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Exploring The Guana River Wildlife Area with Kids: A Hidden Gem


Located midway between Jacksonville and St. Augustine, the Guana River Wildlife Management Area is a hidden gem for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.


We are fortunate to have family off of Canal Road, so we are a quick golf cart ride to the Roscoe Road Entrance. There's plenty of parking which makes for an EASY & FREE activity for kids -- buzzwords for parents/grandparents/sitters with unpredictable littles under their care! We find great joy in spotting a bird or elusive gopher tortoise on a short walk (keyword is short...) to get our energy out while in nature.


WHAT WE DO: We park at the Roscoe Road entrance and head out to observe bugs, birds, fishies (in the entrance ditch) and turtles, walk/run down the dirt road a bit, admire other bikers/hikers, and then we load-up and head back home! Our visits last 10-45 minutes depending on the day. Bonus featuer, is that there is a bathroom if needed.


Push pause on the electronics and check it out! This part of the Guana is easily accessible, especially for families in the Palm Valley or Nocatee's Twenty Mile areas.




Make sure to bring your binoculars and your sense of wonder as you embark on your wildlife adventure.


Spanning over 21,000 acres, this nature preserve offers a wide range of activities and opportunities to immerse yourself in Florida's diverse ecosystems. Whether you're a passionate hunter, angler, paddler, hiker, or simply enjoy wildlife viewing, Guana River WMA has something for everyone.


Wildlife Extravaganza

One of the highlights of the Guana River WMA is its remarkable wildlife. As part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, this area is a haven for bird enthusiasts. Countless species of birds can be spotted throughout the year. Whether you're an experienced birder or a casual observer, your head will be turning all around.


But the feathered residents are not the only attraction. Guana River WMA is home to a diverse range of wildlife. From white-tailed deer to elusive bobcats, from curious river otters to lumbering gopher tortoises (Layton's favorite!), the area is teeming with fascinating creatures. Exploring the trails and waterways may reward you with unforgettable encounters and glimpses into the natural behaviors of these animals.


Habitat Conservation and Management

The Guana River WMA owes its rich biodiversity to the diligent efforts of biologists and conservationists. The management of this vast area involves regulating water levels and implementing prescribed burns to maintain and enhance the diverse habitats. These practices promote healthy ecosystems, support native plant and animal species, and create favorable conditions for wildlife. By visiting this area, you not only get to appreciate the natural beauty but also contribute to the ongoing conservation efforts that protect and preserve these invaluable ecosystems for future generations.


Planning Your Visit

To make the most of your visit to Guana River WMA, it's essential to plan ahead. The preserve is conveniently located between Jacksonville and St. Augustine, making it easily accessible for visitors from both cities. Before heading out, check the official website or contact the management authority to gather up-to-date information on any permits, licenses, or regulations that may apply to your chosen activity, such as hunting or fishing. Additionally, be sure to pack appropriate gear, including comfortable footwear, binoculars, water, sunscreen, and insect repellent, to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience in the great outdoors.

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