Everglades National Park, Day 11 – Monday – February 18, 2013

Day 11, Monday – Shark Valley:  Biking the Tram Road

Shark Valley is about two hours away from Flamingo,
but is still part of Everglades National Park.
On the map, 'A' is Flamingo and 'B' is Shark Valley.
 03a - Correct Route to Shark Valley - 2 hours
We planned to leave early so we packed lunches and got the bikes loaded.
Gin and Syl put their bikes on their car. 
Our bikes travel inside our car so we put Dan and Tricia’s bikes on the back of our car. 
Gin and Syl had room inside to carry Dan and Tricia;o))
01 - Syl Preparing the bikes02 - Our Bikes are always ready03 - Loading Dan and Tricia's Bikes
About 9am and we were ready to roll!!
We left Flamingo campground and drove 38 miles to the Everglades Entrance Station.04 - Entrance Station leaving the park
Then we continued along the road to Florida City where we were to connect with Rt 997.
It’s about 10 miles to Florida city,
past tomato fields and our favorite produce stand!!
05 - Tomato Harvest 06 - Passing Robert Is Here's
Just past the “Robert is Here” produce stand,
we should (the operative word) have turned left on 997.
We never saw the sign or the turn and before we knew it we were in South Miami;o((((
07 - OOPS we're in South Miami
Oh well, it made the trip a bit longer, but at least we weren’t in the Big Rigs!!
07b - Incorrect Route to Shark Valley - 3 hours
We finally did make the left onto Rt 41 which goes to Shark Valley.
08 - Construction Zone on Route 41 - Tamiami Trail
The beginning section of Rt 41 is under construction.  This project is underway to correct the damage done to the everglades by damming and canaling the water flow from Lake Okeechobee. They are building a very long bridge which will restore much of the waterflow.  While the construction does slow travel, it is really an important project and we didn’t mind the construction too much.
Our original plan was to arrive at Shark Valley about 11am.  However, with the wrong turn, it was almost noon.  Since our trip took longer than expected, most of us had already consumed our packed lunches.  We also forgot that today was Presidents Day;o((  The park was jammed!! People were parking along Rt 41 and walking in!!
11 - Uh Oh Forgot it was a holiday - crowded11b - Parking Lot Full, Expect Delays
We decided to just wait in line. 
There were some great wildlife photo opportunities as we waited along the entrance road!!
12a - Entrance Road - Alligator and Turtles12b - Entrance Road - Alligator and Turtles12c - Entrance Road - Great Blue Heron12e - Entrance Road - Tri-Color Heron
Pretty cool and we hadn’t even got out of the car yet!!
When we finally reached the parking lot, we didn't wait long to find a parking space!!  It was completely full and as someone backed out…someone pulled in.  In short order, we all had our bikes ready and were headed down the tram road. 
We hadn’t gone but a few yards and we met our first gator;o))
Tricia is a bit apprehensive about the gators. 
She hung to the left and make sure someone was between her and the gator;o) 
13 - On the trail - first alligator13b - On the trail - just a little closer
Since it was already afternoon, the number of birds was not too great.
However, we saw several wading birds!
13d - On the trail - Little Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Snow Egret & Glossy Ibis                                              Greater Yellowlegs
13c - On the trail - Snowy Egret and Glossy Ibis13d2 - Ride back to visitor center - Lesser Yellowlegs
It is seven miles from the beginning of the road to the tower you can see in the distance.
The gators were out all along the road, warming themselves in the sun.
The farther we road, the more confident and relaxed Tricia became;o)
13e - On the trail - Lots of gators tricia hugging the left  13e2 - On the trail - Lots of gators way to go tricia 
OK, this is getting a little too confident!!13e3 - On the trail - I wouldn't do that Tricia and Syl
Dan stopped to check out momma gator and her little ones.
(click on any photo to enlarge)
13f - On the trail - What's Dan Checking out  13f2 - On the trail - Momma Gator and 2 babies
Be very careful Dan… Momma gators are very protective!!!
When we got to the tower, I volunteered to protect the bikes from the crows. 
The crows will try to get into any carriers and make a real mess of your bike;o(( 
I am not crazy about heights and the gang was happy to have a guard;o))
14 - At the tower - park bikes and bill will watch
Now, I do want to make note that we are in SOUTHERN Florida in February.
We are wearing long pants and sweatshirts!!! 
This shouldn’t be ;o((
Heading up the tower…                               these gators were right next to the railing!!!
14b - At the tower - heading up the tower walk  14c - At the tower - Gators right next to railings
Dan’s approaching the top!!
14d - At the tower - Dan almost to the top
View back down the tram road we rode to get to the tower.14e - At the tower - View back down the trail we pedaled

View to the east – the road back                            View to the west – the River of Grass 14f - At the tower - View of the trail back to visitor center 14g - At the tower - View across the River of Grass
View straight down…
Gator Gathering                                                      Black-crowned Night-heron14h - At the tower - Gators below the tower  14i - At the tower - Black-crowned Night-Heron
At the top of the tower there are many educational signs.
More good information to help us understand why the Everglades are important!!
14j2 - At the tower - Sign Everglades Before 188014k - At the tower - Sign Everglades Today
The bridge construction project we drove through is one step to help correct the shrinking Everglades.
14j1 - At the tower - Sign Heart of the Everglades
14j - At the tower - Sign Driven by Rain
What once seemed like a scary and foreign environment
has become one of our favorite places!!
As we headed down the tower and along the walkway,
we saw our first snake… after 11 days!!!
This one is a little Gray Racer.
15 - returning to bikes - gray racer snake
The ride back to the car is through the prairie. 16 - Ride back to visitor center - the prarrie
Not much wildlife but beautiful views!!!
Shark Valley is one of our favorite places and we will be back in the near future;o))


  1. Awesome pictures...we are really enjoying your Florida adventures!
    Hope to get back there in a couple of years and follow in your footsteps.
    We are going to the Yukon and Alaska next month.

    Safe travels!

  2. A "bit" apprehensive is putting it mildly but I am oh so glad that I faced my fears. The bike ride was AMAZING! And to do it with such good friends, priceless! :-)

  3. Wow -- that was a lot of gators on that bike ride!

  4. Looks like great bike riding! Impressed that Tricia got that close to the alligators!

  5. Shark Valley is pretty cool, isn't it. For best birding one needs to get there really early (like before they even open, bikers can come in then and pay on the way out…you just park outside the gate). That's really the best time of the day to visit although anytime is really pretty decent. Strange you needed long pants; we were over in February sometime and got plenty warm in just bike shorts and jerseys. The gators just lay there…they've seen so many people that they just ignore them.

  6. When I saw today's post #12, I knew I'd missed something. So back I came and am I glad. Shark Valley is one of my favorite places and this is a great post on it. So sorry you guys got on the wrong track and were late to the party but you still had a great time and that's what counts.