Turtle Mound is the highest shell midden in the nation. This two-acre site contains over 35,000 cubic yards of oyster shell, extends more than six hundred feet along the Indian River shoreline, and stands about fifty feet tall. (In prehistoric times, it was at least seventy-five feet high.) Visible for miles offshore, the mound has been used as a navigational landmark since the early days of Spanish exploration.
In 1605, Spanish explorer Alvaro Mexia visited the site, called Surruque, and reported natives launching their dugout canoes at the mound's base. Over the years, this huge feature began to take the form of a turtle--hence its name.
Today, the National Park Service offers a fun and educational boardwalk to the top of Turtle Mound, with interpretive signs along the way. From the peak, visitors can see the great estuaries used by native people during the late-St. Johns period. The panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean, Merritt Island, the Indian River, and Mosquito Lagoon is spectacular, and one which was surely enjoyed by the prehistoric inhabitants of the area.
From the city of New Smyrna Beach, take the South Causeway Bridge (S.R..44) east to A1A; go south on A1A to the national seashore entrance and follow signs south to Turtle Mound. A fee is charged for visiting the federal lands.