Garden Key, Dry Tortugas National Park

4.8
#18 of 19 in Nature in Florida Keys
The Garden Key Light, also known as the Tortuga Harbor Light, is located at Fort Jefferson, on Garden Key in the Dry Tortugas, Florida. The first lighthouse, started in 1824 and first lit in 1826, was a brick conical tower. The lighthouse and its outbuildings were the only structures on Garden Key until construction started on Fort Jefferson in 1846. Construction continued until 1861, but the fort was never completed.In 1858 the Dry Tortugas lighthouse was built on a nearby island, and the first order Fresnel lens was moved there from the Garden Key lighthouse. The Garden Key lighthouse received a fourth order Fresnel lens, and became the harbor light for Fort Jefferson. In 1877 the brick tower was razed and replaced with a boilerplate iron tower on top of a stairwell in the fort. In 1912, the keeper's house burned down, and the lighthouse was automated with tanks of compressed acetylene replacing the butts of kerosene to fuel the lights. The light was deactivated in 1924.The USS Maine was part of the squadron stationed at Garden Key when it exploded and sank in the harbor of Havana, Cuba. James Fenimore Cooper's 1848 novel Jack Tier: or the Florida Reefs, is set at the Garden Key lighthouse. Ernest Hemingway's 1932 short story "After the Storm" is about a shipwreck between Garden Key and Rebecca Shoal, to the east of Garden Key.
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Garden Key Reviews
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21 reviews
TripAdvisor
  • January 29, 2017
    We got to Garden Key on Christmas day and spent 3 days/nights there on our catamaran. We anchored in the bay where the ferry and seaplanes come in; although, it's not the official anchorage, the range...  more »
  • July 10, 2016
    After Fort Jefferson, we snorkeled on Garden Key. It was okay, but a long boat ride for less of an adventure than snorkeling in other keys. Don't go just for this.  more »
  • July 5, 2016
    Garden Key, an island in the Dry Tortugas where Ft Jefferson is located has everything the adventuresome, eco-minded traveler is looking for. And it lacks the noise, over-crowding, and dirt of Key Wes...  more »

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Where to stay in Dry Tortugas National Park

The self-service campground in Dry Tortugas National Park is the only option for staying in the park. Ferries and seaplanes arrive at the park from Key West, where you have a wide range of choices of places to stay. The island offers luxury hotels, expansive resorts, economy motels, and locally owned inns and bed and breakfasts. You should find plenty of entertainment options here as well.
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Plans in Dry Tortugas National Park by other users

3 days in Dry Tortugas National Park BY A USER FROM PARAGUAY December, culture, relaxing, beaches, museums, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: December, culture, relaxing, beaches, museums, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 7 days in Amelia Island, Marco Island & Dry Tortugas National Park BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES December, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, shopping, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: December, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 16 days in Florida BY A USER FROM ISRAEL August, popular PREFERENCES: August ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 47 days in United States BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES October, outdoors, beaches, wildlife, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: October, outdoors, beaches, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 6 days in Dry Tortugas National Park BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES December, relaxing, beaches, slow & easy, popular PREFERENCES: December, relaxing, beaches ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Slow & easy 1 day in Dry Tortugas National Park BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES October, popular PREFERENCES: October ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 13 days in Florida BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES December, kids, culture, outdoors, beaches, fast-paced, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: December, kids, culture, outdoors, beaches ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Fast-paced 1 day in Dry Tortugas National Park BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES September, teens, kids, popular PREFERENCES: September, teens, kids ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 10 days in United States BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 1 day in Dry Tortugas National Park BY A USER FROM CANADA September, popular PREFERENCES: September ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 4 days in Dry Tortugas National Park & Key West BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, kids, culture, outdoors, beaches, historic sites, popular PREFERENCES: July, kids, culture, outdoors, beaches, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in Dry Tortugas National Park & Key West BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, kids, culture, outdoors, beaches, historic sites, slow & easy, popular PREFERENCES: July, kids, culture, outdoors, beaches, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Slow & easy
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