Exploring the Dry Tortugas National Park

Exploring the Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park

If you're in Key West and love nature and history, embark on an adventure unlike anything you've ever experienced before. Set your destination for the Dry Tortugas, one of the world's most extraordinary eco-treasures. The Dry Tortugas National Park is a secluded cluster of tiny islands located 70 miles west of Key West in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico.

As you approach the Dry Tortugas, the imposing sight of the massive Fort Jefferson rising out of the turquoise waters will simply awe you. Standing as it has for more than 200 years, the ancient fort is just one of the many wonders you'll encounter on your adventure here.

Head for a look inside the largest masonry structure in the Americas. As you walk through the hallways of this coastal fortress, you'll see the cells that once held prisoners of war. You can even step inside the cell of Samuel Mudd, the fort's most famous prisoner. The knowledgeable guides will give you an amazing history lesson, sharing the facts about the soldiers, their families and the others who lived and worked here, which at one point numbered in the thousands. See the cannons and discover why even after 16 million bricks were laid to build it, Fort Jefferson is still considered to be unfinished.

After your history lesson, step onto the white sandy beach and begin a day of amazing sights and discoveries; this place is like nowhere else on earth. If you love to snorkel or if you've been wanting to try it, you're in luck. The warm shallow waters here are teeming with magnificent tropical fish and a variety of living coral, sea turtles and other vibrant marine species. It's the ideal setting for experts and novices as you can simply walk right into the water and begin to explore.

While taking a break from snorkeling, sink your toes into the soft sand on the pristine beaches, hunt for seashells, lounge in the shade under a palm tree or bathe in the sun. You could spend hours just soaking in the beautiful scenery.

Keep your eyes to the skies since the Dry Tortugas are known as one of the top places for bird watching. The area is home to nearly 300 different bird species, including the Sooty Tern that nests on Bush Key, which is adjacent to Fort Jefferson. Your trip to this natural oasis will be one you never forget.

To get to the Dry Tortugas, book your seat aboard the Yankee Freedom III, the official Key West ferry of the Dry Tortugas National Park. The Yankee Freedom III transports thousands of guests each year for the eco-experience of a lifetime. The spacious catamaran has an indoor, air-conditioned cabin, fresh water showers and plenty of deck space for enjoying the scenic views as you travel across the crystal waters from Key West. The trip includes a complimentary breakfast and lunch, cold beverages, top-of-the-line snorkeling gear and a wealth of information about the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson. 

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