You are here

Hike-in Required
No
Open Year-round
?
Guided tours
No
ADA accessible
Yes
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

National Park Pass

Pros

Amazing views. Filled with wildlife.

Cons

Limited wildlife in summer. Weather is brutal in summer and fall.

Pets allowed

No

Address

SW 8th St
36000
Miami, FL 33194
United States

Features

Bird watching
ADA accessible

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Comments

07/31/2017
Overnight Everglades Kayak Camping Tours
Come kayak, explore and truly experience the REAL Everglades! We offer fully outfitted and guided 3-5-8-day overnight kayak camping tours in the backcountry of Everglades National Park. You can find complete details at www.everglades-kayak.com. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Dave Kochendorfer, Owner/Guide
Florida Outdoor Adventures - Everglades Kayak Tours
http://www.everglades-kayak.com
[email protected]
386-295-1850
07/20/2017
beautiful photos, great info - thanks Annie!! super job!
Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.