The national park, located some 70 miles west of Key West, would first close at noon on September 26. As Ian gathers strength, Dry Tortugas will remain closed “in preparation for Hurricane Ian for the safety of visitors and staff,” the park announces in their media release.
“Concession-operated ferry and sea plane services are also temporarily suspended,” the park adds. Hurricane Ian is currently hitting Key West, and the city’s beloved nearby national park has done everything it can to prepare.
Park Rangers completed hurricane preparations at the park by Monday morning. As a result, Garden Key, Loggerhead Key, and all other islands and facilities in the park are closed. This includes the campground, main dock and visitor courtesy slips on Garden Key. The park and community’s main dock at Loggerhead Key is also closed.
While the park is shut down, “vessels may seek safe harbor in the designated areas within the one nautical mile anchoring zone around Garden Key, including Bird Key Harbor,” the park cites. But “there will be no visitor services available while the closure is in effect and emergency services will be extremely limited.”
Dry Tortugas National Park does not have an estimated date for reopening, as hurricanes are unpredictable. The park does state, however, that all closures will remain in place “until the severe weather has passed and the National Park Service decides that employee and visitor facilities are safe.”
The park’s current status will be posted as an alert on its website here.
U.S. National Parks Brace for Hurricane Ian
Keep in mind that if the storm track changes, the parks may issue a new advisory with updated status. This will include any lifting of closures. Please also check “Alerts” on the park website at the link above for current information.
In addition, the NPS Hurricane and Severe Weather Response has updates for all National Park Service sites. Several other parks have also closed in anticipation of the Category 3 hurricane, which is expected to increase to a Category 4 when it reaches inland Florida.
Gulf Islands National Seashore was one of the first national parks to announce closures. Their Florida Areas of the park closed to all visitors on Sept. 25. Closures began at 8 p.m. Sunday in preparation for what was then Tropical Storm Ian.
“Due to potentially deteriorating conditions forecasted by the National Weather Service Office, high surf, and the likelihood for significant flooding on the park roadways, the park will close the Florida Areas until further notice,” announced Superintendent Darrell Echols.
“Our priority is to ensure the safest environment possible for park visitors and staff. The park will announce changes as appropriate,” Echols continued. “But current conditions do not allow the park to remain open.”
Further national park sites are closing as Hurricane Ian takes to Florida, and Outsider will keep you updated.