Dry Tortugas National Park
Seventy miles west of Key West lies Dry Tortugas National Park: the uninhabited Dry Tortugas islands and Fort Jefferson, a natural wonderland and important historical and cultural site. This group of small keys and semi-submerged sandbars currently includes seven islands and shoals: Garden, Loggerhead, Bush, Long, East, Hospital, and Middle Keys. In centuries past, the form and number of the Tortugas has varied, but the area has always attracted the attention of explorers and mariners. The Dry Tortugas received their European name when Spanish explorer Ponce de León first visited the area in 1513. He named the islands Las Tortugas after his men took 170 sea turtles from the beaches and waters to use for food and ship’s provisions. Later, “Dry” was added to the name to indicate the complete lack of water on the islands.