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There is a walkway around the fort and a moat next to the fort walls.
Photo Credit: guyonthego

Fort Jefferson (Dry Tortugas Nat. Park)

Fort is accessible only by boat and is 70 miles from Key West.
Open year round for day use and camping, call the park to check on closures.
305-242-7700 1 day
December 2009 All year
$100+ Fort Jefferson Florida
Website Historical Forts
First review
While it was never fully completed, Fort Jefferson is still one of the largest brick forts ever built. Construction began in the 1840s and continued over the next 30 years. It was built to protect vital shipping lanes in the Gulf of Mexico. Today the fort is preserved as a historical site as part of the Dry Tortugas National Park.

The Dry Tortugas islands are located about 70 miles west of Key West, Florida. They were chosen as an ideal place to build Fort Jefferson in order to protect shipping as well as to project American power. The fort was designed to be large enough (over 400 cannons) that any adversary would think twice about attacking. Though never involved in a hostile engagement, Fort Jefferson did serve additional roles including a prisoner of war camp after the US Civil War, a naval base for fuel and supplies as well as a quarantine station. It became a monument in 1935 and a park in 1992.

While the park has other islands and additional areas for snorkeling and scuba diving, Fort Jefferson is the main attraction and makes for an excellent day trip from Key West. The fort has a large interior area as well as extensive corridors and gun mounts. Snorkeling is available around the island and the water is usually clear and warm. For those interested in camping, it is available here outside the fort’s walls and the stargazing at night can be impressive.

Traveling to Fort Jefferson takes about 2 hours by boat from Key West. For more information about transportation and cost, call Yankee Freedom II at 800-634-0939 or 305-294-7009, or check out their website at
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