We spent the day visiting Fort Pulaski on the last day of our Southern Roadtrip in Savannah. We wanted to get out of the city and enjoy some of the coastal areas.
Fort Pulaski, located on Cockspur Island, was about a 30-minute drive from our Savannah Airbnb. It also allowed us to cross the inlet to spend a little time driving around Tybee Island.
Planning a Visit to Fort Pulaski
101 Fort Pulaski Road
Savannah, GA 31410
The Fort Pulaski National Monument is open seven days a week from 9 AM to 5 PM. We suggest double-checking their website as they are closed on some holidays.
Entrance Fees are valid for seven consecutive days. Which is great if you want to do a little fishing or come back and picnic.
16 and over = $10.00
15 and under = Free
Fort Pulaski National Monument Annual Pass = $35
Interagency (Multiple Federal Fee Areas) = $80
Senior (62+; U.S. Citizens / Permanent Residents; Multiple Federal Fee Areas) = $20
Military (Available for active military and their dependents. Proper ID required.) = Free
Passes can be purchased online, and the parks are cashless, accepting only credit and debit cards.
The History Of Fort Pulaski
Fort Pulaski has stood guard over the southern channel of the Savannah River for 150 years.
The fort played an essential role in the U.S. Civil War, protecting access to the Savannah River. Navy ships could not safely come within effective range with seven and a half foot thick solid brick walls backed with giant masonry piers, a moat, and wide swampy marshes on all sides. It was said that smoothbore cannons and artillery stood no chance against this fort and that you ‘might as well bombard the Rocky Mountains.’
The south was surprised when over 5,000 heavy caliper rifled artillery shells were launched at the fort over thirty hours, cutting through the bricks like paper. The fort was surrendered, and a blockade against the south was strengthened with the acquisition of the fort.
Information and Accessibility
The fort is fascinating, and as a national park, they do a good job offering detailed maps, signage, and information on the barracks, how cannons were used, and historical information. Several of the displays have short audio messages explaining the use of spaces and equipment displayed.
We were intrigued by the entrance called a Sally Port. You cross several small draw bridges over the surrounding moats. Beyond the last draw bridge, there are heavy wooden gates, iron-studded wooden doors leading to a steep incline ramp, and another heavy wooden door. They made sure you were not penetrating the fort from the ground.
A good portion of the grounds is a relatively easy walk and are wheelchair accessible. However, the second story of the fort, with a majority of its artillery and amazing views, is not handicapped accessible. The first set of stairs you come to are relatively steep. If you wander a bit farther, you come to some circular staircases with narrow walls that might be easier to navigate.
The Lighthouse Overlook Trail
After touring the fort, we decided to hike along the Lighthouse Overlook Trail. It leads through once swampy marshes to a view of the old Cockspur Island Lighthouse, currently being renovated.
The park guard had boasted about the new signage they recently received. But, if you take the long way around the fort to get a close-up of the damage to the fort, you hike for a good bit before seeing any signage.
The path is relatively wide and mostly packed sand with a few boardwalk sections over marshy areas. It’s a reasonably easy walk, just a bit long. There are no signs along the route, and more than once, we contemplated turning back as we had no idea how much further we had or if we had somehow gotten lost. Keep going; you’ll eventually get there.
The views of the river, the vegetation, birds, and butterflies were worth the walk. You also can see how far the cannonballs had to travel to reach the fort off in the distance behind you.
There are a few places to sit and rest, but you probably want to take some water and ABSOLUTELY be sure to use some insect repellant.
One of the things we learned about the fort after the visit and doing some research was its part in the Underground Railroad.
Many enslaved people made their way to Fort Pulaski with the assistance of former slave March Haynes. Haynes is credited for bringing hundreds of escaped slaves to Fort Pulaski under Union Command. Many newly freed slaves lived in the fort’s old construction village, along the Georgia coast.
Many men joined together to form one of the first colored troops’ divisions during the Civil War.
Overall, we really enjoyed our visit to Fort Pulaski, and it’s well worth the trip outside of Savannah to see some of the coastal areas.