Visiting De Soto National Memorial

De Soto National Memorial sign (National Park Service).
The entrance sign- I love it!


De Soto National Memorial opened in 1948. It’s history started long before that, in 1539. Hernando de Soto and his men landed at this spot in Bradenton, FL, where the indigenous people had been living, and they guarded their land fervently. De Soto and his men then explored some more of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, then Louisiana, where he died.

View from De Soto National Memorial- beautiful water and some grass.
A beautiful view of the water along one of the trails.

My Experience

De Soto National Memorial is one of my favorite parks so far. The trail was pretty short, but gorgeous. A visit here would make for a well-spent few hours. We saw people picnicking, running the trail, and observing, like we were. It was hot, but nice overall, because the trail followed the water most of the time and you got the breeze. All the water views alone are worth the trip here! We spent about an hour touring the grounds.

View from De Soto National Memorial- shoreline with large rocks and brush.
This Memorial is surrounded by gorgeous Tampa Bay.

Things to do

There is no admission fee. For a few months out of the year, the Memorial offers ranger-led kayak tours (summer), and a living history camp. They also offer guided walking tours but were not doing it the day that we came. We were disappointed, but honestly, after walking the trail, we didn’t need it. It’s always nice to get historical information but the trail was short and sweet, and had plaques along the way for us to read.

De Soto Point, looking out to the water with large rocks. Sign tells about De Soto Point (too small to read all the words).
De Soto Point- I was imaging what the travelers saw all those years ago- more overgrown tree line?
Concrete slab with Conquistador Hernando de Soto and some of his men.
Concrete slab with Conquistador Hernando de Soto and some of his men.

They have summer camps for kids, fishing clinics, scavenger hunts, and more. When Chris and I have kids, I would love to take them to the parks and explore everything they have to offer. This memorial is one of the smaller entities of the National Park Service, but they have a lot going on for visitors.

Large concrete cross in the middle of trees.
I was amazed with how large the cross was- probably commissioned by the Bishop.

One of our last stops was the visitor’s center where I stamped my passport book. Chris and I ended up speaking with one of the park rangers who told us some stories about the amazing wildlife he’s seen here- like alligators, and eagles with prey in their mouths, circling overhead. 

Sign that reads "In memory of the twelve priests who accompanied the 1539's Spanish expedition and of the Native Americans who inhabited these shores. Most reverend John J. Nevins Bishop Diocese of Venice in Florida.
I love that they included the Native Americans who were living here first.

Ending Thoughts

Overall, I visited 3 national parks in December 2016 before the centennial anniversary of the park system ended. The national parks did so many awesome things with this anniversary that I wish I knew about all of them before the last month of the year…
I still haven’t been able to venture out to see others yet, but I WILL reach my goal of visiting all 413 of them! (more posts to come about the other national parks!)

Large concrete De Soto Trail sign with crest.
I can’t get enough of the concrete signs!

Check out De Soto National Memorial’s page here for more information.

Have you been here before? It’s dog friendly, and they even do an annual event for dogs in March!

Have you ever wanted to skydive? Have you done it before? Check out my story about it here!

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