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Florida Everglades Shark Valley

The Florida Everglades Shark Valley park can only be described in one word.

Awesome.

I know that word is used a lot -- I'm guilty of it myself. But I was astounded and amazed at the experience that is the Florida Everglades National Park.

Heck, just the entrance to Shark Valley alone was amazing -- full of plants an animals that obviously knew how to pose for pictures!

I'll share some of the wonders I saw; I know that my photos can't do the Everglades Shark Valley park and wildlife justice, but I hope you enjoy them anyway!

A Little Bit About the Everglades

Before Florida was really settled (before 1900), what we know as the 'Glades stretched from Lake Okeechobee in the north, to Florida Bay in the south. Miami was on the coast, but it was just a small city.  The whole area was a vast marsh and swamp, teeming with wildlife.Florida Everglades National Park, Shark Valley Entrance

In fact, it's said that the birds had such large flocks that when a big group flew overhead, they would block out the sun for minutes at a time -- now that's a lot of birds!

Sadly, civilization moved in and the Everglades was set to be drained and turned into farmland.  Fortunately that was blocked and at least some of the wilderness survived.

Today, there is an Everglades Restoration project, funded by both Florida and the national government, to try and restore the 'Glades.

You can also read more about Everglades facts and history.

Before You Arrive...

Be aware of a few things:

  • The gates open at 8:45 AM, but the line starts forming before 8:00 AM. The reason? The first tram tour starts at 9:00 AM, and earlier is better for viewing wildlife.

  • The parking lot for the Everglades Shark Valley is tiny! I was surprised at how little parking there is. And if you are driving an RV, forget about parking here unless you come very early -- there isn't room for more than one or two RVs.

  • The entrance fee is $10.00 per standard vehicle (not sure about the RVs), or $5.00 per person for those who walk/bike in.

Shark Valley Tram Tour

Yes, there is a great tram tour at the Everglades Shark Valley entrance. The fee is $14.00 per person, and the tour takes just about 2 hours. The trams run every hour, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

Be sure to buy your tickets at least 15 minutes before the tour begins -- lots of people take this tram ride! It starts and ends at the Visitor's Center (a small building, but hard to miss anyway).

Everglades Shark Valley, Wild AlligatorBiking and Hiking

You can take the Everglades Shark Valley tram tour, or you can rent (or bring) a bicycle. The bikes and tram use the same roadway, so you see the same sights. Be aware that it is almost 15 miles to make the loop though!

Naturally, you can also walk the loop if you want.  Or as much of it as you care to.  There are also shorter trails near to the visitor center.  

Both bicycles and hikers should stop and move to the side of the road when a tram approaches.

No Airboats?

The Florida Everglades National Park is very sensitive, ecologically speaking.  Therefore, there aren't any airboat rides in the park proper.

If you have your heart set on an airboat ride, go back a little ways east on Tamiami Trail to the Miccosukee Indiean Reservation; they have them, as they are not in the park.

What Can You See?

Wildlife is abundant. Most of what you'll see are birds and alligators, and you'll see lots of them both. The tram guides are great about slowing down or even stopping for a couple of minutes when there is an interesting animal in sight.

Here are some animals in the Everglades that you might encounter.

At the middle of the trip is the observation tower, which you can climb for a bird's-eye view of the park. You can walk up the ramp, which isn't too difficult. Do try -- the view from the top is great!

Photo Gallery

Photos say more than I ever could about the Everglades Shark Valley park entrance. Bit because I didn't want to slow down anyone (too much) who is on dial-up, I am putting the photos on separate pages. Those of you on dial-up: I've optimized the pictures to download as fast as possible, but they are still pretty big. So please be patient - the photos are worth it!

So, are you ready? Click and see the Everglades Shark Valley photo gallery!

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