Pristine and seren - the Dry Tortugas National Park is truly a slice of Heaven. Dry Tortugas National Park comprises seven islands. The 100-square-mile park is part of the United States National Park system and has been preserved so that it may be enjoyed in all of its natural beauty for generations to come. It is one of the smallest and most remote national parks, but the Dry Tortugas National Park is certainly worth the trip.
Dry Tortugas National Park History
When the Spanish explorer Ponce DeLeon discovered the Dry Tortugas in 1513, he found a plethora of turtles and began referring to the islands by the Spanish word for turtles, "tortugas". In the 1600s and 1700s, the islands that are now the Dry Tortugas National Park were used as a base for pirates capturing merchant ships.
When the United States acquired Florida in 1821, pirate activity slowed. Seen as an ideal location to reinforce the security of the United States, construction began on Fort Jefferson in 1846. Construction continued for nearly 30 years, but was never fully completed. The fort was used for many different purposes throughout history, including a military installation and a prison for deserters. In 1908, the area was designated as a bird reserve and in 1935, Fort Jefferson was named a National Monument. In 1992, the Dry Tortugas National Park gained national park status.
Dry Tortugas National Park Eco-Systems
Dry Tortugas National Park is a subtropical eco-system home to loggerhead and green sea turtles. Birdwatchers have documented nearly 300 species of birds. In the waters surrounding the island, tropical fish abound and are a favorite for Key West snorkeling. The many shipwrecks surrounding Dry Tortugas National Park provide an excellent habitat for sea life and bring many people to scuba Key West.
Visiting The Dry Tortugas National Park
May through October is the rainy season at Dry Tortugas National Park. You can expect temperatures to be between 76 degrees and 85 degrees. The rainy season brings with it warmer, clearer water that makes it an ideal time for Key West snorkeling. This is also a time to experience lush plants in Dry Tortugas National Park and fewer visitors on the islands. Be aware, however, that along with the rainy season comes mosquitoes.
The dry season in Dry Tortugas National Park is from November through April with temperatures between 66 degrees and 76 degrees. Dry Tortugas National Park is always a great place for bird watching. It is a birder's paradise, particularly during the dry season. Dry Tortugas National Park sees the most visitors from March through May - so plan ahead if you are coming to the park during these months. Reservations will fill more quickly. Key West hotels will book faster. There are also more ranger led tours at the park during the dry season.
Because the Dry Tortugas National Park is only accessible by boat, you'll want to contact one of our charters for a pleasurable ride to your destination. Personal watercrafts are NOT allowed in Dry Tortugas National Park. There is a $5 entry fee, but it's worth every penny! So, pack everything you'll need for the day including sunscreen, repellant, towels, swimsuits, snacks, and anything else you may need (you won't find any shopping in Dry Tortugas National Park!) and see the park in all its splendor -- it's an experience unlike any other!