The Northwest coast of Florida is best known for its white sand beaches and Spring Break party destinations. But just off of Highway 30A lies a rare coastal dune lake.
Coastal sand dunes themselves are somewhat of a rarity but coastal dune lakes are extremely rare. There are only five places in the world where these exist ( New Zealand, Australia, Madagascar, Northwest Florida and Oregon). The dune lakes in New Zealand and Northwest Florida are the rarest.
What is a Coastal Dune Lake?
The coastal dune lake at Deer Lake State Park is considered one of the rarest in that it periodically blows out into the gulf, mixing fresh water and the salty gulf ocean water. This mixing of the waters provides eleven distinct natural habitats within Deer Lake State Park; swamp, marsh, estuarine tidal creek, depression marsh, basin swamp, beach dune, scrub, sandhill, coastal dune lake, blackwater stream and estuarine tidal creek. The ecosystem created by this meshing of the waters also provides a delicate habitat for migratory birds, butterflies and loggerhead turtles and is home to rare plants such as spoonflowers and curtis sand grass.
Ocean Access and Boardwalk at Deer Lake State Park
In 2004 State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection constructed a mile long boardwalk over the dune that leads to the ocean at Gulf Coast Beach in Deer Lake State Park. This boardwalk offers great views of the dunes themselves and of the dune lake. Animal tracks from coyotes, bobcats, fox and raccoons are visible in the sand indicating the plenitude of wildlife that exists within the park. The park boasts over 1920 protected acres and offers beach access, picnic area and fishing. There are no facilities so be sure to bring food and drinks.
Conservation Efforts at Deer Lake State Park
The park benefits from ongoing conservations efforts. Residents and State Officials are working on obtaining a special designation for the lake. This designation will help with funding for ongoing conservation efforts. Local high school students are helping out the conservation by locating non native plants in the park and replace them with native species.
Deer Lake State Park Information
The park is open from 8:00 a.m. until sundown everyday of the year. Admission is via an honor box and is $3.00 per vehicle and $2.00 for pedestrians and bicyclists. For additional information, please contact the park directly:Deer Lake State Park 357 Main Park Road Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459 Phone: (850) 231-4210 Fax: (850) 231-1879
For more information on what to do in Northwest Florida, in particular Rosemary Beach, please see the following articles: