We did it! We completed our goal of traveling to 58 of the 59 designated National Parks (sorry American Samoa). Dry Tortugas, a small island park 70 miles southwest of Key West, in our home state of Florida was set aside as our final park. This paradisiacal park consists of largely of ocean, coral reefs and seven tiny island. Garden Key, the largest island, is the most popular and easy to visit. It is home to historic Fort Jefferson, used in 1800s to protect the Gulf trade route and home to slaves and prisoners in the Civil War.
Boat or sea plane are only transportation Fort Jefferson and Garden Key. Andrew and I opted to camp on the island for two nights, which left us with the ferry as our only travel option (sea planes can’t transport camping equipment). If looking for a little serenity, camping is highly recommended. During the day, 175 people disembark from the ferry and smaller groups come by plane. However, after 3 o’clock the boat sails into the horizon, leaving only a few dozen campers behind.
While Garden Key doesn’t have much for amenities, it offers a peaceful paradise with a small beach for snorkeling, historic architecture to explore, beautiful ocean vistas to reflect upon, and marine wildlife to watch…not to mention an occasional visit from the salt water crocodile who likes to sunbath in this idyllic spot!