This national park is the nation's only at-sea national park and is home to the historic Fort Jefferson. Located about 70 ... More
Dry Tortugas National Park
This national park is the nation's only at-sea national park and is home to the historic Fort Jefferson. Located about 70 miles west of Key West and accessible only by boat or chartered seaplane, the park and fort lure divers, snorkelers and nature lovers who flock here to get a close look at stag horn coral, angel fish, rare birds and the loggerhead turtles that gave the island its name. Built in 1846, the five-sided fort covers more than 11 of the island's 16 acres.
They must've taken care of the "rat problem" another reviewer mentioned-- we stayed two nights and didn't see the first one. Also not a single mosquito! Very enjoyable and had a nice breeze the entire three days. Snorkeling around the pilings was very good and the fort itself offers shade and a very educational alternative activity for when you're ready to get out of the water. And speaking of the water, we didn't see any rip currents or undertow at all either, as another reviewer mentioned. Lots of sooty terns and noddies nesting on the nearby island are heard around the clock, but not to the point of being obnoxious. Two nights is about as long as I'd want to stay though-- after that point, you've done about all you can do on the island and are ready to get back to Key West.
You can't find anyone in Key West who will tell you NOT to take the tour to Dry Tortuga.
But it's a complete and utter waste of time and money. The beach, if you can call it that,
slants at 50 degrees into an ocean with rips and undertows only five feet away. We sat,
sweltering under the 90 degree sun (there is no shade unless you bring your own or
fight with others for an inch or two under the one palm tree) and watched at least three
people have to be rescued with a rope thrown out to them and hauled back in. The boat
ride over and back is the only part of this experience we enjoyed. The fort itself is educational and fun but in 90 degree temps with no way to cool off. We couldn't wait
for the boat back to Key West. Food is also at a minimum..there is none. You have to be crazy to camp here. Put up a tent in your own back yard, you'll have more fun.
We took the sea plane from Key West out to Ft. Jefferson. The flight was incredible. All the reefs and sunken ships to sharks viewed from the air was outstanding. The fort itself is interesting and to walk the *sidewalk* is so special. Too see where Dr. Mudd stayed and to see the conditions of the place was interesting. Can't wait to go back. Will probably take the sea plane again.
Camping at Ft. Jefferson - The Dirty Little Secret
By A Yahoo Contributor, 7/29/11
I set a personal best by camping on the island for 8 straight nights. It's entirely up to the Fast Cat boat captain if you want to stay longer than the 3 night max that most people do. The limit set by the Park Service is the standard 14 days as with other national parks. Unfortunately, after going there 3 straight years I won't be going back until they get control of the rat problem in the campground. This is the dirty little secret about camping at Ft Jefferson. The rats will eat thru your tent, your coolers, and anything else containing your supplies. (I'm rating as awful to bring light to this problem). Other than this, the place is spectacular once the day trippers leave. Walking around the moat wall in the middle of the night by starlight is awesome!
I had read Nevada Barr's novel FLASHBACK that is a time traveling fictional account of a park ranger in the 21st century and the period after the Lincoln assassination. I wanted to go to Fort Jefferson in the worst possible way and did exactly that. Being from the landlocked Midwest I wasn't prepared for ocean travel and barfed the whole way there. Fortunately, after my head got the message from my stomach I was fine and enjoyed an afternoon of wandering through the fort. I got some absolutely stunning pictures of both the fort and the wildlife (birds & fish). Now I am again reading the novel that brought me there and enjoying the scenery in my mind's eye. BTW, one of the inaccuracies of the novel is the notion that there are flush toilets on the island; there are not. If you need the facilities you have to go back on the boat. There are compost toilets for overnight visitors but these are not available to the day trippers.
beautiful!!!!! the clear waters, colors teals blues they are amazing sight ( unlike the murky brown waters of Ocean City MD UGGGH!!!) ,snorkeling was excellent , got nice pix of fish and coal reefs, do not miss trip well worth the cost WE WILL BE BACK NEXT YEAR !!!!!!!
now the downside , our wonderfull government just pulled the plug on restoration funding on Fort Jefferson !!!! they only have one more side to restore, the work they did on the other walls is very well done . great job guys top notch work !!!! i guess cruise missle launches at Libya are more important...this country is going nuts !!!
well it's 3/25/11 been back home for 1 week now , guess what , it's snowing. i hate winter . but the good side is 50 more weeks till i return to Key West!!!!!!!!
I am a born and raised "conch"(native Key Wester) and at the age of 14 got on board a 110' navy torpedo retriever for the trip..dolphins and flying fish danced in front of the ship as we headed for Dr.Mudd's home after he helped set the broken leg of the assassin,John Wilkes Booth, the murderer of President Lincoln..we spent a weekend at the fort(buildt by the northern forces during the blockade of the south during the Civil War) with my scout troop..Beautiful,quiet,water so clear you can see the sandy bottom..the blues,greens,and aqua hues of the water alone is worth the trip..fish,snorkle,scuba dive in what I consider a paradise...walk the halls of the haunted corridor's...it's a trip you will never forget...a must place to visit if you want to capture the full pleasure of Key West and The Florida Key's!!
Dry Tortugas National Park was absolutely amazing Ive been three times in 2006, 2007, 2008 and they were unbelievable and wonderful. All 3 times i went on Fast Cat and had no problems. my last time we came back to Key West and had to go through a nasty storm and the boat ride was not bad at all. The island was amazing crystal clear water absolutely amazing weather. One of my favorite parts was snorkeling around the island another part was seeing the flying fish during the trip. there is so much to take in. when you break 10 miles from the fort you can see it in the horizon and it is huge when you get to it. I recommend it to others. Dry Tortugas National Park is one of my favorite places to be!
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