Key West Park and Beach Information
Ponce de Leon discovered the Dry Tortugas in 1513 when he caught over 100 sea turtles there. Subsequently the islands were referred to as the "Tortugas" (turtles). During the 1600s and 1700s the area around these islands was used by pirates as a base for attacking merchant shipping in the Gulf.
After the War of 1812 a group of forts from Maine to Texas was envisioned to provide defense for the United States of America. Fort Jefferson was built to protect the southern coastline of the United States and the lifeline of commerce to and from the Mississippi River. The fort was planned to be the greatest of these.
During and after the Civil War the fort began to be used as a prison for deserters and other criminals, most notably Dr. Samuel Mudd, who was sentenced to life in prison for his part in President Lincoln's assassination.
In 1908 the area was designated as a bird reserve and transferred to the Department of Agriculture.
- The Dry Tortugas feature camping, fishing, birdwatching, snorkeling and swimming
- Daily Tours are given of the Fort
- The Dry Tortugas are located three hours from Key West. Ferry service is provided by Yankee Freedom III - Dry Tortugas National Park Ferry.
- The island can also be reached by seaplane, Key West Seaplane Adventures
Fort Zachary Taylor
The park covering a total of 87 acres is a National Landmark that played a significant role in the early history of Florida. The fort, built in 1845, served as an important Union outpost in the Civil War. The Fort was again used during The Spanish American War.
- The west side of the park is ideal for fishing
- Shaded picnic areas are available as well as tables, BBQ's, outdoor showers and restroom facilities
- Guided tours of the fort are available daily
Entrance through Truman Annex at Southard Street entrance.
The area around Bahia Honda is one of the deepest channels in The Florida Keys. Bahia Honda is unique among other Keys because it has long sandy beaches and deep waters that offer excellent swimming and snorkeling. The park was originally part of Henry Flagler's railroad holding. Part of the railroad bridge still remains.
- Snorkeling, swimming, fishing, camping, boat ramps
- Sand and Sea Nature Center
- Nature trails, rare animal and plant life
Located at Mile Marker 36, Big Pine Key, Florida. (45 minutes from Key West).