Construction of Fort Jefferson was begun in 1846 but never completed. President Franklin Roosevelt declared it and the waters surrounding it a National Monument in 1935.
Flora and fauna
The Dry Tortugas exist in a subtropical climate. Temperatures range from the mid-50s to mid-80s (°F). April and May are often idyllic. There are essentially two seasons: The winter season (December-March), which can be windy with rough seas, and the tropical storm season (June-November) during which Dry Tortugas experiences both hot, humid weather and calm seas or severe weather events. Due to the ever-changing weather patterns, an accurate weather forecast is recommended before your visit.
The park is open year round during daylight hours, and is only accessible by boat or seaplane.
- Key West Seaplane Service.
- Yankee Freedom III (ferry), toll-free: . Day trips include two meals, complimentary snorkeling equipment, and 45-minute tour of the historic fort. Boarding is at the Ferry Terminal at the foot of Grinnell Street in Key West, FL. Reservations recommended. $180 adults, $125 (children (age 4-16); prices include park fee.
Fees and permits
A seven-day pass is $5 for adults.
There are several passes for groups traveling together in a private vehicle or individuals on foot or on bike. These passes provide free entry at national parks and national wildlife refuges, and also cover standard amenity fees at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation. These passes are valid at all national parks including Dry Tortugas National Park:
- The $80 Annual Pass (valid for twelve months from date of issue) can be purchased by anyone. Military personnel can obtain a free annual pass in person at a federal recreation site by showing a Common Access Card (CAC) or Military ID.
- U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or over can obtain a Senior Pass (valid for the life of the holder) in person at a federal recreation site for $80, or through the mail for $90; applicants must provide documentation of citizenship and age. This pass also provides a fifty percent discount on some park amenities. Seniors can also obtain a $20 annual pass.
- U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities can obtain an Access Pass (valid for the life of the holder) in person at a federal recreation site at no charge, or through the mail for $10; applicants must provide documentation of citizenship and permanent disability. This pass also provides a fifty percent discount on some park amenities.
- Individuals who have volunteered 250 or more hours with federal agencies that participate in the Interagency Pass Program can receive a free Volunteer Pass.
- 4th graders can receive an Annual 4th Grade Pass that allows free entry for the duration of the 4th grade school year (September-August) to the bearer and any accompanying passengers in a private non-commercial vehicle. Registration at the Every Kid Outdoors website is required.
The National Park Service offers free admission to all national parks on five days every year:
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day (third Monday in January); next observance is January 18, 2021
- The first day of National Park Week (third Saturday in April); next observance is April 18, 2020
- The National Park Service Birthday (August 25)
- National Public Lands Day (fourth Saturday in September); next observance is September 26, 2020
- Veterans Day (November 11)
This is a cluster of 7 small islands not connected by causeway to the rest of the Florida Keys. As such the only way to reach them (and travel between them) is by boat or seaplane.
The largest of the islands, Garden Key, hosts Fort Jefferson. Walking tours are provided and snorkeling is a must. All traffic is on foot.
- 1 Fort Jefferson.
- Guided fishing trips.
- Guided wildlife viewing trips.
- Sailing charters.
and you can go diving there.
- Gift Shop. A small National Park Service Gift Shop is available inside Fort Jefferson on Garden Key. It offers a very limited selection of items.
There's a small campground on the island, with overflow space when the official campsites are full. The cost is $15 per campsite per night. Primitive camping only - you must bring all your own drinking water. Camping is not allowed outside the official campground. Campground info sheet (PDF)
The invasive lionfish has been spotted around Fort Jefferson. They can be identified by their red and cream colour and long spines. Stings are excruciatingly painful and can be fatal. Any sighting of the fish should be reported to National Park Staff immediately.