Dry Tortugas NP (FL)


May 16, 2016
Warning: way too many photos, I just dumped the whole blog post here out of laziness :)

Dry Tortugas National Park
July 5 - 8, 2020 (3 nights)

The whole reason for going to Florida at the height of Summer was three nights camping in the Dry Tortugas. The ferry to get to the island only take 10 campers a day. We have three kids and so do our friends, so we needed a day when no other campers had reservations. We also wanted to go for three nights (the max if you take the ferry). Even though my wife was doing this last November, the earliest we could go was the beginning of July. Oh well, it would have been just as hot in June and COVID would have blown up the whole thing anyway.

We had spent a couple days at a resort type place in between Marathon and Islamorada and then drove to Key West the night before the ferry ride to the Dry Tortugas.

After a very early morning (we had to be at the boat at 6 am to load all the gear) and a 2ish hour ferry ride, we got to Garden Key and unloaded all our camping gear and two sit on top kayaks. As we were still setting up, I looked towards the east and saw a water spout.

I quickly walked to where I could get a better photo, but it was already breaking up.

We finished setting up and swam in the ocean, had dinner and waited for sunset. Garden Key is the site of Fort Jefferson. I went up to the top of the wall for sunset and was hoping for a good full moon rise photo as well.

The camp area is to the left. There was a large group near by and a couple small groups, but it was very quiet.

This is where the moon should have been appearing, but the clouds were too thick on the horizon.

Lighthouse on Loggerhead Key (about 3 miles away)

I woke up before sunrise and grabbed my camera to go exploring

Fort Jefferson and its moat

Part of the island (Bush Key) is closed for nesting birds, they were very loud

The full moon that I missed the night before

The next day, my youngest and I went exploring inside the fort.

Neat flower on the banana tree

Inside the walls

Shot Furnace and Wikipedia link about Heated Shot

My wife and middle kid having fun with the kayak

The whole camp area (actually the whole island) was crawling with hermit crabs. I spent a bit of time with my camera. They move really fast and it was hard to get a good photo with a shallow depth of field. I might have got carried away with the number of photos, but all the different shells and sizes were very interesting and it was too hot to do anything else :)

Old machinery on the North Beach

Another boring FL sunset

Our last morning was mostly packing up since everything had to be on the dock before the ferry arrived. We were moving slow in the heat when a neighboring camper mentioned that one of the turtle nests on the beach was hatching. Evidently he had seen about 30 hatchlings. We got there in time to see one turtle moving down the beach and then about 30 minutes later someone else said there were a couple more so we hurried back and saw two more just coming out of the nest. From the park website, I'm pretty sure they were Green Turtles.

Made it to the water

I took a couple short videos but they are hosted on my blog so I can't imbed them here. You can see them at https://backpackandbeer.blogspot.com/2020/09/dry-tortugas-fl-2020-part-2.html down at the bottom of the page.

A little more wandering before getting on the boat.

Not photographed: lots of swim time, lots of happy hour time, reading in the shade, some snorkling (I saw a 6ish foot nurse shark about 10 feet below me), some fishing, kids playing hide and seek in the fort, rounds of Mafia/Werewolf before bedtime, stars and the moon. All in all an awesome three nights, hope to make it back someday.

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Wilderness Wanderer
Sep 23, 2016
Gosh, Thanks for posting this on the Dry Tortugas. This and the nearby Florida Keys is really one spot I really want to get to in me of these days. One of the reasons is that I am a birder bigtime. This has been on my bucket list for quite awhile. Again Thanks for posting and Loved the photos and the trip report. Wishing You The Best!


Colorado Plateau is calling...
Feb 3, 2017
I've wanted to go there for several years, but living in Washington state, it's quite a trek to get there!
Thanks for the TR, inspiration, and the beta about the camper ferry.

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