Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park is unparalleled in its combination of an undisturbed tropical ecosystem and its historic sites. The first national park was established by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872 and the National Park Service was founded in 1909. There are 59 National Parks in the United States, attracting a combined 331 million people every year. Congress designated Dry Tortugas a National Park in 1992. Since 1992, thousands of visitors travel annually to the remote destination of Dry Tortugas National Park. The park’s unique attractions and wildlife makes it a great family getaway.
My Winter Vacation to Dry Tortugas
I went to Dry Tortugas National Park over winter break with my family. We flew to Key West, Florida and took a boat from there to Dry Tortugas. Dry Tortugas is comprised of multiple islands off the southwest coast of Florida. Juan Ponce de Leon discovered Dry Tortugas in 1513, and named the cluster of pristine keys “Las Tortugas” because of all the sea turtles. Later, the area was referred to as the “Dry Tortugas” because of the lack of freshwater on the islands. The National Park earned its place in United States history when the Navy built Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortugas in 1846. The Fort served as a prison for Confederate soldiers and Union deserters in the Civil War, and is known for its infamous residents, such as Dr. Samuel Mudd, who treated John Wilkes Booth. My family and I spent an afternoon touring the Fort and its famous prison. Dry Tortugas was designated a National Park by act of Congress in October 1992, and has attracted 80,000 visitors each year since that time.
Dry Tortugas Wildlife and Ecosystem
Animal lovers and park enthusiasts from all over the country flock to Dry Tortugas to get a taste for its spectacular ecosystem and amazing animals. There are hundreds of interesting animal species, including all types of air, land, and sea species. Coral reefs surround the island, creating a perfect home for colorful reef fish, sea turtles, and stingrays. You will also catch sight of all kind of birds, including the Magnificent Frigate and the Masked Booby. You may also see over 100,000 Sooty Terns who gather annually for their nesting season on Bush Key, an island in the park. Watching and interacting with the wildlife on Dry Tortugas was part of our vacation. We spent a day snorkeling with the sea turtles on Loggerhead Key and enjoyed many evenings sitting on the beach watching the birds fly over the park’s coral reef.
The Park’s Main Attractions
Dry Tortugas has many attractions for history lovers and nature lovers alike. Fort Jefferson is the largest all-masonry fortification in the western hemisphere. It was built in 1846, and served as a Civil War federal prison. Garden Key is the main island in Dry Tortugas National Park. In addition to being the home of Fort Jefferson, Garden Key includes a campground and many places for visitors to snorkel. My family took a day excursion to Garden Key and grilled lunch at the campground. Garden Key also boasts much of the parks beaches and its wide variety of birds. Little Africa, a reef in Dry Tortugas, and Loggerhead Key, an island in the park, are known for diving and snorkeling.
My family’s trip to Dry Tortugas National Park was a memorable experience in light of the park’s unique attractions such as Fort Jefferson and its diverse wildlife. Designated a National Park in 1992, Dry Tortugas attracts thousands of visitors who journey to these islands off the coast of Key West, Florida each year. Once in Dry Tortugas, tourists can experience the park’s amazing wildlife, extraordinary attractions, and great views of coral reefs and sea life. Dry Tortugas and this country’s other 58 National Parks are national treasures that should be respected and maintained.