The National Park Service is promoting Dry Tortugas National Park as part of its ongoing efforts to encourage getaways to any one of the U.S.'s 20,000 national parks. This week, the National Park Getaway series focuses on the westernmost reach of the Florida Keys to visit a remote cluster of islands accessible only by charter, boat or float plane, NPS says.
Dry Tortugas National Park is known for coral reefs, sandy beaches, near-pristine sea grass beds that nurture diverse wildlife populations and historic Fort Jefferson, NPS says.
Tortugas’ maritime and military significance was first noted in the early 1600s, when Ponce de Leon explored the New World. The islands that border the main shipping channel between the Gulf of Mexico, the western Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean have been mapped on nautical charts ever since, the NPS says.
Fort Jefferson, on Garden Key, is the largest all-masonry fort in the United States. Originally built to protect shipping access to the gulf, the fort was used as a military prison during the Civil War, the NPS reports.
Vacationers are urged to visit www.nps.gov/getaways for the weekly updates.