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Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas or Dry Turtle is an archipelago consisting of 7 small islands, as well as reefs and sand. It is located 100 kilometers west of the wondrous town of Key West. The flora and fauna are very diverse here, and many legends go about pirate adventures and flooded treasures. Previously, the island was called a turtle, however, in order to warn travelers about the lack of fresh water, it was called dry.

All surrounding islands, as well as the sandbank and the sea, are part of the Dry Tortugas National Park.

Photo of Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Jefferson from above — American ButlerFort Jefferson, Florida

A key object of the Dry Tortugas National Park is a unique coastal fortification and one of the largest in the United States, which Garden Key Island boasts. It is called Fort Jefferson. The fort has the shape of a hexagon and consists of three tiers. Within the walls of the structure, 410 cannons were mounted.

The fort served as a prison for various intruders and deserters during the Civil War, as well as after its completion. But in 1874, after two strong hurricanes, as well as yellow fever, the military left the fort. But in 1898 the army returned to the building to use it in the conduct of the war with the Spaniards.

Also, the defensive structure for 12 years served as a quarantine station. During the First World War, he served as a garrison fort.

Fort Jefferson the truth was never completed. The whole reason is the lack of fresh water on the island. After all, it was necessary to constantly deliver it or to construct filtration facilities, which seriously increased the cost of maintaining the facility. In addition, constant hurricanes annoyed.

After some time, the need for a fortification disappeared, and it became part of the National Register of Historic Places, entering the list of famous historical sites in Florida. And this is part of the history.

Photos of corridors in Fort Jefferson, Florida — Dry Tortugas National Park — American Butler

Photo of a gun at Fort Jefferson in Florida — American ButlerWhat to do and when to visit Dry Tortugas

In Dry Tortugas, civilization failed to squeeze nature. On the islands you can see hundreds of different species of animals, both marine, and air and land. People come here for a feeling of pristine nature untouched by anyone.

In addition, the islands are surrounded by huge coral reefs, in which reigned their own world of turtles, special fish, shellfish and other inhabitants. And the pristine clear water of the ocean makes it possible to contemplate all this wealth.

The waters around Dry Tortugas National Park are excellent places for divers. In addition, here you can see unique birds: hummingbirds, huge frigates, peregrine falcons and more. In one visit you can see at least 70 species of birds. In total there are up to 300 of them. From spring to autumn, you can observe tern nesting here, when up to 100 thousand of them gather.

The park is open all year. And the weather conditions of the subtropics allow you to visit the island at any time. Although if you do not want to get into the heat, it is better to come in the winter.

Regulars say that it is best to relax here from November to May. There is heavy tropical rain in the summer.

Like all the Caribbean, Garden Key Island and the rest of the archipelago included in Dry Tortugas are located in the rose itself — at the junction of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, because there are strongest winds passing in the storms. But this does not affect security.

Fort Jefferson, Florida — Dry Tortugas seaplane photo — American Butler

Photo of Fort Jefferson on Dry Tortuga Island in Florida — American ButlerHow to get to Dry Tortugas

There are two options to get to a unique place — by seaplane or ferry. The park is served by a ferry called The Yankee Freedom III, which is a progressive vessel with all the amenities, capable of developing good speed. Ferry guests can enjoy a free breakfast. On the way back, adults can visit the bar, and children can eat sweets and popcorn. A tour to the island takes 10 hours, therefore it is better to calculate your own time in advance.

Those who want to save time on the way can use another transport - a seaplane. The flight lasts no more than 45 minutes. Tourists can visit the park all day or half a day. Flying over the water surface at a low altitude gives a unique feeling. Tourists can view all the inhabitants of the sea in detail. You can see sharks, dolphins, as well as large turtles.

After arriving at Garden Key Island, guides will conduct a 40-minute fortification tour, as well as snorkeling equipment and drinks.

Camping is another chance to be in a unique park. But it only holds 3 tents in 2 places. But such a vacation is worth the wait for places. It includes traditional swimming and diving, breakfast, as well as lunch on the day of arrival, and a tour of the legendary fort for 40 minutes.

Additional Information
Address

Ferry Terminal:

100 Grinnell St, Key West, FL 33040

Dry Tortuga Visitor Center:

Fort Jefferson, Key West, FL 33040

Phone +1-305-242-7700
Mode of operation

The museum is open:

  • Mon-Sun: 09:00 a.m. – 04:00 p.m.
  • check the weekend on the site.

Ferry opening hours and route:

  • Collection time: 07:00 a.m. (06:30 a.m. vacationers);
  • Landing: 07:30 a.m.
  • Departure: 08:00 a.m.
  • Arrival at Fort Jefferson: 10:15 a.m.*
  • Tour of the fort: 11:00 a.m.
  • Lunch: 11:00 – 01:00 p.m.
  • Departure: 03:00 p.m.
  • Arrival in Key West: 05:15 p.m.*

*Time may vary due to weather conditions.

Cost

Day trip:

Adults

  • 18-64 years old: $175;
  • Senior Citizens: 65+: $165;
  • Military (with ID): $165.

Children

  • 4-16 years: $125;
  • Students from 17 years old (with ID): $165.

Camping :

  • 18-64 years: $195.
  • 4-16 years: $125.

* The park service collects camping fees from $15 to $30 per night, depending on the size of your company.

Prices, excluding children under 4 years old, include $10 per person for entrance to the park.

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