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Shark Valley — Everglades National Park
shark valley scene
shark valley
shark valley
 

36000 SW 8th Street
Miami

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If there is one spot that comes to mind when thinking nature and Florida, it's this place, Everglades National Park. And Shark Valley is probably the closest place to access the park for most people. Shark Valley sits about 25 miles west of Florida's Turnpike, and the drive along SW 8th, aka Tamiami Trail, aka U.S. 41, really is part of the destination, especially west of Krome Avenue. The road parallels a canal that is a magnet for wading birds, alligators and turtles, and at a few points, there are bridges that will allow you to cross over, park and get a peek at the vast, wet prairie that lies beyond. It's all part of the Great Florida Birding Trail.

Shark Valley itself offers a 15-mile paved loop hiking and biking trail (bikes can be rented there), the Bobcat Boardwalk and a short natural surface trail called Otter Cave, which moves through a tropical hardwood hammock and some interesting geological features called solutions, or as we call them, nature's potholes. There is an observation tower at the seven-mile mark. There are two-hour tram tours available. The visitor's center has restrooms, drinking water and vending machines, but there is nothing along the trail itself (restrooms are available at the tower). The loop trail moves along a canal that is home to more than a few alligators. There's nothing between you and them, so a bit of caution is advised when approaching the bank.

Note: the park entrance closes at 6 p.m. throughout the year; there is a $10 admission good for seven days and at any other entrance to the park. Species we spotted include buttonbush, alligator, hawk, flea bane, sawgrass, willow, cattails, cardinals, egrets, red-winged blackbirds, black vultures, turkey vultures and a heck of a lot more.

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More Resources for Shark Valley
Institute for Regional Conservation Plants Inventory Friends of the Everglades South Florida National Parks Trust  
 
Photo Gallery for Shark Valley
hawk spider lilly sawgrass green anole
lubber grasshopper purple thistle mockingbird
yellow flower anhinga flea bane
white peacock butterfly ironweed
Unless otherwise stated, all photographs are property of the publishers and may not be used without their express permission.