Dry Tortugas – Guardian of the Gulf of Mexico
Almost 70 miles west of Key West lies a cluster of seven islands, composed of coral reefs and sand, called the Dry Tortugas. Along with the surrounding shoals and waters, they make up Dry Tortugas National Park. The area is known for its famous bird and marine life, its legends of pirates and sunken gold, and its military past.
In 1523 the Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon discovered the islands. He gave them the name Dry Tortugas due to 170 sea turtles taken on the islands and shoals by de León’s men. Soon afterward, the word “Dry” was added to the name, to indicate to mariners the islands’ lack of fresh water.
The Dry Tortugas is the most isolated & least visited national park in the United States; it can only accessible by boat, ferry or seaplane from Key West. There are no services out on these islands so you should plan to be self sufficient while in this remote area.
The Dry Tortugas are surrounded by fantastic reefs great for snorkeling & diving. Bush Key offers great bird watching; from your yacht you can watch its wonderful bird sanctuary.
Built in the mid 1800’s Fort Jefferson, located in Garden Key, was used by Union forces during the Civil War. The fort was converted to a prison whose most famous inmate was Dr. Mudd of Lincoln’s time.
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