Many campers are reluctant to pay a $19 camping fee. But how about a $195 camping fee?

Campers are paying just that to camp at Dry Tortugas National Park 70 miles off the Florida coast.

Dry Tortugas National Park

70 miles is a long way off the coast. Beyond Key West sits Dry Tortugas National Park and campground.


The campground is located on an island accessible only by boat or seaplane. Most people get to the island via the Yankee Freedom ferry. In addition to normal camping activities, the 10 campsites are near Fort Jefferson, a 19th century military fort open to exploration. Sites are large enough for a maximum of 6 people (three 2-person tents).

Fort Jefferson

Fort Jefferson on Garden Key Island, a very short walk from the campsites. Photo via Dyrt user Dalia M.

Also included in the $195 fee is access to snorkeling gear as well as breakfast and lunch on your way to the campgrounds.

An Island Campsite to Yourself (Almost)

The ferry doubles as a popular day trip. This means there’s a lot of traffic during the day–but all that traffic that leaves at 2:45 PM to get back to the mainland.

The sea.

An almost-empty playground for outdoors and history lovers alike. Photo via Dyrt user Dalia M.

The exodus of daytrippers leaves the island nearly empty. After 2:45, you have free reign of the land and access to kayaks, snorkeling gear, island beaches… and almost no one to compete with when selecting activities.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Kayaking from the main island to one of the smaller auxiliary islands nearby. Photo via Dyrt user Dalia M.

You can stay on the island for up to three nights. Luckily, the $195 price tag isn’t nightly, but you do need to pay a price per night for your campsite, collected when you get to the island. Prices range from $15 to $30 depending on your group size.

It should be noted, too, that you need to bring all your own gear–this includes food and water. This is a true primitive camping experience. While you have the convenience of transportation and facilities, that’s about it.

Despite the cost, The Dyrt user Dalia M says, “the max stay of three days is a must,” and goes so far as to call Dry Tortugas Campground “A bucket list trip that you will remember forever.” Strong words!


The Dyrt user Dalia M bonding with local wildlife.

It’s easier to see now why the $195 price tag may be worth it. The question remains, though… would you pay almost $200 per person to camp, even if you have an island essentially to yourself?

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