What is Fort Jefferson, and Why Should You Visit?
Fort Jefferson National Park is the largest brick structure in the western hemisphere and is among the 10 least visited national parks in the United States!
Simply imagine getting flown out to a remote island where there’s a grand brick structure in almost the same exact condition as when it was in use!
You get to experience true history at Fort Jefferson National Park. There are no fences, no ropes, and no alterations to keep you from walking around the park just like when troops were stationed here! The only areas that are prohibited are those reserved for the 8 park rangers who maintain the grounds – that’s it! And the prohibited area is hardly noticeable.
And there’s more to the park than just the massive brick structure – you can go checkout exotic birds at the bird sanctuary or go snorkeling just outside of the fortress’s walls to explore all the beautiful marine life that thrives along the reef!
Hop over to my article, Irma Can’t Hold the Keys Back, for an overview of my trip to Key West, Florida!
Getting to Fort Jefferson
There are two methods of transportation you can take to get to Fort Jefferson:
I highly highly recommend visiting Fort Jefferson by seaplane. Yes, making the trek out to the park by seaplane is much more expensive than taking the ferry, but you’ll also have a much better experience – here’s why:
- The ferry takes approximately 2.25 hours both ways (that’s 4.5 hours bobbling about on the ocean!), and you’re only allotted “a little more than 4 hours” of exploration time. More time in transport than actual adventuring time… that’s awful! The seaplane takes approximately 40 minutes each way, and… you get
- The ferry won’t provide you with an amazing aerial view of Key West, Fort Jefferson, and shipwrecks – sharks – dolphins – sea turtles when you travel by ferry.
If you haven’t guessed by now, we traveled via seaplane.
Just look at the amazing view of Key West you get when you take-off! I was blown away by how gorgeous the entirety of the flight was.
And not only is the view of Key West gorgeous, but just marvel at how cool Fort Jefferson looks when you’re making your landing!
Activities at Fort Jefferson
No matter your transportation of choice, you won’t be disappointed by the activities Fort Jefferson offers:
1. Touring the Fortress
Like I said in the opening, the fortress has no fences, no ropes, and no alterations to prevent you from exploring! You get to experience the fort exactly as it was, with some general wear and tear, when 2000 troops were stationed here!
We quickly chose a picnic table to set down our snorkeling gear, which was provided by Key West Seaplane Adventures, and headed for the courtyard! Quick note regarding leaving our stuff: no one messed with anything! What other tourist attraction can you go to and leave items without fearing they’ll be stolen? Nowhere!
We rounded the corner and headed up the stairs for an overview of the fortress, the grounds, and the surrounding waters. And my oh my… it was breathtaking!
We walked around the perimeter of the fort, along the second floor that was open to the public, and all throughout the courtyard. Of everywhere we explored, the “Chapel” was by far mine and Nikki’s favorite!
Needless to say… Nikki and I had a stellar photoshoot in the “Chapel!” Special thanks to Pentax for the bitchin HDR Landscape mode – we put it to great use!
And yes… I proudly shoot with a Pentax K-70, 18-135mm Lens… didn’t think they were still around did yah?!
These photos were taken using the 18-135mm lens, which came with my camera. I’m in the market for a new lens – specifically the 15-30mm Pentax Lens – as it’s more suitable for landscape and portraits, which is my jam!
2. Bird Watching
Of the three activities I’ve listed, bird watching was the only one we didn’t get to experience. I have this in here mainly as information for those of you who visit – there is an amazing bird sanctuary at the other end of the island. The birds were buzzing while we were there… but we chose to spend our time at the fort and in the water.
The waters that surround Fort Jefferson are absolutely to die for! And, compliments of Key West Seaplane Adventures, we were able to experience them with an awesome snorkeling excursion!
Stay tuned for some GoPro footage of our snorkeling adventures, as well as where our favorite spots for snorkeling were!
Be Among the Few Who Visit Fort Jefferson
Nature and history in its rawest form await you at the “Dry Tortugas!” Few will ever venture here, and of those who do shall receive a touristy experience unlike any other. Take a break from drunken Duval Street and all the other mainland attractions that get congested with cruise ships and common tourists… do something different that will enrich your experience! I cannot recommend touring Fort Jefferson more.
Reminder to Just Say Yes!
And, more importantly as always, say yes to experiences that present themselves to you! Life is full of fun and wonder – don’t be stuck at home wondering what life could be like, should be like, would be like… drop that nonsense! Get out there, say yes, and never look back!
Aly’s Camera Choice
I’m in the market for the 15-30mm Pentax Lens so be on the lookout for when I post photos using that bad boy! Landscape and portrait photography are my passion. That being said, feel free to checkout the Pentax K-70 Body Only (silver) and upgrade your first lens choice!
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As a disclaimer, I was not paid by any of the above linked sites. This review is solely mine without any monetary compensation. However, I will receive a small kickback from Amazon if you decide you want to become a Pentaxian like me! I couldn’t recommend the Pentax K-70 and Adobe Creative Cloud more – look at all my pictures if you don’t believe me.