Beautiful and isolated
Limited Camping area
A great place to relax for a day or more
The national park service has informational signs about even the smallest plants, but most of their energy is concentrated on the birdsBetween March and September as some 100,000 sooty terns gather on Bush Key for their nesting season. They perform nocturnal maneuvers above the Dry Tortugas but spent their days at sea. When they do land here in...more
Most of the ferries have a guided tour for their visitors. We listened in on one of these tours one morning when we were there. There are also intermittent ranger-led tours and also wildlife and bird tours led by the rangers. Check at the visitor center for more information. But there is also a self-guiding trail that interprets the history of...more
It is always fun to meet the locals and your fellow travelers. Here are: Angela and Brooke part of the crew of the Fast Cat (and some guy in a VT Hat); Tony; Ranger Kelly; Shannon a volunteer at the park; and Nathalie a Russian girl working in New York and Aleks her Azeri friend and coworker.more
This is the dungeon where the prisoners were held. Dr. Mudd was held here to but he had his own cell. There is still a lot of debate as to whether Mudd was a willing co-conspirator to the assassination of President Lincoln or was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. While he was here he worked again as a doctor and was very helpful during a...more
The passengers on either of the ferry boats get lunch included in their fee. The seaplane people get two drinks in a cooler with ice, but no food. So if you come by seaplane for the whole day, bring your own lunch.
Favorite Dish: The larger boat has a snack bar on it. I don't know if it is open during the time they are at the fort.
About the only night time activity is watching the sunset (or the clouds - photo 4) and the birds circling over the fort (photo 2 and 3), or talking to other campers or boaters. Photo 5 shows a workboat and a sailboat anchored in front of the fort.After the commercial fishermen come in an anchor, you could possibly row over to their boats and trade...more
In the Keys nearby areas, shrimping is done at night. The shrimp boats anchor during the day (like photo), looking like ghost ships covered with cobwebs (their nets). Sometimes there's a dog on board who will bark at you when you get close.Shrimpers are pretty rough uncouth characters. They stay out for days at a time.My SIL takes beer and...more
I give in. I'll take a stab at upgrading this tip since someone has decided to rate it daily. I recommend the Fast Cat for it's cleanliness, timeliness and the capable staff. I found it superior to one of the slower boats on a number of points but most simply because it afforded us more time at our destination. If you are more interested in a slow...more
I took the Fast Cat. It goes 27 knots and makes the 70 mile trip in about 2 ½ hours. It was fast and clean and the crew was very friendly and professional. A limited breakfast and a lunch was provided. The fare was $165 as of April 2010. I got a $30 discount because of my military service. There is another larger and slower boat you can take too.more
Obey all warning signs around the island. Although the fort is a level walking surface the footing is sometimes rough. The stairs are spiral and the steps narrow. There are cacti and open vents around the fort so be careful where you step. Stay off the cannons and the fort walls for you safety and the preservation of the fort.Snorkel with a buddy...more
The fort was not build as a prison. It became a prison in 1861when President Lincoln commuted the sentence for deserters to life imprisonment here - it had no dungeons, but it was very secure because it was so isolated.On April 15, 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot and killed President Abraham Lincoln. When he leaped from the box to the stage, he caught...more
What would a fort built on an island out in the middle of the sea want with a moat? Isn't the whole ocean the moat? Au contraire. The moat wall (the ribbon of brickwork that surrounds the fort) acts as a breakwater to shelter it from waves. It also serves to keep an enemy warship from sailing right up against the fort, and allowing them to...more
Luggage and bags:
soft side luggage - camping gear. Wheeled bags aren't much good in sand.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Shoes that won't mind if they get wet. Swim suit and thermal protection if you are there in the winter. A hat with a brim
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: sunscreen and insect repellant
Photo Equipment: You can buy an underwater one-use camera there.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Tent etc. There's bbqs and tables there.
Miscellaneous: Water, water, water and all the food you will need. You can't buy anything there. And trash bags to bring back all your trash.
The lighthouse on Loggerhead Key was built in 1858 to replace the Fort Jefferson light because even with this light, ships still ran aground on the surrounding nearly eighty-square-mile grouping of reefs, shoals, and islands known as the Dry Tortugas. (Then the lighthouse at the fort was reduced to a harbor light.) A red sector was placed in the...more
Although it is difficult to be very 'off the beaten track' here, many people may miss the fact that there is a very good informational video in the National Park visitor's information center. There are also books full of documentation and information on the building of the fort, people who were stationed or lived here, and the birdsMost national...more
My husband and son and their buddies love to go down here to fish. I don't eat fish so I rarely go with them. The boys usually stop at a shrimp boat on the way down. The shrimpers sleep during the day and work at night. They will give you a pail of shrimp for beer or other recreational drinks or drugs. There is no fuel sold at Ft. Jefferson so you...more
There is a good anchorage off the fort. It used to be that you could come into it from either end, but the access from the north side has drifted shut, so you have to go all the way around the fort and come in from the south. Vessels may only anchor overnight on sandy bottom within one nautical mile of the Garden Key Harbor Light. Vessels in Garden...more
Almost 70 miles (113 km) 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 bird and marine life, its legends of pirates and sunken gold, and its military past. The islands were...more
The fort is the main thing to see at the park, but it isn't the only thing. There's also the amazing underwater life and the birds. In the spring, the trees may be filled with hummingbirds and song birds resting on their migration north from central america. It must be an amazing sight. Observing the scenery and walking around the fort before the...more