Are you looking for a memorable camping experience? Do you enjoy relaxing sunsets and breathtaking nighttime skies? Camping in Dry Tortugas National Park offers that and more. Keep in mind that space and services are limited. All overnight camping must take place within the Garden Key campground which is located just south of Fort Jefferson. The eight regular campsites are available on a first-come first-served basis. Should a regular campsite not be available, an overflow area is available.
Planning Your Visit
This is a primitive camping experience. Campers must provide for all of their basic needs, including food, water, shelter, medication, and other essentials. Composting toilets are available. All trash and garbage must be packed out. There is no store or running water.
When You Arrive
Look for a table with a stenciled number. Only those tables with numbers are assigned to campsites. Should you find all eight regular sites occupied, you must share the overflow area with other campers. The overflow area is grassy area located near the regular campsites. Tables and grills are provided, but they must be shared with other overflow campers. As campers leave, you may move to a regular site if one becomes available.
The group site is indicated by a sign. The site contains two grills and two picnic tables, and is large enough for 12-15 tents.
Group Campsite For Overflow
During periods of heavy use, the group campsite may be used for overflow camping, but only on unreserved nights. Any unreserved group choosing to camp in the group site must move out of the group site by 10 a.m. any day the group site is reserved. Reservations are posted on the board located in the group campsite.
The Garden Key campground is a self-service fee area with a nightly fee of $15 per campsite. A 50% discount applies to holders of the Interagency Senior or Access Passes. No other discounts apply. Please bring the correct amount in cash.
On the day of arrival, campers must obtain a payment envelope at the self-service fee station. Fill out the envelope, deposit it in the slot in the iron post, and keep the stub at your campsite for ranger inspection.
Note that fees paid for transportation (commercial ferry or seaplane) include the park entry fee but do not include camping fees.
Important Tips and Regulations
Space is Limited
Each of the regular campsites contains a table, post for hanging food, and a BBQ grill. Three tents and six campers are the maximum allowed per campsite. All equipment must remain within ten feet of your table.
Protect Park Vegetation
Trees and shrubs are crucial to provide some shade and wind break. Help protect this valuable vegetation. Do not attach anything to campground trees (but clothes line may be strong between posts). All camping gear must be free standing. Respect closed areas of the park.
No Wood Fires
Charcoal briquettes placed in campsite BBQ grills are only fires allowed. Gas camping stoves are permitted by the park, but commercial ferries do not permit them on board.
Composting toilets are located in the campground. Waste is composted in the equipment below the units. These systems are very fragile and are designed only for the disposal of human waste and toilet paper. Please do no put trash, food scraps, or other items in these toilets. Please lower toilet lids when not use in use reduce odor and aid in the composting process.
The composting toilets are closed from approximately 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. During these hours, please use the facilities aboard the commercial ferry boats at the dock.
Grey water from dishwashing, etc. should go below the high tide line at the dinghy beach.
Protect Your Food
Rats have inhabited the Tortugas probably since the arrival humans. Though the size of the rat population is controlled, rats may be encountered as they forage through campsites looking for food. The only reliable way to protect your food and prevent damage to your gear is to store your food and food trash in hard-sided containers. Rats will chew through tents or backpacks if they smell food, and can also climb the provided handing posts.
Kayaks and Other Watercraft
You may keep boats in your site or on the shore near the designated dinghy beach. Boats of all kinds are prohibited in the swim area. Boats may only be launched from and landed on the designated dinghy beach, which is located near the government docks. Remember to wear a life jacket at all times while boating.
Please be considerate of other and observe quiet hours from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. The use of bright lanterns is also discourage during these hours.
Access to Fort Jefferson
One of the great pleasures of any visit to the park is the opportunity to explore Fort Jefferson. Be careful inside the fort. Many areas have uneven walking surfaces. The fort is open sunrise to sunset, or to contact a ranger in an after-hours emergency. The moat wall, beaches, and other exterior public area remain open after dark.
On the day of departure, completely clear your campsite, place all camping gear on the main dock, and return all hand carts to the dock by 10 a.m. Once the ferry boats offload arriving passengers and equipment, see the captain for instructions on loading your gear. You may keep any items you need for the day in the day use area.