Fort Pulaski National Monument

Outer walls of Fort Pulaski National Monument.

Open daily. Adult admission $7. Leashed pets welcome.

See below: full visitor information

Fort Pulaski is one of the best-preserved brick fortifications in the United States and one of the most popular attractions for visitors to Savannah and Tybee Island.

Named for the Polish Revolutionary War officer Count Casimir Pulaski, it was completed in 1847 as part of the Third System of defensive forts placed along the southeastern coast in the first half of the 19th century.

Masonry forts were the standard military defense of the period: its walls 10 feet thick and its location on Cockspur Island then beyond the useful range of most artillery, Fort Pulaski was considered unassailable. Its test came in the Civil War, at the April 1862 Battle of Fort Pulaski.

The Confederate loss of Tybee Island allowed the Union army to set up gun batteries there from which it could fire its new, rifled, cannon. Rifling, an old technology recently added to mass-produced field artillery, greatly increased the accurate range of the Union’s missiles: the supposedly-impregnable Fort Pulaski fell after little more than a day, losing the Confederate side the use of Savannah as a supply port.

Under Union occupation for the remainder of the war, Cockspur Island served as a prison for over 500 captured Confederates and as a place of refuge for freed and escaped slaves, one of the most southerly destinations on the Underground Railroad.

The fall of Fort Pulaski showed fortifications of this type to be obsolete, near to useless against the heavy artillery now available. It was one of the last brick and stone forts to be built in the United States.

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What To See & Do At Fort Pulaski

The Fort

Fort Pulaski itself is a roughly hexagonal two-story brick fort, with demilune, powder magazines, enclosed parade ground and surrounding moat. A perimeter trail allows a better view of the moat and the cannon holes on the eastern side of the fort’s walls, the latter the result of its bombardment during the Battle of Fort Pulaski.

Fort Pulaski is one of the highest points in the flat coastal landscape between Savannah and the ocean; the upper level of the fort, accessible by staircase, offers some of the best views over the river and surrounding tidal marshes.

45-60 minute guided tours of Fort Pulaski are available daily, usually in both the morning and the afternoon. See tour times Tours discuss the construction of the fort, Civil War weaponry and the Battle of Fort Pulaski, and life for the soldiers stationed there. On Saturdays, historic weapons demonstrations are also given.

Nearby are: the historic pier at which materials to build and supply the fort were once unloaded; Battery Hambright, an 1890s gun mount constructed to guard the northern channel of the Savannah River; and the John Wesley Monument, marking the spot where Wesley, one of the founders of Methodism, landed in the first years of the founding of the Colony of Georgia.

You can also see the remnants of the old construction village that housed the people who worked on Fort Pulaski (and later, fleeing slaves), and the dike designed by Robert E Lee (then a member of the United States Army Corps of Engineers) to drain the island and control the tides, so as to allow the fort’s construction on the marshy site.

Visitor Center & Exhibits

Exhibits A small museum inside the Visitor Center explores the history of Fort Pulaski and its construction. Exhibit topics include Casimir Pulaski, for whom the fort was named; Union General David Hunter, commander in charge of the attack on Fort Pulaski and the emancipation of Georgia’s slaves; and Robert E Lee and his contribution to the construction of the fort.

Film A 20-minute film introduces the history of Fort Pulaski, from its construction to its later role in the Civil War. It shows every 30 minutes, 9am-4:30pm.

Cockspur Island Lighthouse

This historic and picturesque 1850s lighthouse (no longer in active use) is located on a rocky outcrop just east of Cockspur Island, connected to the rest of the island only at low tide. The lighthouse is currently closed to the public for preservation reasons.

The easiest way to see the lighthouse is from the overlook point on eastern Cockspur Island, to which the National Monument’s Lighthouse Trail – a bit less than 2 miles round trip – leads.

If you want to see the lighthouse up close, the best option is to take a kayak tour which visits it, or if you have the necessary experience, rent a kayak or other vessel to go there yourself. See details of available tours or places to rent a kayak

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Nature & Outdoors Activities

Wildlife-watching Cockspur Island and the adjacent salt marshes are home to an abundance of wildlife, including several Protected Species alongside more common animals such as white-tailed deer and snakes (some poisonous).

Dozens of species of birds either live permanently on the island or use it as a stopping point on north-south migrations. Sightings include bald eagles, ospreys, and other birds of prey; herons, egrets, ibis, pelicans and shorebirds such as plovers, willets and terns; woodpeckers, kingfishers, hummingbirds and other small birds, including the painted bunting, which nests on the island. See list of bird species on Cockspur Island

In the waters around Cockspur Island are terrapins, loggerhead turtles, manatees, dolphins, mink and otters. Alligators are sometimes spotted in the moat around the fort.

Nature trails There are seven hiking and biking trails at Fort Pulaski National Monument, ranging from a half mile to 13 miles in length.

The shorter trails visit points of interest on Cockspur Island. Longer trails, including two that leave Cockspur Island to explore parts of the broader National Monument site over on McQueens Island, follow scenic routes through wooded areas and marshes and along the Savannah River.

Download the Fort Pulaski trail guide (3.5MB)

Special Events

Occasional special events, including living history programs, ranger-led hikes and other activities, are held at Fort Pulaski. See the official park calendar for details of upcoming events.

Visitor Information

The following is correct at the time of writing. Please verify details before planning your trip. For additional information, call 912-786-8182 or visit the official website.

Opening hours Fort Pulaski National Monument is open daily, 9am-5pm. It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s days. The bridge that connects Fort Pulaski/Cockspur Island to the mainland closes at 5:15pm.

Admission Adults $7, children (0-15) free. Admission is free for active military and their dependents (ID required). More information

Seniors (62+) and people with disabilities can alternatively obtain an interagency pass (for $20 or for free, respectively), which allows free entrance to most National Park Service and related sites (US citizenship or permanent residency is required). More about interagency passes

Fort Pulaski participates in the National Park Service’s fee free days scheme. Entrance to the National Monument is free to all on these days. See dates for this year’s fee-free days

Pets Leashed dogs are welcome in outdoor spaces at Fort Pulaski and Cockspur Island (including the fort itself). With the exception of trained service animals, they cannot be brought into the Visitor Center. See official pet policy

Getting To Fort Pulaski

Address Fort Pulaski National Monument, Highway 80 East, Savannah, GA 31410
GPS coordinates (entrance gate) N 32.01072, W -080.53525

Fort Pulaski is located on Cockspur Island in the Savannah River, accessible by bridge from the southern bank of the river, off US Highway 80. See on map

Fort Pulaski is around 15 miles (25-35 minutes) from Savannah and 4-6 miles (10-20 minutes) from Tybee Island. Parking is available outside the entrance gate off US Highway 80 and on Cockspur Island itself.

If you don’t have a car, taxi fare from downtown Savannah is $30-$40 each way (including tip) and from Tybee Island, $12-$15 each way. Please note that the entrance gate, at which admission fees are payable, is stationed before the bridge over to Cockspur Island.

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