Dry Tortugas Light – A Barely Visible Beacon Over Loggerhead Key
If you want to take your social distancing to the ultimate extreme while remaining in mainland USA, then Loggerhead Key is for you. The impossibly flat islet rests three miles west of Fort Jefferson, itself 68 miles from Key West. I was standing atop the ramparts of Fort Jefferson when I snapped this pic. As you can see, Loggerhead is nearly invisible from just a few miles away. At the same time, though, Loggerhead Key is also the largest of the Dry Tortugas islands. These factors, plus its precarious location in the middle of Gulf of Mexico shipping lanes, made Loggerhead the perfect spot for one of the USA’s most important lighthouses – Dry Tortugas Light.
The lighthouse, also known as Loggerhead Lighthouse, towers 157 feet into the sky. They originally flipped on the light back in 1858. It wasn’t until 1988, though, that the lighthouse became automated. Caretakers living here over the intervening 130 years would’ve had little worry over seeing too many other souls, much less contracting any prevailing maladies.
Dry Tortugas Light was decommissioned in 2015. No one lives on Loggerhead Key now. You’re welcome to visit, though, and explore a bit of the islet’s history and sandy natural surrounds. There are a few rules to follow, though…
Visiting Dry Tortugas Light + Loggerhead Key
First: You’ll need your own private vessel. Public transportation to/from Loggerhead Key is just not an option.
Second: You have to stop at Garden Key/Fort Jefferson to get a permit before proceeding to Loggerhead.
Third: It is strictly forbidden to drop anchor anywhere in the Dry Tortugas Research Natural Area. Mooring balls are available, though.
Fourth: You must stick to marked paths on Loggerhead Key. The lighthouse and all other structures are off-limits.
Lastly, you have to leave before sundown as visitation is restricted to daylight hours.
I’m not usually that big on rules. The opportunity to get closer to Dry Tortugas Light next time I’m in the Florida Keys, though, has me willing to make an exception…