Visiting Key Vista Nature Park: Holiday, Florida - WanderWisdom - Travel
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Visiting Key Vista Nature Park: Holiday, Florida

Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures and experiences and makes the world a more tolerant place.

Key Vista Nature Park

Key Vista Nature Park

Florida does a great job with its state and county park system. There are countless beautiful nature parks where one can go to see the local wildlife and scenery in a peaceful setting. The parks are well maintained and offer visitors an opportunity to experience the beauty and wildlife of Florida’s natural ecosystems.

One such park is the Key Vista Nature Park. Part of the Pasco County park system, this 101-acre oasis is located in Holiday on Florida’s west coast, about 40 miles northwest of Tampa. Its network of nature trails, coastal scenery, wildlife, raised boardwalk, and viewing tower makes it the ideal location for a bit of exercise. And if fishing is your thing, there are plenty of spots to cast away either on the inlet canal or the Gulf of Mexico.

Key Vista Nature Park

Key Vista Nature Park

The Trails

From the Key Vista parking lot, you’ll have a few trail options, but they all lead to the main trail that will take you to the observation tower, the Gulf of Mexico, and eventually to Anclote Gulf Park.

There are about 2 miles of trails in the park with a couple of loops. One hugs the inlet and gulf while the other travels inland through the heart of the park. There are picnic tables, grills, and bathroom facilities at the Key Vista parking lot so feel free to pack a lunch or snacks to enjoy after hiking the trails.

Gulf access

Gulf access

Plenty of benches to take a break

Plenty of benches to take a break

To make the hike from the Key Vista Park entrance to the Anclote Gulf Park and back will take about an hour, but will certainly depend on how often you stop to admire the scenery and wildlife. There are plenty of distractions along the way including a climb to the top of the observation tower, so you could easily spend a couple of hours here.

We also noticed several strategically placed benches along the trail if you need to take a break or are just looking for a scenic spot to read a book or take in the coastal views.

Key Vista Observation Tower

Key Vista Observation Tower

Among the mangrove trees, it was hard to believe I was close to a city. Florida State Parks provide these unforgettable moments in nature, protecting special places only a short distance from, or within, urban areas.

— Eric Draper - Director of Florida State Parks System

Access to the Gulf

Access to the Gulf

Wildlife You May See

What you encounter for wildlife will, of course, depend on the time of day you visit and pure chance. The earlier you go the better the chances of seeing wildlife.

Our visit happened to be mid-afternoon, not great for viewing wildlife, but we still saw a variety of coastal birds, osprey, and a large tortoise that we saw near the base of the observation tower.

There are a lot of osprey nests in this area and also a pair of bald eagles that nest in a remote part of the park, so keep your eyes to the sky and bring your camera. There are no trails that lead to the Bald Eagle nest, as a 750-foot buffer must be maintained, but a view of the nest can be had from Baillies Bluff Road. Just down the road near the Anclote River Park is another Bald Eagle nest that is clearly visible from the road. The picture below is of this nest and as you can see there is at least one eaglet in the nest.

Bald Eagle Nest

Bald Eagle Nest

Gopher Tortoise

Gopher Tortoise

Great Horned owls have also nested in Key Vista, although we did not see any evidence or nest on this visit. The one place we have consistently been able to spot a Great Horned Owl is at Honeymoon Island State Park, located just south of Key Vista in Dunedin.

Other birds you may encounter here will include Blue Heron, White Ibis, Snowy Egret, Great Egret, Terns, Brown Pelicans, Black Skimmers, and maybe even the elusive Roseate Spoonbill. The park can boast a total of over 220 different bird species and is part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail.

You may also come across snakes, armadillo, and if you’re lucky a manatee in the warm waters here. Whether or not you come across any wildlife should not deter you from taking a good walk with great views of the coast.

View from top of the observation tower

View from top of the observation tower

Visitor Information

Hours of Operation:

  • ​Key Vista Nature Park is open every day from dawn to dusk.

Fee:​

  • There is no fee to enter the park.

Location:

  • 2700 Baillies Bluff Road, Holiday, FL 34692

Amenities Offered at the Park:

  • ​Picnic area and grills
  • ​Restrooms
  • ​Approximately 2-miles of nature trails
  • ​Free parking with handicap, RV and bus parking available
  • ​Observation tower
  • ​Raised boardwalk
  • ​Park benches along the trail
  • ​Fishing access
  • ​Dogs are welcome and should be kept on a leash
Raised Boardwalk

Raised Boardwalk

Getting There

Key Vista Nature Park is located on Baillies Bluff Road in Holiday, Florida and is located very close to the Anclote Power Plant and Anclote Gulf Park. Key Vista's primary trail actually connects to the Anclote Gulf Park.

If coming from the south you can take Alternate Route 19 to Tarpon Springs and take a left onto Anclote Road, which takes you to Baillies Bluff Road. If you are coming from the north you can take Route 19 to either Trouble Creek or Moog Road. Both take you to Straub Memorial Drive, which will become Baillies Bluff Road. There is plenty of parking at both Key Vista and Anclote Gulf Park.

This part of Florida’s west coast is a great area for nature parks and there are many options available within driving distance of Tampa. Despite the inevitable expanding urban development, you'll be amazed how quickly you can be transported away from humanity and into nature's domain. Some of the other wonderful state, county, and city parks in the area are listed here.

  • Anclote Gulf Park: Fishing pier, playground, kayak launch, dog park, picnic area
  • Anclote River Park: Beach, playground, picnic tables, kayaking, boat ramp, fishing, volleyball courts
  • ​Fred Howard Park: Beach, playground, kayak rentals, picnic shelters, fishing
  • ​North Anclote River Nature Park: Nature trails, dog park, kayak launch, splash park
  • James E. Grey Preserve: Nature trails, kayak launch, playground, picnic tables, fishing
  • Werner-Boyce Salt Springs Park: Nature trails, kayak launch, fishing
  • ​Eagle Point Park: Nature trails, playground, fishing, kayak launch
  • Honeymoon Island State Park: Beach, trails, nature center, kayaking, fishing, picnic pavilion

© 2020 Bill De Giulio

Comments

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on March 10, 2020:

Thank you, Flourish. Seeing the tortoise was definitely a pleasant surprise. The rapid pace of development in the area is a concern, at least for me. But, they do seem to do a good job of maintaining their parks and keeping them in their natural state.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on March 10, 2020:

Thank you, Linda. We enjoy these kinds of parks where you can see wildlife, enjoy the scenery, and get a good walk in. Have a great day.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on March 10, 2020:

Thanks again, Heidi. Another scenic park, this time on the west coast. Have a great day.

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 10, 2020:

I love that you came across a tortoise on your trip! You just never know who you might cross paths with. This sounds like a great place to visit. I hope encroaching development doesn’t ruin the natural beauty.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 09, 2020:

This sounds like another enjoyable place to visit. I'd love to explore nature in Florida. Key Vista Nature Park looks like it's definitely worth visiting!

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on March 09, 2020:

Well, this looks just lovely. Thanks for taking us on the tour!

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on March 08, 2020:

Thank you, Donna. We enjoyed our walk through the Key Vista Park and seeing the Bald Eagle nest was definitely a highlight. Have a great day.

Donna Rayne from Greenwood, In on March 08, 2020:

Bill, what a beautiful place to walk the trails and move about in nature and all the beauty that surrounds you. Thank you for sharing this with us!

Have a great day!

Donna Rayne

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on March 08, 2020:

Thank you, Pam. There are numerous park’s in the Tampa area that we enjoy when we are visiting. This was our first visit to Key Vista, we’ll definitely go back.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 08, 2020:

This looks like a beautiful park. You gave us a good review of the park.

I have not seen as much of FL on the west coast and I would definitely enjoy seeing this particular park.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on March 08, 2020:

Thank you, Peggy. We enjoyed our visit to Vista Key and seeing the eagle’s nest was definitely the highlight. Thanks for stopping by, have a great day.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 08, 2020:

Thanks for showing us this beautiful nature park on the west coast of Florida. The view from the top of that tower is magnificent. Getting to view that eagle's nest must have been fun!

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on March 08, 2020:

Thank you, Louise. It was beautiful and we hope to return next time we are in the area. Have a wonderful day.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on March 08, 2020:

Thank you, Bill. We discovered Key Vista Nature Park a few weeks ago while visiting family. We were pleasantly surprised and it was much warmer than it was up here in Massachusetts. Have a great day.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on March 08, 2020:

It looks a beautiful place to visit. Hopefully some day I will be able to visit.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 08, 2020:

It looks mighty inviting right about now Bill! Thanks for the tour. I feel oddly warmer thanks to you!