Gulf Islands Seashore Open To Public

The campground may be filled with FEMA trailers. But Gulf Islands National Seashore in Ocean Springs remains open to the public.

The park is still a great place to ride a bike, hike a trail, launch a boat or just enjoy the natural beauty of the outdoors.

The "campground closed" sign at the entrance may be keeping some visitors away. But it's only the campground that's off limits.

"We've got the park cleaned up. We've got areas reopened. Things aren't all fixed, but we have places where people can visit right now," said park ranger Gail Bishop.

You can fish in Davis Bayou or picnic under a pavilion. Bike riders still find the park an inviting getaway. And most of the hiking trails are also back in business.

The storm damaged visitor's center has been replaced with a portable building nearby.

"This park is awesome. I think I'm in the best place I could possibly ask to be in," said Melissa Suzan.

She is among those living in the FEMA trailer park within the Gulf Islands campground. Suzan says the "temporary home" is in a perfect setting, amid the outdoor beauty and serenity a national park provides.

"I couldn't ask to be in a better place this time of year. It's beautiful. Gorgeous."

One of the park's attractions, left relatively undisturbed by Katrina, is the so-called gator pond, where visitors, if they're lucky, can have a close, but not too close encounter with a certain reptile.

We got lucky and spotted a pair of alligators. To be fair, they may have spotted us first.

Gulf Islands National Seashore invites all to take a look.

"We just want the community at large to know we're reopen. If you need a break from hurricane recovery, come on out and enjoy the park," said Bishop.

Gulf Islands National Seashore is continuing with hurricane repairs and recovery. The visitor's center is being rebuilt and will open in the next year. Repairs are also planned for the popular fishing pier.