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Shark Valley Visitor Center

Everglades National Park

Everglades Area, Florida

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Shark Valley Visitor Center

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  • The entrance to Shark Valley.- Shark Valley Visitor Center
  • A view of the Everglades.- Shark Valley Visitor Center
  • Great blue heron.- Shark Valley Visitor Center
  • Alligators sunning themselves along the trail near the viewing tower.- Shark Valley Visitor Center
  • A view of the Everglades.- Shark Valley Visitor Center
  • Storms out in the distance.- Shark Valley Visitor Center
  • This part of the Everglades is known for wildlife.- Shark Valley Visitor Center
  • View down from the viewing tower.- Shark Valley Visitor Center
  • Unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Shark Valley Visitor Center
  • The viewing tower.- Shark Valley Visitor Center
  • A view from the tower.- Shark Valley Visitor Center
  • Red-shouldered hawk.- Shark Valley Visitor Center
  • Anhinga.- Shark Valley Visitor Center
  • Great blue heron.- Shark Valley Visitor Center
  • Snowy egret.- Shark Valley Visitor Center
  • An alligator's jaws easily crack a turtle's shell.- Shark Valley Visitor Center
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Amazing views. Filled with wildlife.
Cons: 
Limited wildlife in summer. Weather is brutal in summer and fall.
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Region:
Everglades Area, FL
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
No
Parking Pass: 
National Park Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Contributor

At the Shark Valley Visitor Center, you will have the opportunity to experience the best of the Everglades. To access the trail you may ride a tram, rent bikes, or go out on foot. The tram takes you out 7 miles to the viewing tower. It is appropriate for older and younger visitors who are not interested in biking. If you go out on foot there are smaller trails through dense vegetation that have small sink holes that highlight Florida's limestone bedrock and karst topography. If you bike, the total trail is a 15-mile loop. The viewing tower is located in the center. To get out to the tower it will be necessary to take the tram or bike, and you must make it to the tower.

The viewing tower is an ominous concrete structure that provides views out over the river of grass. From there, visitors are able to see what a natural Florida landscape would be like without human intervention. If you're lucky, at the base of the tower you'll see a pile of alligators and maybe even a lost crocodile relaxing and sunning themselves. There is also a short walking path through the tropical hardwood hammock that is worth poking through.

The loop trail is split in two portions with the tower located in the middle. The two portions of the trail have very different aesthetics. The first half of the trail is adjacent to a trench that was dug to build up the asphalt path itself. This has created the perfect viewing area for all sorts of wildlife. Sometimes alligators park themselves in the middle of the path and visitors must navigate around them. It's very rare that these creatures make any sudden moves, but always keep in mind they are wild and maintain a comfortable distance. It's also common to see many different types of birds, turtles, fish, and snakes along the way. The second half of the trail resembles more of what the Everglades naturally looks like. There are views out on the grass ponds, where you'll find even more wildlife. The terrain is so flat that you will also see any storms out in the distance. Clouds act as Florida's mountain ranges.

The parking lot can get crowded, making it necessary to park on the main road and walk into the park. Even at times like this, the trail does not feel too inundated because everyone tends to spread out and explore the trail at their own pace. This is part of the Everglades National Park, so you may enter for free if you are an America the Beautiful pass holder. Otherwise you can pay the entrance fee by car or foot at the Ranger Station. The visitor center is where you may rent bikes, buy tickets, and get on the tram. There is also a gift shop where you may buy Everglades National Park souvenirs. There are clean bathrooms and vending machines for snacks and drinks. If you want other food, you will need to bring it with you. There are no nearby stores as this is located in the middle of the Everglades.

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(1 within a 30 mile radius)

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