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Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve: A Unique Place in Florida

Pristine coastal wetlands, gorgeous hardwood hammocks, coastal dunes, and salt marshes make up a majority of the Timucuan Historic and Ecological Preserve. It is a United States National Preserve in Jacksonville that preserves Florida’s key sites.

Covering 46,000 acres of federal, state, and county land, it was named for the indigenous Timucua people who had settled along Florida’s northeast waterways. Uncover more about this intriguing predominately undeveloped preserve below.


The culture and history of the preserve stretched more than 6,000 years. It takes America back to a time where plantation and slavery life impacted the area. It also reminds people of the time when European settlers such as French colonists in the 16th century came to North America seeking wealth, territorial expansion, and religious freedom.

Modern-day history of the preserve dates back to 1950 when Fort Caroline National Memorial was authorized as a national park to commemorate the 16th-century French effort to establish a colony in modern-day Florida. In 1988, legislation was enacted for the preserve to be jointly administered with Fort Caroline National Memorial that was within Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.

It is believed that Willie Browne owned part of the land. The lad who was born in 1889 lived his entire life in the outskirts of Florida. He observed as the city became a concrete jungle and vowed never to sell his land even when wealthy individuals offered him millions to purchase his land. He wanted a place that remained natural without any skyscrapers.

A year before Browne passed on in 1969. He donated 600 acres to the Nature Conservancy so that future generations would have a place in the woods to visit. In 1990, the preserve became part of the National Park Service. The Preservation Project Jacksonville expanded the preserve in 1999. Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve comprise most of St. Johns River, remnants of an early 19th-century plantation, a re-created 16th -century fort, scattered Florida state parks, and a wilderness that is named after Theodore Roosevelt, one of Willie Browne’s heroes.

Spanish Moss in Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve Florida

Things to Do at the Preserve

Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve is open to the public from 9 AM to 5 PM every day except on New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The preserve offers a variety of events and special programs for the public, including volunteer work, school programs, living history events, and seasonal night hikes.

Recreational opportunities at the preserve include numerous beach activities, kayak trails, bicycle trails, historic site visiting, camping, boat ramps, bird-watching, fishing, hiking sites, and wildlife observation.

Examples of events you can enjoy in the preserve include

  • Coffee with a Ranger - this is a program usually offered at the Kingsley Plantation and Fort Caroline in the preserve. Visitors get a chance to chat with a ranger as they learn about the cultural and natural history of the area. Note that this is a bring your own coffee event.

  • Porch Talk - Pork talks are drop-in programs where revelers can go and ask rangers about anything about the preserve.

Fascinating Facts about Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve

There are tons of interesting facts about the preserve everyone should learn including

  • In addition to preserving various ecosystems in Florida, Timucuan also contains remains of a plantation that features slave cabins. The site helps researchers get a better understanding of the daily lives and culture of the enslaved people who worked and lived there.

  • The preserve protects the region where Nassau and St. Johns rivers meet the Atlantic Ocean. The area forms one of the largest salt mash estuaries in America.

  • Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve is home to more than 200 archaeological sites that represent over 6,000 years of ongoing human history.

  • Federal ownership of the preserve only accounts for 18% of the park (8, 430 acres). Other landowners include city and state parks, NGOs, and private homes and landowners.

  • 2/3rds of the unique park is made up of salt marsh. It describes lands of grass-covered islands that are surrounded by a maze of small waterways and creeks.

  • The preserve features an 8.5-acre sand dune known as NaNa locally at the historic American Beach.

Closing Thoughts

Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve remains one of America’s best-kept secrets in the National Park system. It is a heaven of cultural and natural resources that allows you to experience a combination of natural beauty, adventure, and history.

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