Once part of the gunnery and bombing ranges at Eglin Air Force Base, the eastern shoreline of Rocky Bayou was set aside for public use thanks to the efforts of Colonel Fred Gannon.
Hugging a long slender bayou off Choctawhatchee Bay, this 357 acre park provides camping, hiking, and water access for boaters and paddlers in Niceville.
Disclosure: As authors and affiliates, we receive earnings when you buy these through our links. This helps us provide public information on this website.
Address: 4281 SR 20, Niceville
Fees: $5 per vehicle
Restroom: At the day use area
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM until sunset. Leashed pets welcome.
The park is along SR 20 east of Niceville, west of SR 293. Follow the entrance road into the park. Unless you’re here to camp, turn left to drive down to the Red Cedar day use area.
About the Park
Designed by Colonel Gannon, the park’s initial amenities included an entrance road, trails, and waterfront for public use, built by the Civil Engineering Group at Eglin he headed.
Like much of Eglin Air Force Base, the land had once been part of Choctawhatchee National Forest, with towering pines and carnivorous plant bogs.
It was part of the bombing and gunnery range at Eglin during World War II, but by the late 1950s, was too close to the growing residential spread of Niceville.
Rocky Bayou State Park became part of the Florida State Park system in 1966 and was later rededicated in the colonel’s honor.
Hugging the shoreline of Rocky Bayou, it has one of the prettiest campgrounds in the state park system, naturally cooled by breezes off the water.
Forty-two sites are tucked under the forest canopy, some with waterfront views. All have water and electric, and four are ADA accessible.
The Red Cedar day use area is on a bluff above the bayou, with picnic tables, a playground, and direct access to the Red Cedar Trail.
Paddlers can launch their own craft here, or rent a canoe or kayak from the park. Anglers can cast a line anywhere along the shoreline.
Boaters, continue to the end of the road to reach the double ramp and large parking area for boat trailers.
Rocky Bayou is brackish. From it, you can cruise into Choctawhatchee Bay and reach the Gulf of Mexico.
Three interpretive nature trails tally 3.3 miles of hiking. The Rocky Bayou Trail showcases habitats along the bayou, with excellent views from the shoreline.
The Red Cedar Trail offers an interpretive walk in an upland forest dominated by cedar. The Sand Pine Trail follows Puddin’ Head Creek, edged by sand pine forest.
See our photos of Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.