Travel Destination: Dry Tortugas National Park

In 2012 we flew to Florida and drove down the Florida Keys to Key West. When planing our trip I discovered the Dry Tortugas, located about 70 miles from Key West, and decided to include that in our plans.  The Dry Tortugas is considered an underwater national park, and is 100 square miles in size.  The park includes seven tiny islands.

I started on this post several days ago, but decided to tie it into Tina’s Lens-Artists Challenge #85: Treasure Hunt.  The fort, located in the national park, is certainly an unusual place, treasured by all who visit, explore and learn it’s history.

The area and history is quite fascinating.  Discovered in 1513 by Ponce de Leon, it was named the Dry Tortugas.  “Tortugas” means turtles in Spanish.  There were many turtles in the area.  Ponce de Leon caught over 100 turtles himself while on the island.  The island was called “dry” because there is no fresh water on the island.

According to

The area is known for its treacherous reefs, and in 1825 a lighthouse was built on Garden Key to warn ships and guide them toward safety. At the time shipwrecks were common, and with underwater wrecks dating back to the 1600s, the Dry Tortugas currently possess one of the richest concentrations of shipwrecks in North America. It is also because of these large reefs surrounding the Tortugas that the U.S. was able to establish one of the most strategic harbors in U.S. history, and Fort Jefferson was born. Construction of the fort began in 1846, and although it was never officially finished, it remains a historic icon of the Dry Tortugas and receives thousands of visitors yearly.

The day we went it was overcast, and that was a good thing.  We went in May, and it was hotter than normal.  We were told people were getting sick the day before because it was so hot with the sun out.  The tour was fascinating, and we learned that the fort was built to help protect ships that were bringing in supplies to the US.  It is amazing what has been built in past centuries without today’s common technology.  According to the website, at one point nearly 2000 people lived on this small island.

You can camp here, you can snorkel, and enjoy the beaches.  I did snorkel after our tour, but it was raining on me, and although I saw a few fish, it was dark and cloudy.

16 million bricks were used to build this fort, and although most of the heavy guns were removed for scrap, there remains some of the heaviest original guns on the walls of the fort.  We loved hearing the stories and history of Fort Jefferson.



Florida Trip May 2012 657


Florida Trip May 2012 659


Florida Trip May 2012 687 (2)


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You can get to the island by plane or by boat.  Although we took the boat, we discovered this plane (a treasure hunt item), originating from Ketchikan, Alaska.  I lived in Ketchikan for about six years (many years ago)!

Florida Trip May 2012 665 (2)

Florida Trip May 2012 665 (2)

Another interesting fact is that the Dry Tortugas is an excellent area for birding.  In fact, while we were there, part of the beach was roped off so no one would disturb the birds nesting there. Unfortunately I did not capture a very good photo of this.

The park link shares beautiful photos and fascinating facts about the park.  If you ever have an opportunity to go experience the park, it would be well worth the time and effort.  Although the weather (and my photography skills) weren’t ideal, I have some wonderful memories of this day.


Posted for Lens-Artists Challenge #85-Treasure Hunt







21 Comments Add yours

  1. Alice Boor says:

    Wow, very interesting! I’d love to see that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I wish I had better photos, but it was a very fun experience. Something different.


  2. Tina Schell says:

    Well that worked out perfectly! You had several of the hunt items in your post as well as some very interesting info. Myst admit I’d not heard of it before Lisa

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Tina! It was very fascinating. And in the sun it would have been unbelievably beautiful. Quite an amazing discovery 🙂


  3. I wonder what it looks like in the reefs? I’ll have to google that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Check out the website. It is so beautiful in the sun! And the water is amazing! I would like to go back someday…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I definitely will!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Naomi says:

    The history of the area is pretty interesting. Snorkeling sounds like a beautiful experience. And it was quite a surprise to see the plane from Promech Air!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! …and yes it was a surprise!


  5. Interesting , missed this one on trips to the Keys

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, it was very much worth the visit.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Leya says:

    Looks interesting, Lisa! And treasures you found for the challenge as well. Well done. I would also like to see the reefs – Google is my friend too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! There are so many amazing places out there to see!


  7. Amy says:

    Great treasure hunt, Lisa! Beautiful photos! Will google it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It was amazing, and I know I still missed a lot. If you look at the website my photos pale, big time!


  8. restlessjo says:

    Fascinating place! 🙂 🙂 Saw you in the comments at Alice’s place and was drawn in by the name.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was very fascinating! I would love to go back, but in the winter when it’s not so hot. Very interesting history there. Thanks for reading my post! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Geri says:

    I love to go through old forts and found your post extremely interesting. I have not made it to Key West yet, but when I do I will definitely add the park to the plans. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading my post! It was very fascinating, and I’d love to go back during the winter 🙂 I hope you get to go and see it someday!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Geri says:

        Me, too.

        Liked by 1 person

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