70 miles west of Key West, FL
5 feet above sea level
High 85°F / Low 76°F
This is the first of many National Parks we will visit as fulltime RVers. While we have camped here four times before we always stayed just two nights over a holiday weekend, in order to be back home for work on Tuesday morning. This time is different, we stayed the maximum three nights allowed by the Yankee Freedom III ferry boat operators. We stayed during the week and just after a holiday weekend, hoping to avoid the crowds of people that holiday weekends bring and for the most part it worked.
The maximum visit as imposed by the park is 14 days, but you have to arrive by private boat to take advantage of that. In my opinion three nights is the perfect length of time to see and do everything on this small island. One day to fully explore the fort and take the history tour that the ferry boat operators provide. That leaves two days for snorkeling either before the boat arrives in the morning around 10:30 AM or after it departs around 2:45 PM. No need to share the ocean with the 150-175 people who come out here everyday on board the ferry to also enjoy the snorkeling. If you think two days of snorkeling is to much, it's not, there is plenty to see and it's always changing. It also gives you a backup day in case the weather takes one day away from you, which happens a lot out here.
You may wonder what we do on the cloudy, windy or rainy days when snorkeling and camping is not so much a pleasurable activity. We like to grab our chairs and something to read, head into the fort and find one of the many windows to sit in, then try to embrace the less than perfect weather. Or if it's just cloudy out, try walking around the moat wall and peer into the water on both sides, there is much to be seen even from this vantage point. You used to be able to walk all the way around the fort on the moat wall, but no longer as seen in the pictures above, thanks to Hurricane Irma in September 2017.
After arriving back in Key West we loaded our gear into ROVER (our truck) and set out to find a good hot meal near the marina. Turtle Kraals was just the place to enjoy a delicious serving of conch fritters, fresh blackened fish sandwich and fish tacos. Now it's time for the hour long drive back up the Keys to where THE POD (our trailer) is parked and a nice long hot shower to end the day.
DRY TORTUGAS NATIONAL PARK
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