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Discover Dry Tortugas National Park & Fort Jefferson in the Florida Keys

Sure, you’re aware that Florida is home to some incredible state and national parks, and you’re certainly aware that there’s little in the world that can compare to the Florida Keys. But did you know that one of the most secluded parks in the world lies just outside Key West?

Dry Tortugas National park
Credit: Dry Tortugas National park by wikimedia.org

70 miles west of Key West, only accessible via boat or sea plane, lies Dry Tortugas National Park, one of the world’s most remote national parks. The 100-square mile park is mostly open water with seven small islands. Many park visitors arrive to the remote island via ferry, but many others opt for a sea plane ride or take the journey on private vessels.

Dry Tortugas
Credit: Dry Tortugas by Dominic Sherony via Flickr

Less than 1 percent of it’s overall 100 acres is dry land. The real beauty of this remote island lies beneath the ocean surface. Those who arrive via the ferry are given a complimentary mask and snorkel upon arrival to the island, and are encouraged to explore the coral reef system that is the world’s 3rd largest, and arguably one of the most vibrant. It stretches from Dry Torguas in the Gulf of Mexico down to Miami in the Atlantic.

Key West

The combination of easterly flowing gulf waters and the remote location has made the perfect environment for what is arguably some of the best snorkeling and diving in North America.

Dry Tortugas National Park
Credit: Dry Tortugas National Park by drytortugasnps

Because its remote location has kept human interference low, the marine life has  remained abundant. In fact, when Ponce de Leon discovered the islands of this park, the abundance of marine life, especially turtles, were so impressive it warranted the name Dry Tortugas.  On top of that, over 300 species of birds populate the park, and it serves as a crucial part of migration patterns.

Fort Jefferson
Credit: Fort Jefferson by Russell Conard

One of the most awe-inspiring sights at the park is Fort Jefferson, located on Garden Key. The crown jewel of the park, this 19th century fortress has a history so rich you’ll be dying to explore it for yourself.

If you desire to extend your stay, you can camp overnight near Fort Jefferson on Garden Key on one of 8 primitive campsites.

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