Dry Tortugas National Park

National Parks Image Gallery

dry tortugas national park
©2006 National Park Services
Fort Jefferson, the largest coastal fort in the United States, occupies most of Garden Key and houses the Dry Tortugas National Park visitor center.
See more pictures of national parks.

Dry Tortugas National Park
PO Box 6208
Key West, FL 33041

Dry Tortugas is one of the most remote national parks in the lower 48 states. Set in the Gulf of Mexico about 70 miles west of Key West, Florida, the park protects 100 square nautical miles of sea, sand, and coral reefs around seven tiny islands known as the Dry Tortugas. Visitors may reach the park only by boat or seaplane and must bring all necessary food, water, and shelter with them.

Entrance fees: $5/adult for seven days

Visitor center: The visitor center is open year-round.

Other services: Boat pier and campround

Accommodations: Garden Key Campground. First-come, first-served.

Dry Tortugas National Park is located off the coast of southwestern Florida.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.

Visiting Dry Tortugas National Park
Ponce de Leon sailed through the waters off the southwestern coast of Florida in 1513 and, noting the abundance of sea turtles, named them Las Tortugas ("the turtles"). They later became known as the Dry Tortugas, owing to the lack of fresh water.

The centerpiece of the park is Fort Jefferson, the largest brick and masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere and the biggest fort still standing from the 19th century. From the standpoint of natural history, the park is important to the region in that it protects seven coral islands -- the Dry Tortugas, the most pristine coral reef in the continental United States.

The Dry Tortugas islands are a wonderland of warm and azure water, white sandy beaches, and coral reefs brimming with life. Snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, and bird-watching are the main pursuits there. On the next page, read some tips for sightseeing at Dry Tortugas.

Dry Tortugas National Park Facts
Region: Off Florida's southwestern coast
Established: 1992
Size: 64,700 acres
Terrain: Seven islands, coral reefs, and 100 square nautical miles of the Gulf of Mexico
Highlights: Fort Jefferson and Garden Key
Wildlife: Migratory birds, sea turtles, and saltwater fish.
Activities: Snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, bird-watching, and camping