Visiting Garden Key
Garden Key is home to our park headquarters, visitor center, campgrounds and great swimming and snorkeling areas.
Garden Key is the second largest island in the Dry Tortugas, about 14 acres in size, and has had the most human impact. Located on Garden Key is historic Fort Jefferson, one of the nation’s largest 19th century forts and a central cultural feature of Dry Tortugas National Park. To learn more about the history of Fort Jefferson click here.
Arriving at Garden Key
The only way to visit Garden Key and all other areas of Dry Tortugas National Park is by boat or seaplane. Ferry and seaplane passengers travel directly from Key West to Garden Key. Entrance fees are included in ticket price. Those passengers traveling here by personal vessel must stop by Garden Key to pay the entrance fee and file a free boat permit.
Due to damage from Hurricane Ian, space for personal vessels is extremely limited. The finger piers and slips and the dinghy beach between the finger piers and the South Coaling Dock on Garden Key are closed, and there is limited space for personal vessels between the pier and seaplane beach.
Due to damage from Hurricane Ian, space for personal vessels is extremely limited. The finger piers and slips and the dinghy beach between the finger piers and the South Coaling Dock on Garden Key are closed, as well as the South Coaling Dock ruins propoer. There is limited space for personal vessels east of the Yankee Freedom III pier to the seaplane beach.
Things to Do at Garden Key
Explore Fort Jefferson
Located on Garden Key is historic Fort Jefferson, one of the nation’s largest 19th century forts in the United States.
Snorkeling and Swimming
Enjoy Garden Key's many coral reefs and wildlife by taking a swim around the island
Bring Your Own Boat
Bring your boat to Dry Tortugas National Park.
Plan your camping trip to Garden Key
Enjoy fishing for sport or food and be sure to bring your saltwater fishing license and follow Gulf of Mexico fishing regulations.
Explore Dry Tortugas with a Kayak / Paddleboard
From birds, to sea turtles and coral reefs, the park is paradise for wildlife viewing.
Night Sky Viewing
Camping on Garden Key is an excellent way to take advantage of all that the night skies in the Dry Tortugas have to offer.
Last updated: October 15, 2022