The Ws Gulf Coast Adventure travel blog

Fort Jefferson


View of Yankee Freedom from the fort


Pinky got in on the snorkeling action


Lots of laughs on the way in

(Cats are everywhere in Key West (notice he is also watching the...

Crowds gather for the sunset celebration

Mallory Square Sunset


Ahhhhhh! Key West...

Tuesday we went to Dry Tortugas National Park. The park is about 70 miles offshore from Key West and you can only get there by boat or seaplane. We took the Yankee Freedom ferry, which we boarded at 7am in Key West. The boat is a full service ferry and they served breakfast as we enjoyed a 2 1/2 hour ride out to the park. The park is made up of seven small islands and inhabited by one. The main attraction is on Garden Key, the only island open to the public. Fort Jefferson, which was started in 1846 and went on for 30 years. It is the largest fort ever built in the United States, boasted 420 cannon with a three mile range. It was never completed, and a shot was never fired in hostility, but the fort was used as a Union Military prison during the civil war. The fort was abandoned by the army in 1874, became a wildlife refuge in 1908, and finally part of Dry Tortugas National Park in 1992. The islands are home to an over 200 species birds. We saw frigate birds, terns, and boobies, a host of others. We also got to go snorkeling and saw lots of marine life. The reefs along the fort walls and ruined pilings are healthy and vibrant in color - full of fish, coral, and plants. The water surrounding the fort is beautiful and very inviting! The Yankee Freedom also served us a nice lunch on the boat, as food and drink are not allowed on the island. EVERYTHING that goes in has to come out and they are very serious. Even plastic water bottles (the disposal type) are not allowed off the boat. We spent about 4 1/2 hours out there, and then they opened up the bar and we enjoyed some margaritas on the 2 1/2 hour ride back to Key West. Both going out and coming in we saw flying fish, and sea turtles. It was a great experience, topped off by the daily Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square in Key West.

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