Discover Fort Clinch State Park
As you approach Fort Clinch State Park, Florida, put aside the tense memories of traffic lights, strip malls, and fast food joints that lead up to the park gates, and start to relax as you travel down the three winding miles under a majestic canopy of live oaks draped in Spanish moss. If not camping, a six-dollar entry fee buys you a day of coastal swimming, birding, hiking, fishing, off-road biking, shark tooth hunting, and shelling.
Fort Clinch State Park Campgrounds: Atlantic Beach vs Amelia River
Atlantic Beach Campground
On paper you might look at the two available tent camping areas and choose the Atlantic Beach Campground location which is within walking distance to the beach. What you gain in ready ocean access, you'll lose in spades by way of privacy and vital shade, especially if visiting Fort Clinch State Park in the summer months.
- Parking is also a little removed from the tent blocks meaning you'll have a short haul of your gear.
- Access to the bath house – while convenient to the RV slips – is less so for the segregated tent site population.
Amelia River Campground
In the midst of a maritime hammocks forest, the Amelia River Campground – in our estimation – is a much better option with natural screens providing privacy and wind reduction. An excellent little west facing 'beach' on the Amelia River is easily accessible from the end of the campground loop. A great place to do a little fishing or to take in a glorious Florida sunset.
FYI: Modern and very clean bathhouses - including laundry – are at both the beach and river campgrounds.
Historic Fort Clinch State Park, Florida
Rich in both natural and historical resources, you have to hand it to the State of Florida for preserving Fort Clinch State Park in both capacities. The land itself has been through many owners (including private ownership), but was finally purchased by the state in 1935. From the year 1937-42, the Civilian Conservation Corps repaired the fort and built a visitor center - adding roads, campsites, restrooms, and picnic areas to become one of Florida’s first eight state parks.
Named for General Duncan Clinch who fought in both the War of 1812 and the Seminole War (and later went on to become a Georgia congressman), the pentagon-shaped Fort Clinch is a visual delight. Having played a part in three wars – Civil War, Spanish-American War, and World War II – its riverfront location, huge cannon-topped stone walls, and various furnished rooms help transport you back to the 1800's.
Fort Clinch State Park Things to Know:
- Hours: 8am - sundown daily
- Park Entrance Fee: $6/vehicle
Fort Clinch State Park Museum and Tour
The self-guided tour (extra fee) begins at the Fort Clinch Museum. A short looping film, various visual displays, weapons, and artifact collections aid in your introduction to the historic site and to what the life of a Union Soldier would have been like in the mid-19th century. Because of its well-preserved thick masonry walls, Fort Clinch is considered one of the finest examples of a Third System of Fortification. Construction on the fort began in 1847, and it was designed to garrison up to 500 soldiers.
The Fort Clinch tour takes you through finished guard rooms, prison, barracks, storehouses, and kitchens that help re-create an 1864 era. Walk the large ramp and get close to the enormous cannons that point out over the Cumberland Sound awaiting an impending invasion. As part of the living history experience, a soldier in Civil War period uniform welcomes questions from visitors to the fort.
Fort Clinch State Park Museum & Fort Tour Things to Know:
- Fort Hours: 9am - 5pm daily
- Self-guided tour fee: $2.50/person
Architecturally speaking, Fort Clinch is an impressive site and you are free to explore the extensive grounds, rooms, tunnels, and nooks with very few areas roped off. Examine winding stairwells, graceful arches, gun ports, and turrets - some in original brick. Watch out for historical graffiti carved into the walls. Where newer reconstruction occurs, the craftsmen have stayed true to period aesthetic principles.
Fort Clinch State Park Events
Other events and reenactments that might be of interest:
- Candlelight Tours – First Saturday evening Oct-May (excluding Dec); Friday & Saturday evenings, May – Labor Day
- Federal Garrisons – First full weekend of every month
- Confederate Garrisons – 3rd weekend of Mar; 2nd weekend of Oct
- World War II Garrison – Memorial Day weekend
- Spanish American War Garrisons –3rd weekend April & Sept
- History of American Soldier – 2nd Saturday of November
- Federal Holiday Jollification – 1st Saturday of December