Enter Dry Tortugas National Park, one of just three designated national parks in Florida — and one of the most remote in the entire U.S. National Park System.Wide-open spaces are the name of the game in today’s pandemic-ravaged tourism landscape, which is why travelers all over the U.S. are flocking to national parks. But a national park that’s 99% underwater, located 70 miles from civilization, and accessible only by seaplane or boat? That’s next-level traveling, perfectly suited to the times.
Planning a Trip to Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park comprises a cluster of seven small islands, but most of the 100-square-mile park is water — mesmerizingly blue, crystal-clear water worthy of the wildest tropical dreams. It’s perfect for both swimming and sightseeing, two of the main draws of the Dry Tortugas.
Beyond the breathtaking water, the beauty of Dry Tortugas National Park can be found in its unique natural features (think: coral reefs, sandy shoals, sea life, and lots of birds).
Another main attraction here is historic Fort Jefferson, located on 14-acre Garden Key, the second-largest island in the Dry Tortugas.
Since its original construction in the 1800s as a masonry fort — one of the nation’s largest — Fort Jefferson has lived many lives: It has served as a coaling station for warships, a safe harbor for ships patrolling the Gulf of Mexico and the Straits of Florida to resupply and refit, and even a Civil War prison for Union deserters. Still, Fort Jefferson was never attacked, successfully fulfilling its role as an intimidating warning to enemy forces. Today, it’s a preserved piece of history where visitors can explore and learn.
The park is not accessible by car, and there are no facilities for fuel, water, charcoal, or food, so it’s important to arrive prepared for the duration of your stay. (This is why a day trip is the most popular way to experience the Dry Tortugas.) There are also no supplies available in the park, and the only restrooms are aboard the Yankee Freedom ferry (and thus only available during the hours when it’s docked). For overnight campers, composting toilets are available from 3 p.m. to 10:30 a.m. daily.
There’s also no cell coverage, internet access, or Wi-Fi in Dry Tortugas National Park, so in other words, be ready for a totally off-the-grid adventure.