Dry Tortugas National Park
November 22, 2013
Another post about Florida, yes, but Dry Tortugas National Park is too cool not to separate into its own post. About 70 miles from Key West lies a small bunch of islands in the Gulf of Mexico called the Dry Tortugas (first named “Tortugas” by Ponce de Leon to let future travelers know that there was an abundance of sea turtles in the area, which was an important source of fresh meat for sailors; and later “Dry” was added to warn sailors that there was no fresh water on the islands). The main and most accessible attraction of the Dry Tortugas is Fort Jefferson on the largest island Garden Key. Fort Jefferson is the largest masonry structure in the U.S., but is actually unfinished. Started in the 1820s, the fort never saw combat and for nearly 200 years it has weathered storms and the sea, and is now a major tourist attraction. Snorkeling and swimming the lovely Gulf waters and camping are also popular activities on Garden Key. Fort Jefferson and Garden Key are accessible by ferry or sea plane, but in order to see the rest of the islands, private transport is required.