Your visit to South Florida’s Keys would not be complete without enjoying a one-of-a kind visit to the Dry Tortugas which lie about 70 miles West of Key West. Most people don’t know it, but the Keys do not end in Key West, only the highway (US1) ends there.
About the Park
Dry Tortugas National Park is the most inaccessible park in the USA and can be approached only by boat or seaplane. It is the home of a host of historical treasures and natural wonders, both above and below the crystal blue water’s surface. This park has long been an inspiration to visitors who regularly report all sort of enchanting and memorable experiences there.
These small islands were first discovered in 1513 by the Spanish explorer Ponce De Leon. They were first named Las Tortugas (the Turtles), because of the abundance of sea turtles. The word “dry” was later added due to there being no source of fresh water on any of the islands.
Dry Tortugas National Park is best known for its abundant marine life, tropical birds (and their breeding grounds), colorful coral reefs, warm, clear waters, and legends of pirates, shipwrecks and sunken treasures. The Park is actually about 100 square miles but 98% of it is covered by water. The 7 tiny keys (islands) that make up the Dry Tortugas only account for a total of 97 acres (less than 1/6th of a sq. mi.).
The park’s focal centerpiece is Fort Jefferson. Fort Jefferson is a massive (although unfinished) coastal fortress. It is the largest masonry structure in the Americas, containing over 16 million bricks. By 1865 the fort was used to house Union Army deserters and held about six hundred prisoners.
Fort Jefferson’s most famous prisoner was Samuel Alexander Mudd I, M.D. an American physician who was convicted and imprisoned for aiding and conspiring with John Wilkes Booth in the 1865 assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. In 1867, an outbreak of yellow fever overtook the Dry Tortugas and Mudd assumed the role as the new prison doctor. President Andrew Johnson pardoned Mudd shortly before he left office in March, 1869. The idiom “your name is mud” is commonly associated with Dr. Mudd.
Snorkel or Swim adventures
Dry Tortugas National Park offers what many consider the best snorkeling in the North Americas. Regardless of whether you are a beginner or expert, you can enjoy a myriad of colorful tropical fish and living coral. Snorkeling is in only four to seven feet of water, straight off the dazzlingly white sand beach of Garden Key (the island we’ll take you to). Even if you choose not to snorkel, it’s always good to bring a bathing suit and towel, since the swimming is also great. And, while you’re at it, don’t forget your camera – the photo ops are endless.
Cruise or fly – we offer day trips and a half day trip to Garden Key
Cruise to Ft. Jefferson aboard a high-speed ocean-going catamaran. This 9½ hour trip includes ample time to tour Garden Key and the fort, swim/snorkel, and observe the myriad of marine, bird and other wildlife there. For details, click on: Yankee Freedom to Dry Tortugas
Don’t miss out on the awesome splendor of this National Park. At CoolKeyWest.com we will make sure we find the right package just for you! Feel free to contact us with any questions.