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Exploring the Dry Tortugas National Park

Exploring the Dry Tortugas National Park

About Book

The Dry Tortugas National Park is a National Park of the United States. The spectacular and divine wonderland is located in the Gulf of Mexico, about 68 miles (109 km) west of Key West. It is home to Fort Jefferson and the seven Dry Tortugas islands – the most isolated islands of the Florida Keys.

Dry Tortugas National Park is a matchless and distinctive US Natural Park thanks to its assortment of mainly untouched tropical ecology mixed in with artifacts of historical times. This National Park is known for its bright and multi-colored and untouched coral reefs, abundant sea life, legends of sunken treasures and shipwrecks, and tropical bird breeding grounds.

The main attraction of the Dry Tortugas National Park is Fort Jefferson – a colossal coastal fortress that was left unfinished. Fort Jefferson is the biggest brick masonry formation in the Western Hemisphere – it is made of over 16 million bricks! It is the third biggest fort in the United States, after Fort Adams, Rhode Island and Fort Monroe, Virginia. The fort was built in the civil era on about 16 acres of land.

Dry Tortugas National Park comes under the Everglades & Dry Tortugas Biosphere Reserve that was founded by UNESCO in 1976 under the umbrella of its Man and the Biosphere Program. The stretch of islands that come under the National Park has the most undisturbed body of coral reefs amongst all of the Florida Keys reefs.

You can reach and visit the Dry Tortugas National Park only by a boat or seaplane. The park offers a wide array of water related activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking. It is also a great place for fishing enthusiasts as the seawater offers saltwater fishing opportunities.

Date of Establishment

The Dry Tortugas National Park was initially known as the Fort Jefferson National Monument. The name was designated on January 4, 1935, by the US President Franklin D. Roosevelt under the Antiquities Act. The park was then expanded in 1983 and later renamed by the Congress as the Dry Tortugas National Park on October 26, 1992. It covers an expansive area of 47,125 acres and is managed by the workforce behind Everglades National Park. The park was founded to protect the marine ecosystems and the island of the Dry Tortugas to conserve Fort Jefferson and the submerged cultural relics – shipwrecks – and allow regulated access to the public. Around 63,000 visitors visited the park yearly, from the year 2008 to 2017.

Popular Season to Visit

The weather in the Dry Tortugas is subtropical – the temperature ranges from 60°F to 90°F and the weather is warm and tropical. The temperatures can go as low as mid-50s during the coldest winter months. Most travelers agree that the ideal time to visit the Dry Tortugas is from November to April.  

However, the Key West seas are likely to be rougher and the winds are stronger from October to January. Although the summer seas are not as forceful, the summertime hurricane spell terrorizes the Dry Tortugas islands with spur-of-the-moment hurricanes that can be quite forceful even if they are well off at a safe distance from the Tortugas.

So, the best months to visit the park are from February to April. The weather is thoroughly pleasant throughout these months – there is no threat of rainfall, hurricanes, or strong winds. Regrettably, these are also the busiest most-touristy months down in Key West. So, make sure to book your seaplane ride well in advance so that you can enjoy the Dry Tortugas National Park in all its glory.