Florida National Parks
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Almost 70 miles (112.9 km) west of Key West lies a cluster of seven islands, composed of coral reefs and sand, called the Dry Tortugas. Along with the surrounding shoals and waters, they make up Dry Tortugas National Park. The area is known for its famous bird and marine life, and its legends of pirates and sunken gold. Fort Jefferson, one of the largest coastal forts ever built, is a central feature.
The Tortugas were first discovered by Ponce de Leon in 1513. Abundant sea turtles or "tortugas" provisioned his ships with fresh meat, but there was no fresh water-the tortugas were dry. Since the days of Spanish exploration, the reefs and shoals of the Dry Tortugas have been a serious hazard to navigation and the site of hundreds of shipwrecks.
P.O. Box 6208
Key West, FL 33041
Operating Hours & Seasons
The park is open all year.
Ft. Jefferson on Garden Key is open during daylight hours; closed at dark.
Loggerhead, East and Middle Keys are open year-round during daylight hours.
Bush Key is closed to visitors February through September to protect nesting Sooty and Noddy Terns. Hospital and Long Keys are closed all year.
Commercial air service is available to Key West International Airport.
Seaplanes of Key West provides air service from Key West to the national park. See Public Transportation below for seaplane information.
There are no roads to Dry Tortugas National Park. It can only be reached by boat or seaplane.
Private pleasure boats are welcome, but must be fully self-sufficient. U.S. Coast Guard and Geodetic Survey Chart #11438 is necessary for navigation to the Dry Tortugas.
Public transportation is described below.
Public transportation - ferry and seaplane - serves the park from Key West.
For ferry schedules, prices, and reservations, contact: Sunny Days: phone 800-236-7937 or 305-292-6100; on the internet at www.drytortugas.com. Yankee Fleet: phone 800-634-0939 or 305-294-7009; on the internet at www.yankeefleet.com.
Seaplane transportation is provided by Seaplanes of Key West. For schedules, prices, and reservations, contact 800-950-2FLY or 305-294-0709; on the internet at www.seaplanesof keywest.com.Fishing and dive charters can be arranged in the Florida Keys and Naples. For a list of services, contact the park at 305-242-7700
Dry Tortugas National Park
Seaplanes of Keywest, Sunny Days Catamarans, and Yankee Freedom are collecting the fee from their passengers. National Parks Pass, Golden Eagle, Golden Age, and Golden Access Passports honored.
Open All Year Daylight hours
Location: Garden Key
Intermittent ranger-led tours.
Self-guiding fort tour with interpretive signs.
Dry Tortugas National Park Visitor Center
Open All Year
Inside Fort Jefferson on Garden Key
Exhibits on the history of Fort Jefferson. Video describing park's history and natural resources.
Visitor Center in Fort Jefferson
Self-guiding walking tour of Fort Jefferson.
Bird and wildlife watching. The Dry Tortugas are renowned for spring bird migrations and tropical bird species.
Salt water sport fishing
Snorkeling, swimming and scuba diving. Patches of healthy coral reef, some easily accessible from Garden Key, are snorkeling havens.
Garden Key - Campground Open
Restrooms, picnic area and the first tier of Fort Jefferson are accessible.
WEATHER AND CLIMATE
Subtropical climate. Temperatures range from the mid-50's to mid-80's. *April and May are often idyllic. There are two seasons: Winter storm season (December-March), windy with rough seas, and Tropical storm season (June-November).