Dry Tortugas National Park has limited options for vessels landing on Garden Key during grouper season
Closures will last until repairs are completed in 2024
KEY WEST, Fla. – Dry Tortugas National Park announced limited options and closures for private vessels landing on Garden Key. The park typically experiences increased use by boaters fishing during grouper season, which begins in May. The finger piers and main dinghy beach sustained damage from Hurricane Ian in 2022 and remain closed until repairs can be made.
Beginning May 1, the small dinghy beach between the main dock and the seaplane beach will be open from sunrise until 10 a.m. and again from 3 p.m. to sunset. The beach will be closed to all landings from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to allow for safe maneuvering of the ferry and seaplane access. Vessels are prohibited from using the seaplane beach.
The adjacent Bush Key is also closed for sea turtles and nesting birds at this time of year. No landing or anchoring is permitted within 100 feet of the shoreline of Bush Key.
Private vessels may use the main dock when available but will be limited by available space. The east end of the main dock is reserved for the Yankee Freedom III between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day. Vessels may use the west end of the dock when available, but dock space is limited to approximately three boats tied to the dock and no more than two boats deep (hip to hip). Total allowable dock usage for one day is two hours (cumulative) per vessel and no overnight docking is permitted.
Priority use of the main dock is given in this order: emergencies, government vessels, vessels under contract (such as the Yankee Freedom III), and the public.
The National Park Service has secured funding for repairs to the finger piers and dinghy beach, but repairs are not expected to be completed until sometime in 2024.
As a reminder, all private boats recreating or stopping in Dry Tortugas National Park must obtain a boat permit at the Garden Key dock house before recreating within the park.
Visitors should also be aware of temporary closures to sections of the moat wall for snorkeling and walking while coral relocation work is taking place from April through June.
For more information about boating in the park, visit the boating page on the park’s website at: https://www.nps.gov/drto/planyourvisit/boating.htm.
For more information about Dry Tortugas National Park, visit nps.gov/drto or follow the park on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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