Everglades National Park Shark Valley Unit

Wednesday March 13th 2019

The day began with sunshine occasionally obscured by a cloud. It ended with scattered clouds, but that doesn’t really tell today’s weather tail. During the middle of the day the sun was mostly blocked by clouds and the wind howled hard from the north east. The temperature peaked in the low eighties.

Shark Valley Everglades Observation Tower.
Road approaching the tower.
Road leaving the observation tower wanders through the grass area. Since this is the dry season, some of it is dry and some of it is wet.

Today I visited the Shark Valley unit of the Everglades National Park. The chief feature of this unit is an observation tower in the middle of the Shark River Slough. The parking lot for the Shark Valley unit is along the Tamiami trail and the observation tower is located seven miles south of the parking area. There are three ways to get to the tower. You can walk, take a tram or ride a bicycle. Most people choose the tram. I decided to ride my bicycle.

Tram approaching along the loop road.

The tram takes a clockwise trip to the tower and back. It has a narrator and slows down at various points along the fifteen mile loop. The only stop is at the observation tower. The bicycle and walking route takes the same loop road counter clockwise. By riding my bike I can stop anywhere along the way to take pictures and watch the wildlife.

Younger Great Blue Heron that hasn’t completely turned blue grey.

The seven mile ride out to the observation tower was easy. I was early enough that there weren’t many other riders on the road. A deeper water area runs along the west side of the road all the way out to the tower. It is home to alligators, lots of fish and wading birds. I stopped often to take pictures. Eventually I got saturated with picture taking and only stopped for something special.

There were plenty of gators.

The observation tower has a gradual curving concrete ramp to climb above tree level. The view beyond the small hammock of trees is of the huge grass filled slow moving river that is the Everglades. When I first arrived at the observation tower I had it to myself. After about five minutes a couple of bicyclists joined me on the tower. A few minutes after that the next tram arrived to deposit a load of people which was my signal to get moving.

The return ride on the eight mile section of the road through the open grass area was much harder than the trip out. The wind had picked up and there was nothing to block its full force. Most of the way back I had a head wind. The last two or three miles were torture. I stopped several times to drink and eat a snack. Many of the people that were well behind me on the way out passed me on the way back to the parking lot. I was in a hurry to get started this morning and didn’t eat a big breakfast. I paid the price on the ride back to the parking lot.

End of Post

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