FORT JEFFERSON, DRY TORTUGAS

Where

Dry Tortugas National Park is a remote island sited almost 70 miles (113 km) west of Key West. You can’t drive to the island; the only way to get here is via boat or seaplane. Ferry and seaplane services will bring you to Garden Key. Here’s information on how to explore other areas of the park. Here’s a Dry Tortugas National Park map.

Vibe

Beyond-remote tropical island with blow-your-mind snorkeling centered around a 19th Century Fort. Prepared to be awed: Dry Tortugas is an escape in the truest sense of the word, renowned globally for stunning Fort Jefferson, gin-clear waters, exceptional coral reefs, diverse marine life, and abundance of bird species.

See, feel

When you first see Garden Key, whether from the air or the ferry, it’s impossible to pull your eyes away. Fort Jefferson, a formidable, red brick fortress with a striking hexagonal shape, rises from the Gulf of Mexico, dominating the island. The unbelievably clear waters surrounding it are a bewitching emerald-hue, with reefs noticeably visible from the surface. You’re likely to see planes docked on the brilliant white sand—a dreamy scene out of a movie—and snorkelers exploring.

The swim areas on Garden Key are accessible via North, South, and East Beach, with beaches that offer a gradual slope and easy entry, perfect for beginner swimmers and snorkelers.

On or near the beach

Swimming and snorkeling are must-dos. Due to its secluded location and the gulf current, the park promises more marine life and often, much larger versions of it, than anywhere else in the Florida Keys. On a snorkeling expedition, expect to see boldly-patterned tropical fish and a vibrant, living coral beneath a mere four to seven feet of water, directly off the beach.

Explore Fort Jefferson to take a stroll through the past—one that’s boiling with strife, sorrow and bold personalities.
Other activities include birdwatching and fishing, both exceptional, as well as camping.

Accessibility

The Yankee Freedom Ferry has lifts at the dock, one accessible bathroom and is ADA compliant. Fort Jefferson is accessible only on its first tier. Here’s more accessibility information.

Facilities

Garden Key is home to the park headquarters, a visitor center, picnic tables, and campgrounds. No public restrooms are available at the park, but you can use the facilities provided onboard the Yankee Freedom. Composting toilets are available for visitors to use within the campground and after 2:30 p.m.

There are no restaurants, shops, or any other services that offer food, water or fuel on the island. The ferry provides breakfast and lunch for its passengers. Check out the answers to frequently asked questions from Dry Tortugas National Park.

Lifeguards

No lifeguards are on duty. Swim at your own risk.

Parking

Not applicable

Places to Remember