Description - The De Soto National Memorial is small in geographic size, a mere 25 acres, but large in terms of historical significance. Costumed park staff interpret Hernando de Soto's North American search for gold and power. Tourists may visit the site year-round.
Copyright: - US National Park Service
The mission of De Soto National Memorial is to commemorate the 1539 Spanish explorer
The site is not only a national memorial remembered for the power struggles of the 1500s, but it is also the site of a rich ecosystem lush with animal and plant life.
- De Soto National Memorial commemorates Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto, who landed on the southwest Florida coast, near Tampa Bay, in 1539. De Soto, leading 600 soldiers, came to the new world with a license from the King of Spain to explore, colonize and pacify the Indians of the area known as "La Florida". The group explored the Mississippi River Valley and 4,000 miles of the North American interior.
Programs at the park explain the prevailing 16th century Spanish cultural values and the inevitable clash with the native cultures the expedition encountered. This expedition was the first large scale European mission into the interior of North America.
Recreation - Visitors to De Soto National Memorial can view interpretive exhibits and the Gulf coast scenery, as well as fish and hike. The visitor center has a 22-minute film and exhibit detailing the De Soto journey, another exhibit explains the native Indian culture that flourished in the area. A half mile, self-guiding interpretive trail on site leads through mangrove and coastal environments.
From late December to early April, Camp Ucita, a reproduction of the 16th century Indian village that the Soto expedition used as a base camp, is open. Park rangers dressed in period costume give demonstrations of blacksmithing, cooking, armor repair and military weapons of the period. Of special interest is the firing of a military crossbow, and an Arquebus - a primitive black powder weapon that predates the flintlock.
Climate - Winters in west central Florida are normally mild with occasional temperatures dipping into the 30's and 40's Fahrenheit. However, averages range between 52 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit (11 - 18 Celsius). Summers are normally hot and muggy with temperatures and humidity usually exceeding 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Averages range between 81 and 83 degrees (27 - 29 Celsius). Precipitation for the central west area ranges between 52 and 56 inches per year.
The De Soto National Memorial is located at the Manatee River and Tampa Bay confluence, approximately five miles west of Bradenton, Florida.