Is Fort DeSoto Park in Florida Haunted?

Updated on January 14, 2014
kittythedreamer profile image

Kitty has had paranormal experiences her entire life. These experiences have fueled her passion to write about all things supernatural.

Fort DeSoto is beautiful, but seems very haunted after the sun has set.
Fort DeSoto is beautiful, but seems very haunted after the sun has set. | Source

Fort DeSoto Park

Sitting quietly at the mouth of the Tampa Bay, Fort DeSoto is a serene and beautiful place full of nature and mystery. It's a place that attracts almost three million people every year. Whether you're going for the day to enjoy the gorgeous beach or whether you're staying at the campgrounds, you will be sure to enjoy it.

But there's a darker side to Fort DeSoto that isn't known by many. Even though Fort DeSoto is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, the beauty can indeed change to fright after the sun sets on the horizon. Read on to learn a history of Fort DeSoto Park in Florida, and also learn the tales of a very haunted place in the sunshine state.

Is the Fort DeSoto beach haunted?
Is the Fort DeSoto beach haunted? | Source
Who knows what things lurk in the trees of Fort DeSoto
Who knows what things lurk in the trees of Fort DeSoto | Source

A Brief History of Fort DeSoto Park in Florida

Before the white man came to America, the Natives lived and ruled the land. There was no exception to this rule in the state of Florida either. At the mouth of the Tampa Bay and at the southernmost point of Pinellas County, Fort DeSoto was most likely inhabited and/or visited by the Tocobaga tribe in the 1500s and earlier. Given that Fort DeSoto is surrounded by water and was bursting forth with natural resources, the Tocobaga tribe was most likely very happy hunting and fishing there. The times began to change when the Spanish conquistadors came to Florida. They brought with them disease and more war, which unfortunately killed off the entire Tocobaga population by the early 1700s.

A famous Spanish conquistador by the name of Hernando De Soto was thought to have landed somewhere in Pinellas County, Florida and many people claim he explored the Fort DeSoto area. In addition to De Soto's landing in the area, Panfilo de Narvaez was also thought to have explored this land as well as made contact with the Tocobaga natives.

After the time of the Spanish conquistadors was over and following the death of the Tocobaga tribe, the purpose of Fort DeSoto began to change rapidly. Directly after the Union blockade set up at Egmont Key and Mullet Key during the Civil War, Fort DeSoto became a true military fort during the Spanish American War in the year 1900. It was named after the famous Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto, and it's establishment was complete in 1906 and consisted of a hospital, a large barracks, a guardhouse, blacksmith, mess hall, and a storehouse. There were two large artillery and mortar batteries known as Batteries Laidley and Bigelow. These were set up mainly to protect Tampa Bay from invading forces traveling up the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean.

Fort DeSoto was a very beautiful and serene place, but unfortunately the summers there were excruciatingly hot. The soldiers posted at Fort DeSoto battled with not only the extreme heat in the summers but also with massive swarms of hungry and aggressive mosquitoes. Misery was no stranger to the soldiers living in Fort DeSoto. How sad that they could not enjoy such a lovely place as this. There are many tales of soldiers writing of the illnesses and torment put on them by the mosquitoes and conditions at Fort DeSoto. There's no doubt at least a few died while living at the military fort. Though the fort saw a lot of change, there wasn't that much bloodshed in its history, that we know of today.

Haunted Trees in Fort DeSoto
Haunted Trees in Fort DeSoto | Source

Participate in a poll:

Have you ever visited Fort DeSoto?

See results

Legends of a Haunted Fort DeSoto

There are a few particularly creepy legends of Fort DeSoto being haunted. The obvious legends entertain the idea that ghosts of soldiers from the Spanish American War can be seen all around this gorgeous state park. Dozens of soldiers died of Yellow Fever, an illness caused by the mosquito population back in those days.

A lesser known legend is that of a ghostly man who is thought to be looking for his lost lover. The last eyewitness claims this man was wearing a blue t-shirt and was wading out in the water as if he was going fishing. Then he disappeared.

Others travel from all over the state and elsewhere to investigate Fort DeSoto as a potentially haunted location. The popularity of the Gaspar legend circulates the Tampa Bay area and his ghost is said to sometimes pay a visit to Fort DeSoto. If you don't know who Gaspar was, let's just say that he is a pretty famous pirate in these parts of Florida. Is it possible that pirate ghosts and the ghosts of Spanish explorers still haunt the old island? I could definitely imagine Hernando De Soto visiting the place that is named after him on occasion.

Just across from Fort DeSoto is the island called Egmont Key. Egmont Key has a history all its own, but let's just say that its history is even thicker than Fort DeSoto's...if you can believe it. It was thought to have been a stop on the underground railroad, and so many people believe the ghosts haunting Egmont Key could also be haunting Fort DeSoto's beaches, as well.

Disembodied voices and heavy footsteps are heard in the old battery on Fort DeSoto, even to this day. Are they the voices and footsteps of the soldiers from the late 1800s/early 1900s or are they perhaps the footsteps of the Tocobaga natives who were here long before the white man came?

What I find rather interesting is that when you sit on the beach at Fort DeSoto, you can clearly see the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The Skyway bridge is a place that has seen tragedy, and more than once. The bridge has collapsed and has been run into by a ship, causing more than dozens of lives to be lost throughout its life as a bridge. More alarming is the fact that hundreds of people have committed suicide by jumping off of the bridge. Are there sad souls from these tragedies or trapped souls from suicides still haunting the waters under the bridge? Do they ever make their way over to Fort DeSoto?

The skyline in Fort DeSoto
The skyline in Fort DeSoto | Source

My Ghostly Experiences in Haunted Fort DeSoto

With it's twisting old trees and quiet beaches, Fort DeSoto seemed to me like it could be a hot spot for ghostly activity. I recently spent two nights in Fort DeSoto camping in a tent, and I would just like to say that although it is a beautiful place during the day it gets rather spooky at night. After the sun goes down over the water, and after the beauty of the beaches has worn off, there is a darkness that can creep over you. When the wind whips through the branches of the palm trees here, it sounds like a tornado is coming through and ready to lift you from your place of slumber. You wake up only to find that it is a gentle breeze...the trees just seem to reject that notion.

God forbid you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night by yourself. I walked that track more than once with a flashlight, and it always felt like someone was right behind me...watching my every move. It wasn't a warm or welcoming feeling, instead it felt downright invasive at times. During the day this feeling would fade, but as soon as the sun went down the uneasiness would return.

While I stayed in Fort DeSoto, I never came face to face with the ghost of a soldier, pirate, native, or otherwise. But I can tell you with certainty that the place has an air of mystery...the land itself has a consciousness and remembers what has happened there throughout the centuries. You can feel it the moment you step onto the land there. The trees tell their stories, and the beaches hide their bloody secrets. But the land remembers...and so do the ghosts.

Written and copyright © by KittytheDreamer (May Canfield), 2013. All Rights Reserved.

A Very Haunted Tree in Fort DeSoto
A Very Haunted Tree in Fort DeSoto | Source

Fort DeSoto Park from a Satellite:

Fort DeSoto, Florida:
fort desoto camprground, St. Petersburg, FL 33715, USA

get directions

Questions & Answers


    Submit a Comment

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      3 years ago from Summerland

      Kristen - Thanks so much! Happy New Year.

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      3 years ago from Summerland

      bdegiulio - of my favorite Florida spots too. Thanks for reading!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Nicole. Congratulations on the HOTD. I have been to Fort De Soto many times and it remains one of my favorite destinations in Florida. I have never spent the night there but you have certainly raised my interest in visiting after the sun goes down. Great job :)

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Nicole, this was real interesting to know about this haunted park in Florida. Thanks for sharing and congrats on HOTD!

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      5 years ago from Summerland

      Thanks, dagny! I hope you get to go camping soon, friend. :)

    • dagny roth profile image

      dagny roth 

      5 years ago from Neverland

      Great article! I enjoyed your video!! You inspired me to go camping...soon! :-)

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      5 years ago from Summerland

      JMcFarland - Happy to meet another Tampa Bayer! Yes, it is both beautiful and intriguing. Thanks for reading!

    • JMcFarland profile image


      5 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      Voted up and interesting. As a Tampa Bayer myself, I love visiting De Soto, and I've had the opportunity to be there after dark. It's a beautiful and intriguing place.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)