Gulf Islands National Seashore (Mississippi) | WILLIAM M. COLMER VISITOR CENTER

William M. Colmer Visitor Center, Gulf Islands National Seashore

William M. Colmer Visitor Center, Gulf Islands National Seashore

OPERATING HOURS

The William M. Colmer Visitor Center is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM. Times can always change, so before making travel plans be sure to get the latest schedule on the National Park Service’s Davis Bayou Area web page for Gulf Islands National Seashore.

AMENITIES

  • Ranger-staffed information desk where you can pick up a free park brochure, trail map, and other information
  • Book / souvenir store
  • Restrooms
  • Exhibit area
  • Auditorium where a park film is shown
Inside the Colmer Visitor Center at Gulf Islands National Seashore in Mississippi

Inside the Colmer Visitor Center at Gulf Islands National Seashore in Mississippi

A boardwalk trail is located behind the building, and you can take a short walk out to a bayou, which is “Mississippi” for swamp. The trail leads to some nice views.

Boardwalk behind the Colmer Visitor Center at Gulf Islands National Seashore in Mississippi

Boardwalk behind the Colmer Visitor Center at Gulf Islands National Seashore in Mississippi

Davis Bayou at Gulf Islands National Seashore in Mississippi

Davis Bayou at Gulf Islands National Seashore in Mississippi

Overlook at the end of the boardwalk trail at the Colmer Visitor Center

Overlook at the end of the boardwalk trail at the Colmer Visitor Center

PARK FILM

A very detailed, 25-minute film entitled Stories of Survival plays on demand in the Visitor Center auditorium. This means that if it is not already playing, just ask the park Ranger to start it for you. The film covers the entire Gulf Islands National Seashore and is not exclusively made for the Mississippi section. I was surprised by the amount of detail provided in the film, especially its coverage of some of the Mississippi barrier islands that most people do not have access to. The film is suitable for all ages.

EXHIBITS

Unlike the park film that covers the entire Gulf Islands National Seashore, the Colmer Visitor Center museum mainly focuses on the Mississippi bayou and the offshore barrier islands. This is a very modern and well put-together exhibit area with a ton of video presentations, dioramas, and interactive exhibits, making the museum fun for kids. Seems like every exhibit has its own video, and these are all different from the main park film, not just excerpts from that movie repurposed for the museum. The majority of the exhibits are on nature, but there are a few on the human history of the island, including the Civil War and its impact on the area.

Interactive map of the Gulf Islands National Seashore at the Colmer Visitor Center

Interactive map of the Gulf Islands National Seashore at the Colmer Visitor Center

Exhibits at the Colmer Visitor Center at Gulf Islands National Seashore in Mississippi

Exhibits at the Colmer Visitor Center at Gulf Islands National Seashore in Mississippi

Shell "touch" exhibit at the Colmer Visitor Center at Gulf Islands National Seashore in Mississippi

Shell “touch” exhibit at the Colmer Visitor Center at Gulf Islands National Seashore in Mississippi

One of many video-based exhibits at the Colmer Visitor Center at Davis Bayou

One of many video-based exhibits at the Colmer Visitor Center at Davis Bayou

History exhibit at the Colmer Visitor Center at Gulf Islands National Seashore in Mississippi

History exhibit at the Colmer Visitor Center at Gulf Islands National Seashore in Mississippi

SCHEDULING YOUR TIME

For those interested in reading through all of the information, plan to spend about 45 minutes in the exhibit area. This does not count watching all of the many videos in the museum. Most people just browse a few things that catch their attention and are in and out in a few minutes. You definitely want to watch the park film, which takes a half hour of your time. Thus, plan to spend about one hour and possibly up to two hours for your visit to the William M. Colmer Visitor Center.

Colmer, by the way, was a member of the U. S. House of Representatives from Mississippi who was instrumental in the creation of the park. With all of the political correctness BS these days, I’m surprised that the Visitor Center still retains his name since he was a staunch segregationist and an opponent of the Civil Rights Movement, but then again, I doubt there were too many Mississippi politicians back then (1933-73) who weren’t against such things. Colmer served in Congress longer than any other Mississippi politician except one.

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Last updated on April 30, 2022
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