Explore pre-Civil War Fort Jefferson and pristine beaches in the remote Dry Tortugas National Park.

Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida Keys

Explore pre-Civil War Fort Jefferson and pristine beaches in the remote Dry Tortugas National Park.

Matt and Britney Weidert

Matt Weidert

Dry Tortugas National Park, located approximately 70 miles west of Key West, Florida, is a remote and stunning national park known for its crystal-clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and rich history. This unique destination offers a mix of natural beauty and historical significance, making it a must-visit for boaters, divers, and history enthusiasts alike.

Where is Dry Tortugas National Park located?

Dry Tortugas National Park is situated in the Gulf of Mexico and consists of seven small islands. The park is most famous for Garden Key, home to the historic Fort Jefferson, as well as its pristine marine environment. Due to its remote location, the park is accessible only by boat or seaplane, offering bareboat charter crews an unforgettable experience. Read about what it's like to sail to the Dry Tortugas in this post.
Exploring Fort Jefferson after the crowds have departed for the day

Boating and Anchoring at Dry Tortugas

For boaters, Dry Tortugas National Park offers several anchoring options, each providing unique experiences and views of the park's natural and historical attractions.
  • Main Anchorage at Garden Key: The primary anchorage for visitors is at Garden Key, where Fort Jefferson is located. The anchorage provides a stunning backdrop of the historic fort and easy access to explore its grounds and the surrounding waters during the day. The holding ground is generally good, with sandy patches, but it's crucial to ensure your anchor is well set due to occasional strong currents.
  • Bird Key Harbor: For a quieter overnight experience, Bird Key Harbor offers a more secluded anchorage near Fort Jefferson. This spot is ideal for those looking to escape the more crowded areas and enjoy a peaceful evening surrounded by nature. The harbor provides good protection from prevailing winds and a serene setting for a restful night.
  • Visiting Loggerhead Key: While overnight anchoring is not permitted at Loggerhead Key, it is a fantastic daytime destination. Loggerhead Key features the Loggerhead Lighthouse, beautiful sandy beaches, and excellent snorkeling opportunities. The vibrant coral reefs around the key are home to a diverse array of marine life, making it a perfect spot for underwater exploration.
Garden Key and Fort Jefferson at the Dry Tortugas National Park

Exploring Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park offers a variety of activities that cater to different interests. Here are some highlights:
  • Fort Jefferson: Garden Key is home to Fort Jefferson, a massive coastal fortress built in the 19th century. Visitors can take guided tours to learn about the fort's history, its role during the Civil War, and its significance in maritime defense. The fort's strategic location and impressive architecture make it a fascinating site to explore.
  • Snorkeling and Diving: The clear waters around Dry Tortugas are perfect for snorkeling and diving. The park's coral reefs are teeming with marine life, including colorful fish, sea turtles, and vibrant coral formations. The shallow waters around Garden Key and Loggerhead Key are particularly popular for snorkeling. For more details on snorkeling sites, you can read about Sailing to Dry Tortugas.
  • Bird Watching: Dry Tortugas is a renowned bird-watching destination, especially during the spring migration. Birders can spot a variety of species, including sooty terns, brown noddies, and magnificent frigatebirds. The park's isolated location makes it a crucial stopover for migratory birds.
  • Kayaking and Paddleboarding: Exploring the park by kayak or paddleboard offers a unique perspective of the islands and their surrounding waters. Paddling around the keys allows visitors to discover hidden coves, pristine beaches, and secluded spots that are inaccessible by larger vessels.
Exploring inside the fort


Dry Tortugas National Park is a remote paradise that combines natural beauty, rich history, and a plethora of activities. From exploring the historic Fort Jefferson to snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, the park offers something for every visitor. Whether you choose to anchor at Garden Key or Bird Key Harbor, your time at Dry Tortugas will be filled with unforgettable experiences.
  • Main Anchorage at Garden Key: Anchor near Fort Jefferson and explore the historic fort.
  • Bird Key Harbor: Enjoy a quieter, more secluded anchorage near Fort Jefferson.
  • Visiting Loggerhead Key: Experience excellent snorkeling and visit the Loggerhead Lighthouse during the day.
For boaters, divers, and nature enthusiasts, Dry Tortugas National Park is an unparalleled destination that promises adventure and tranquility in equal measure.

Florida Keys charter planning?

Consider booking with the Yacht Warriors.