Dry Tortugas National Park

We’re debating on whether or not to include a visit to Dry Tortugas on our Florida trip which comes up in another week. If we visit the park, we’ll be taking along our kayak. The information I’ve read about the area describes Fort Jefferson and the spectacular snorkeling, but nothing about the kayaking opportunities in the area. It’s unclear to me if much of the Dry Tortugas park is closed off to even kayakers because of protection of nesting birds, sea turtles, and other wildlife.

Also, because camping on Dry Tortugas is so limited, are chances fairly slim we’ll even get a site the first two weeks of March?

Contact a ranger there
When I need that kind of up-to-date info, I get a park phone number off the National Parks website and ask to speak to a ranger at the park in question. It’s the best way to get current info about regulations, crowds, interesting natural events that will occur during your visit, and any unusual questions you may have. Kayaking restrictions would fall into that last category.

Start here:


BTW, info for all the national parks follows this format, wherein the last 4 characters before the final slash stand for the first two letters of the first two names of the park. Big Bend is bibe, for example.

Have fun, and please post a trip story and/or photos after you go. And read the Nevada Barr mystery set in Dry Tortugas, too!

thanks for the advice!
I’ll check out your suggestion about contacting NPS directly. My hunch is this isolated park does not have a direct phone, since it’s 70 miles out in the gulf, and would probably talk with someone on mainland Florida. I could be wrong about that.

If we decide to include Dry Tortugas on our trip itinerary, you can bet I’ll write a trip report for this website!

Thanks for the info about the book, too.

DRTO paddling

Bringing a kayak is a great idea!

Kayaking is allowed but you need to stay 100ft off of the keys with nesting birds.

The sooty terns and brown knotties, and friggit birds are all nesting right now.

It’s are good idea to bring a dive flag so that you can snorkel off your kayak out of the swimming area.

Loggerhead Key is a 3 mile paddle from Ft. Jefferson and very do able with perfect weather.

The biggest thing about paddling the Tortugas is to keep an eye on the weather map (posted in the dock house) and don’t forget how remote you are.

Good Luck,


Marine preserve
The whole area around DT was declareed a marine preserve about 10 years ago. There are restrictions about anchoring and taking fish and lobster, so be sure to ask a ranger. As mentioned by previous poster, you cannot land on rookery islands.

The paddling and snorkeilng are extraoridnary. You WILL be diving with baracuda, so just expect that.

Dry Tortugas Info
Info on boating, etc:


National Park page: