Shark Valley is a park in Everglades National Park. It offers up close views of Everglades wildlife, including: alligators, turtles, birds, fish and sometimes snakes or other animals.
The name Shark Valley comes from the fact that the water here goes into the Shark River Slough, which leads into the Florida Bay. There are no sharks in Shark Valley.
Shark Valley can be accessed from Shark Valley Visitor Center, which offers parking during operating hours. It is possible to park outside the visitor center, which can save you money, and walk in but, I parked inside. From the visitor center you can rent a bike for $9/ hour, take a tram, or walk the 15-mile loop. I decided to rent a bike.
I was surprised how many alligators there were and how close I was to them. Visiting Shark Valley gives an up close and personal view of the wildlife. Once at the 45-foot tall observatory tower, which is at the end of the trail, half-way in the loop, I was able to see far in all directions of the Everglades.
Shark Valley can be inundated with tourists, filling the parking lot, so I arrived as early as possible, parking at about 9:00AM. I was able to experience most of the trail without being surrounded with tram tourists, which was important for my overall experience.
There are a few side trails that I walked, one of which I encoutered a snake on. I threw sticks at the snake so that it would leave the path. I did not realize until later that it was not poisonous but I did not want to take the chance to find out.
The way to the tower, in the direction the bikes are supposed to go, is the most scenic part of Shark Valley. The return route offers less to see and fewer alligators plus you are riding into the wind.
Overall, I enjoyed my time in Shark Valley and was impressed with the alligators and views from the top of the observation tower.
- Shark Valley is open 24-hours but the visitor center parking lot is only open 8:30AM to 6:00PM.
- You can rent biked until around the time the park opens and must have them returned by 5:00PM.
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