Dry Tortugas National Park located on the Dry Tortugas islands, southwestern Florida, USA. The islands situated at the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico, west of Key West, Florida.
Designed in 1935 as Fort Jefferson National Monument, the park occupies an area of about 101 square miles. Its present name adopted in 1992. The park’s major features are a marine exhibit and the remains of fortifications built in 1846.
Accessible only by boat or seaplane, the park is well-known the world over as the home of spectacular Fort Jefferson, stunning blue waters, superlative coral reefs and marine life, and the vast assortment of bird life that regular the area.
Camping at Dry Tortugas National
Camping at Garden Key is an extraordinary experience. Amazing star gazing, snorkeling, sunsets and more! But you must be ready to camp in this remote location.
Campsite Information: A 10-site, primitive camp-ground located on Garden Key, the same island as Fort Jefferson, and is a short walk from the public dock. Eight individual sites can each accommodate up to 3 2-person tents, and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. All campers, once they arrive will be guaranteed a place to camp. Gas camping stoves or charcoal briquettes placed in campsite BBQ units are the only fires allowed.
Due to the limited number of spots on the ferry and the limited number of camping sites, we recommend booking your trip months in advance, especially during the winter holidays and winter season that tends to be busier as visitors from northern chilly climates head to the south Florida sunshine.
Camper’s Check-list :
- Food and Water: We recommend two gallons of water per person per day (remember the heat). Bring an extra day’s supply of food and water in case of ferry cancellations. Bring food items in hard-sided containers for protection from rats and crabs. Posts are available to hang food and trash.
- Shelter: Tent (required), sleeping bag and pad, and strong stakes for the frequent high winds.
- Cooking: Matchlight charcoal for camp-ground grills (fuel is not permitted aboard ferries), waterproof matches and lighter, cooking utensils, biodegradable soap, and trash bags.
- Clothing: Cold and warm-weather clothing, rain gear, lightweight long-sleeve shirt and pants for sun and bug protection, wide-brimmed hat.
- Personal Equipment: Medications, first aid kit, knife, flash-light with spare batteries, snorkel gear, binoculars, sunglasses and sunscreen, insect repellent, and personal items.
- Groups: The group site is available for groups of 10-20 campers, and must reserve in advance. Check with ferries first for extra group size and gear restrictions. Then call 305-242-7700 to get an application for a group site reservation. Groups of 10 or more campers arriving without a reservation will not receive exclusive use of the group site.
Quick take on camping gear
- Tents, gear, and supplies must pack in tote bags or bins, and you must be able to carry your gear on board without help. All camping gear must be free standing.
- Kayaks: $20 round-trip, and reservations required. Kayaks must be under 15 feet 6 inches.
- Coolers must fit under the bench seats; no propane or gas fuels allowed. Bring self-starting charcoal or Sterno for cooking.
Carts are available at Fort Jefferson’s dockhouse for transporting your gear to the campground.
- Click here for more information on camping in the Dry Tortugas.
other activities in Fort Jefferson
- Snorkeling and Diving
- Recreational Fishing
- Wildlife Viewing
Getting at Dry Tortugas National Park :
Ferry or Seaplane offer Public Transportation
Public transportation departs to the park from Key West.
- For ferry schedules, prices, and reservations, contact: Yankee Freedom II: phone 800-634-0939 or 305-294-7009 or www.drytortugas.com.
- For seaplane schedules, prices, and reservations, contact: Key West Seaplane Adventures: phone 305-293-9300 or www.keywestseaplanecharters.com.
Charters are another option : Fishing and dive charters can arrange in the Florida Keys and Naples. For a list of services, contact the park at 305-242-7700 or view a list of charters here.
Private Boats : Private pleasure boats are welcome, but must be self-sufficient and must get a permit through the Park Rangers at Garden Key. U.S. Coast Guard and Geodetic Survey Chart #11438 is necessary for navigation to the Dry Tortugas. Click here to view the chart.
Note for private boats – There are Visitor boat slips available for short term use to load and unload or tour the fort at Garden Key. These docks are not available for overnight – boats must anchor in the harbor overnight. There are no public docks at loggerhead.
Private seaplanes that are not for hire are welcome at the Dry Tortugas. Because of sensitive resource issues, any individual or group wishing to fly a private seaplane to the park must have a Special Use Permit issued through Everglades National Park.
There are no facilities at the Dry Tortugas National Park so all seaplanes must have enough fuel and supplies for a round trip flight. Information on how to get a permit may Click here.
There is no fuel, water, charcoal, or food service available in the park.
Upon arrival, check in with a Park Ranger to file required permits as well as find out about tours at the park.
A boat is necessary to visit areas of the park other than Garden Key/Fort Jefferson.
Dry Tortugas National Park Address & Contact :
Mailing Address: 40001 SR-9336, Homestead, FL 33034
Phone: +1 305-242-7700
Website : www.nps.gov/drto/index.htm
Categories: Travel Attractions