Vagabond in America 2016 travel blog

Approaching the Island

Entrance to Fort Jefferson

The Moat

The Ferry

The Beach

The Residents

The only other way to get to the island


Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the only National Parks that can't be reach by car. There are only two ways to get there: boat or seaplane. I booked a trip on the once-per-day ferry.

Dry Tortugas Key is the westernmost of the Keys. The word "Dry" was used because there was no water found on the Key. It was named "Tortugas" because Ponce de Leon caught over 100 sea turtles there in 1513. The word "key" comes from the Spanish word "cayĆ³", meaning "small island".

The island is still dry. There's no water available anywhere on the island. In fact there are no tourist facilities at all. There's no food available or toilets. Fortunately, the ferry had all these facilities, including a breakfast and a lunch buffet. The ferry stayed docked and available on the island the entire day.

The main feature of the National Park is Fort Jefferson. It was built after the War of 1812 and was in use for more than a century. The fort had a peak military population of 1,729.

The only other tourist site on the island is the remains of the coal transfer station that was used to fuel steam-powered ships.

I spent the day relaxing and appreciating the solitude. Several people enjoyed the sandy beach. A few were spending the night at a small tent camping area on the island.

The only permanent residents on the island are a great many sea birds.

I've now traveled as far south and as far west as I can on the Keys. Time to turn around and (very slowly) head back north.



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