Florida State Parks Announces Opening of William J. 'Billy Joe' Rish Recreation Area in Cape San Blas


CONTACT: DEP Press Office, 850-245-2112, DEPNews@FloridaDEP.gov

Florida State Parks Announces Opening of William J. 'Billy Joe' Rish Recreation Area in Cape San Blas

~ Recreation area provides beach and bay access ~

Rish Beach

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has announced that William J. “Billy Joe” Rish Recreation Area in Cape San Blas is now open for day use. Experiences currently include access to the beach and bay. Other amenities, including an Olympic-sized swimming pool and overnight accommodations, will be available later this year.

"DEP is proud of this opportunity to provide a barrier-free recreational experience to ensure all visitors are able to experience the Real Florida," said DEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton. "This park features incredible beachfront and bayside settings ideal for a day trip. In the coming months, DEP looks forward to expanding the amenities at the park for people with disabilities, as well as their families, friends and caregivers."

The 100-acre park, which features access to the Gulf of Mexico and St. Joseph Bay, was originally established in the 1970s as an outdoor recreation area for people with disabilities, their families and their caregivers, and it will continue to serve this purpose under DEP’s Division of Recreation and Parks. 

Stewardship of the park transferred to DEP from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities on Dec. 1, 2021. The park has been closed since Hurricane Michael made landfall on the Florida Panhandle in October 2018.

Park admission is $6 per vehicle, up to eight people, to be paid at an honor box. 

“We’re thrilled and honored to add William J. ‘Billy Joe’ Rish Recreation Area to our award-winning state park system,” said Chuck Hatcher, acting director of Florida State Parks. “Providing access for everyone is one of our core values, and we look forward to providing a safe, inclusive space where visitors can enjoy our state’s natural beauty.” 

The only four-time winner of the National Gold Medal for Excellence, Florida State Parks is committed to providing accommodations so all guests may enjoy the Real Florida ℠. Beach wheelchairs are available at every coastal park, multiple parks offer wheelchair-accessible trams, and most recently, the first wheelchair-accessible glass-bottom boat debuted at Silver Springs State Park. 

Florida State Parks welcomes visitors with service animals and strives to design and construct accessible buildings and facilities that provide access for all visitors and comply with applicable Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) laws, regulations and standards.

Learn more about the available experiences and amenities at William J. “Billy Joe” Rish Recreation Area.