The Dry Tortugas National Park consists of seven tiny islands composed of coral reefs
, white sandy beaches and the surrounding tropical waters.
The park has no boat moorings or slips.
is permitted only within one mile of the Garden Key Harbor Light.
Bird Key Harbor, southwest of the fort, is used by larger vessels, and is usually a little quieter than the area around Fort Jefferson.
The bottom is a mix of soft sand, hard sand, coral
rubble, and grass in both areas.
at the fort is limited to two hours per day per vessel (when not in use by tour boats) and is closed after sunset.
Dinghies can be beached south of the pier.
See the Dry Tortugas Chart #11438
The approach to Garden Key from the east is deep and wide in Southeast Channel, taking R 2 Fl R 4s to starboard and split the distance between Hospital Keys R 4 and the Fl G 4s 16ft 4M light on Iowa Rock.
Making a slow U-turn to the west, then south, look for the poles marking the north-south channel between Garden Key and Bush Key. These nav aids have been damaged repeatedly by hurricanes but the poles remain, making a good reference for daylight navigation
into the anchorage.
The pass between Garden Key and Bush Key had shoaled over in recent years, but thanks to Mother Nature, was again open and navigable late in 2006 with minimum depths over 7 feet.
A slightly longer route
, but with better nav aids and a little more room for error, is the channel west of Garden Key. Continuing due west past Iowa Rock and the north end of Garden Key, R 6 marks a shoal but G 3 and R 2 just to the southeast set you up for the curving channel leading southeast.
Turning east at R 8 and G 9 south of Garden Key leads to the anchorage closest to the fort.
Approaching from the south, a 357ºM course from Y A Fl Y 2.5s to G C 1 (with Loggerhead Key ahead) sets you up for the marked channel leading northeast, then south to either the Garden Key anchorage or Bird Key