Dry Tortugas National Park
Guide

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Introduction

Featuring a cluster of seven islands, each unique in its own way, Dry Tortugas National Park is an amazing destination for water-related recreation and nature observation. Located about 70 miles west of Key West, Florida, this 100 sq. mile remote national park is only accessible by boats or seaplane, meaning the adventure begins from the journey to the park.

Home to the magnificent Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park offers opportunities to enjoy many different recreational activities. You can swim in the park’s waters or snorkel to points where you’ll see beautiful coral reefs, seagrasses and shipwrecks. Treasure hunting is also an option at the park as geocaches are distributed across the islands. Boating also offers you the chance to explore the islands and move seamlessly between them. Moreover, the beautiful wildlife, birds, and fishes also create their own opportunities. Rangers are also available in the park to guide visitors and campers on tours of the islands’ features.

There are no RV campsites in Dry Tortugas National Park as only primitive campsites are available. A KOA campground that offers RV camping options with full hookups is available 14 miles east of Key West.

Park Alerts (3)

[Caution] Garden Key Harbor Light

Vessel operators - the Garden Key Harbor Light is undergoing repairs and is extinguished. At this time it is unknown when the light will again be illuminated.

[Caution] Marine Waters Are Open, Extreme Caution Advised

Waters have not been fully inspected, hazards may exist. The park has limited emergency response capabilities. Users of mooring buoys assume all risk. Some park areas remain closed to the public.

[Caution] Damage to Windjammer Dive Site Mooring Ball

The Windjammer dive site mooring ball (SW of Loggerhead Key) has been damaged and is off-station. Please call "National Park Service, Dry Tortugas" on vhf16 when within the national park for latest information on availability of this dive site.

RV Rentals in Dry Tortugas National Park

Transportation in Dry Tortugas National Park

Driving

As Dry Tortugas National Park consists of seven islands, the park is not accessible by vehicles. The furthest point any vehicle can access is Key West. Thereafter the trip will be by boat, ferry, or seaplanes.

Parking

There are no parking spaces in Dry Tortugas National Park.

Public Transport

Ferry or seaplane offer public transportation to Dry Tortugas National Park from Key West.

Campgrounds and parking in Dry Tortugas National Park

Campsites in Dry Tortugas National Park

Reservations camping

Sugarloaf Key / Key West KOA

Located 14 miles east of Key West in Summerland Key, Florida, Sugarloaf Key/Key West KOA features 346 campsites available for various camping activities. Campsites that support RVs and trailers in the campground can accommodate those up to 50 feet in length.

At the campground, there are full hookup options (electric, water, and sewer hookups) for RVs as well as numerous facilities and amenities that make camping memorable. Bike and boat rentals are available at the campground and public bus services are available.

Campsites in the campground are reservable.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Dry Tortugas National Park

Spring

Birding

As a world-class bird watching destination, Dry Tortugas National Park is a place to visit. With about 300 species of birds sighted in the park, there are more than enough bird viewing opportunities for campers and visitors who love the sight of these creatures. Visiting the park during spring offers campers the opportunity to see birds that are migrating to and from South and North America during that season.

There are birds that nest on the islands of Dry Tortugas that you’ll find nowhere else in the continental US. Examples include sooty terns and frigate bird.

Geocaching

Dry Tortugas National Park is a place to engage in real-world treasure hunt, owing to the fact that the park features geocaches distributed within the park’s area. Hidden containers across the islands give visitors the opportunity to test their searching and hunting skills. GPS-enabled devices are required to locate the hidden treasures.

All campers are welcome to participate in the geocaching exercise as all that's required is a free online registration on geocaching.com to be part of the treasure hunters.

Summer

Snorkeling

Snorkeling is a wonderful adventure at Dry Tortugas National Park because the park is home to natural wonders that lie below the surface of the water. Seagrass communities and corals are abundant in the park’s waters, offering interesting sights to campers who enjoy snorkeling. Even more, snorkelers get to see an incredible amount of shipwrecks and historic artifacts in the park’s waters too.

There are designated diving and snorkeling sites in the park and all campers are advised to remain within these areas.

Fall

Boating

Bring your own boat as you visit Dry Tortugas National Park to have the opportunity to explore the park in its entirety. As the park is situated about 70 miles west of Key West, you’ll be embarking on a long trip, so you should prepare yourself adequately for the journey with food, water and fuel. It’s best to have NOAA nautical charts 11438 and 11434 to guide you on your journey to the park. The trip to the park from Key West is just the beginning of the adventure since you get to still visit any, or all, of the seven islands in your own boat when you arrive at the park. Boat rentals are not available in the park.

Wildlife Viewing

Dry Tortugas National Park features a wide variety of wildlife above and within the park’s waters. This beautiful wildlife in the park makes it a spectacular destination to watch these species in their natural environment. You’ll get the chance to see crocodiles, sea turtles, nurse sharks, and coral reefs, as well as some threatened and endangered species in the park. All campers who sight these wildlife species in the park are advised to keep their distance from them.

Winter

Ranger Programs

At Dry Tortugas National Park, there are a wide range of ways to explore and enjoy the resources offered at the park. One such way is by participating in the ranger guided tours that are available and open to all. From Fort Jefferson History Tours, to ecological moat walks, and living history demonstrations, there is no shortage of exciting and educational programs for visitors and campers at the park. Night sky programs are also available. As soon as you arrive, just find out what programs are available and join in!

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