Day Trip to Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park is not only one of the most remote National Parks in America but it may be the coolest. Dry Tortugas National Park is located at the far west end of the Florida Keys and is about 70 miles from Key West. It’s one of the most dramatic parks I’ve visited. Much like Bryce Canyon National Park or the Grand Canyon; you’ll find yourself in awe. A day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park is a hike and takes money and effort, but it’s well worth it!

Day Trip to Dry Tortugas National Park

View coming via seaplane on a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park

You take a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park via seaplane or via ferry. The ferry costs about $185 and takes nearly 3 hours each way. Plus you have to deal with water conditions and it can get bumpy. I am not a lover of smaller boats as anyone who knows me will attest so I prefer the seaplane every day of the week.

Seaplane parked at Key West Airport

Seaplane parked at Key West Airport

I flew with a company called Key West Seaplane Adventures and it cost about $380 and takes about 40 minutes each way. The other advantage of the seaplane is you get perspective and get to see things you cannot possibly see from the ferry.

Seaplane parked at Dry Tortugas National Park

Seaplane parked at Dry Tortugas National Park

Flying over the Marquesas Islands (no not those Marquesas Islands) is cool because it’s a coral atoll like you’d see in the South Pacific. Plus you’ll see dolphins, sea turtles and sharks from the sky and also a few shipwrecks!

Flying over the Marquesas Islands

Flying over the Marquesas Islands

Ponce De Leon discovered the Dry Tortugas when he was searching for the Fountain of Youth. It is called Tortugas (turtles in Spanish) because De Leon found so many sea turtles and Dry because there was no fresh drinking water.

Day Trip to Dry Tortugas National Park

Entrance to Fort Jefferson at Dry Tortugas National Park

Back in the mid 19th century Fort Jefferson was constructed and never finished. Even today it is the largest brick masonry building in the western hemisphere. It is very impressive to see from the sky and from the ground.

Gorgeous archways inside Fort Jefferson

Gorgeous archways inside Fort Jefferson

Fort Jefferson is the centerpiece of Dry Tortugas National Park and should be viewed in 3 ways. First, walk the grounds inside Fort Jefferson. It is very cool to see the hallways and arched walkways, windows to the sea and prison cells. Accomplices to John Wilkes Booth, the man who assassinated Abraham Lincoln, were held at Fort Jefferson amongst others.

Ruins on the inside of Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortugas National Park

Ruins on the inside of Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortugas National Park

Second, climb up to the third level or the roof, if you will. This will give you great panoramic views over and across the fort.

Cannons atop Fort Jefferson looking over the courtyard

Cannons atop Fort Jefferson looking over the courtyard

You’ll see the cannons and get to feel what it must’ve been like on lookout 150 years ago. I always love trying to put myself back in time to when places were functional. That’s one of the best things about travel, it gets your imagination going!

Moat view from atop Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortugas National Park

Moat view from atop Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortugas National Park

You’ll see great views along the moat and the fort itself and discover how mind blowing it is. Plus you’ll get great views of the beaches and amazing water. This view below is particularly gorgeous.

Stunning beach views from atop Fort Jefferson

Stunning beach views from atop Fort Jefferson

Finally, be sure to walk the seawall that surrounds Fort Jefferson. It shows you the intricacies of the architecture and will wow you with the moat. I loved every second of it.

Killer seawall view walking along Fort Jefferson

Killer seawall view walking along Fort Jefferson

It will also show you the devastation of Hurricane Irma; which managed to put a large hole in the seawall so it doesn’t completely connect anymore. It’s very cool to see a mix of centuries old architecture and the awesome power of nature.

Hurricane Irma destroyed a portion of the seawall surrounding Fort Jefferson

Hurricane Irma destroyed a portion of the seawall surrounding Fort Jefferson

There is also a visitor’s center inside Fort Jefferson complete with exhibits and 3D Videos. There are disgusting toilets near the main entrance; which defers to the toilets on the ferry when it arrives around 11am. Trust me, I wish I had waited!

Some of the water at North Beach in Dry Tortugas National Park

Some of the water at North Beach in Dry Tortugas National Park

The other popular activities are kayaking and snorkeling. You can snorkel best at South Beach and North Beach on opposite sides of the island. Kayaks are available by the port. You can also always just lie out on the beach or go for a swim. Either way, a great day will be had on a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park!

Comments

  1. Jennifer says:

    I live in south Florida and have never heard of this place! You’ve given us a new place to see in our own backyard, thanks!

  2. Mesmerizing photography and colors.

  3. Patrick says:

    Wow… looks amazing.
    A day trip to this National Park will be so much fun.
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Wow! Such a nice place.
    This deserves to be on my travel goals.
    Thanks for this post!

  5. It looks that you had a great time in Dry Tortugas National Park. Thank you for sharing this wonderful article. You shared great photographs.

  6. Nice post…

  7. Wow I don’t think I have seen seas quite so blue! I love these pictures and your writing as well. Seeing them make me even more exceited to start my traveling this summer also. If you want to check it out, have a look at my new little blog here, https://caitytootill.wixsite.com/writtenwithlove

  8. Dee Dee says:

    Beautiful Lee! I was first introduced to your experiences through Dennis O. I worked with him when he was in NorCal. I love your postings.

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