Dry Tortugas National Park

If you're taking a trip to Key West, you should save a day for visiting Dry Tortugas National Park. Dry Tortugas National Park is a jewel of the national park system offering unparalleled natural beauty in a remote setting. You can only get there by charter boat and the trip is about 70 miles from the shores of Key West, but your day visiting this string of small islands will certainly be well worth it.

The Skies Above Dry Tortugas National Park

Because of its location, Dry Tortugas National Park is not only home to beautiful native birds, it is also a perfect stop for migratory birds heading north for the summer or south for the winter. If you love birds, the sights you'll see in Dry Tortugas National Park will captivate you. You may spot 100,000 Sooty Terns during the nesting season between March and September or you may be dazzled by a bird like the Frigate Bird with a wingspan of 7-feet!

While spring is the best time of year for viewing birds in Dry Tortugas National Park, there really is no bad time of the year. You can look for birds like the yellow-billed cuckoo, the shiny cowbird, or the ruby-throated hummingbird. You may also spot double crested cormorants, red-footed boobies, or the Caribbean short-eared owl. Nearly 300 different species of birds have been spotted in the park. You can get a check off guide from the park service before heading out to see how many you can find.

The Waters Below Dry Tortugas National Park

As home to North America's largest living coral reef, Dry Tortugas National Park has also become a favorite for Key West snorkeling and Key West scuba divers. The reef is an ecosystem home to fantastic marine life. There are Key West charters that come to this area specifically for the snorkeling and diving. You may spot dolphin, sea turtles, or an array of tropical fish. With great visibility, there's nothing like the underwater experience of Dry Tortugas National Park.

There are deep shipwrecks to enjoy while scuba diving Key West and there are wrecks in the shallow waters close enough to view when you snorkel in Key West. Besides being intriguing in and of themselves, these shipwrecks also provide habitat for varied forms of sea life.

Whether you're an expert diver or a novice snorkeler, you'll find a Key West charter to fit your needs. Simply search www.bestonkeywest.com or inquire at your Key West inn for detailed information about available trips to Dry Tortugas National Park for water sports.

All Around Dry Tortugas National Park

The wonder is all around you at Dry Tortugas National Park. Not only will you find a beautiful environment, Dry Tortugas National Park is also home to Fort Jefferson. Originally built in 1846 as an "advanced post" to protect U.S. sailing interests in the Gulf of Mexico, Fort Jefferson has served many purposes since then including a prison and quarantine station. Rich with history, the fort is now part of the National Park system and open to the public who arrive on special charters.

The Dry Tortugas National Park is closed to private boats. It is in a natural state, so bring what you will need to enjoy your day and "pack out" anything you bring with you. When planning your trip, be sure to include sunscreen, swimsuits, sunglasses, and bug spray as well as an inquisitive spirit, ready to learn about the unique ecosystems around you