Turtle Mound at Canaveral National Seashore

View from the top of the largest shell midden on the mainland United States, with an approximate height of 50 feet. Visible seven miles out at sea, early sailors used Turtle Mound as a navigational device.


7611 Atlantic Ave, South
New Smyrna Beach, FL 32169




 Daily 6 a.m.- 8 p.m. 

Purchase your park pass at either the Apollo Beach or Playalinda Beach entrance station. No Cash, only credit or debit for payment. (Touchless payment such as Apple pay and Google pay are accepted as well.)
Pedestrian or Bicycle - $10.00
Vehicle Entrance Fee - $20.00
Motorcycles - $15.00

Located about 9 miles south of New Smyrna Beach, Florida, Turtle Mound archaeological site was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on September 29, 1970. Today, the site is owned and managed by the National Park Service as part of Canaveral National Seashore. Currently called the Turtle Mound, this place has had several names throughout history including: Surruque (16th century), named after the cacique (chief) an Indian tribe that lived in the area; Mount Belvedere (1769); The Rock (1769); Mount Tucker (1796); and Turtle Mount (1823).

The earliest evidence of man at Cape Canaveral is found in the numerous mounds and middens within its boundaries.

This turtle-shaped mound contains oysters and refuse from the prehistoric Timucuan people, and extends for over 600 feet along the Indian River shoreline.  It contains over 35,000 cubic yards of shells. Archaeologists believe the Timucua may have used this site as a high-ground refuge during hurricanes. It was constructed between 800 and 1400 CE., however recent radiocarbon testing dates it around 1000 BCE. (Archaeologists have recently found 1,200-year-old pottery on the site.) In 1605, the Spanish explorer and cartographer, Alvaro Mexia, visited the site and reported natives launching their dugout canoes at the mound's base. Over many years of this practice, the mound began to take the form of a turtle, giving the feature its name. Early Spanish colonists and subsequent mariners utilized the large mound as a landmark. Turtle Mound was estimated to be 75 feet high before it was reduced by shell rock mining in the 19th and 20th centuries.

There has never been a complete archeological excavation of Turtle Mound. By protecting it for the future, we will be able to gain more insight into the way of life of the Timucuan people. Archeological sites such as Turtle Mound are the last remaining vestige of the Timucuan people. Other mounds have been leveled to provide roadfill material. Some mounds have been so disturbed that their archeological record was destroyed and their artifacts lost forever.

Turtle Mound is accessible via a hiking trail Read This to learn about the hike and trail.

page information credit: National Park Service, University of Central Florida, Wikipedia, Visit New Smyrna Beach
photos from the sources listed above, as well as publicly posted online sites with thanks to the contributors