Sunday, November 6, 2016

Took the Tram Ride at Shark Valley in the Everglades National Park

A Great Blue Heron at Shark Valley
Excellent Wildlife Viewing
First let me start off by telling you that my initial plans were not to go to Shark Valley on this trip.  I actually was going to go Swamp Walking down in the Long Pine Key area of the Everglades.  My friend Ed from work said he would go with me, because Nadia was not going to have any part of it.  Even though Nadia was old enough (12 years old) I was a little worried and thought I should try this out first, and then see if this is something she would like to try.  Hey, even both Ed and I had our reservations about going.  It was forecasted to be 90 degrees out (March).  When I made the reservations with the Ranger she told me to remember that this was strenuous.  Ok, now we were nervous, but then became gung ho again. 

It was the day of the swamp walk and while I was waiting for Ed to pick me up, the Ranger called to cancel!! The Ranger that was going to take us through the swamp was sick :( We could have rescheduled during the week (but we had to work) or for the next Saturday, but I was going to be out of town and it was the last walk for the season.  I have been trying to do this walk for three years now.  Maybe I am not supposed to do it.  

I think we were both kind of relieved that it got cancelled because 90 degree weather is too hot to be walking around in a swamp.  We are going to try again in December or January when it is a lot cooler here.

A little alligator at Shark Valley National Park
A Little Gator Hiding in the Swamp
So, to make lemonade out of lemons, I suggested we go to Shark Valley and ride the tram.  At least with riding the tram, we would have a breeze blowing on us and shade from the roof of the tram.  Ed agreed, we changed into shorts and we were off onto our adventure.

A Little Blue Heron in the Everglades
A Little Blue Heron
We arrived at Shark Valley around 11:45 a.m.  The parking lot was already full, so we had to park along side the Tamiami Trail.  You need to arrive at the park early to get parking in the lot.  I would try to do this, because I find backing out onto the Tamiami Trail scary.

Ed and I walked up to the Ranger Station and paid the park entrance fee.  It is good for seven consecutive days for any park entrance in the Everglades National Park, so do not lose your receipt.

A little baby alligator on a leaf out in the everglades at Shark Valley
A Little Baby Alligator
As soon as we got in the park, we ran to the restroom.  They have the "special park" restrooms here. Quite a draft!  At the observation tower, they have regular flush toilets.

We bought our tickets for the tram ride and we had 30 minutes to kill, before we had to be in line for our tram.  So we walked on the Bobcat Boardwalk Trail.  This trail takes you from one side of the loop to the other, it is about a 5-10 minute walk and there is some shade. 

When you come to the end of the board walk trail, cross the road and look over by the water.  You will see all kinds of wildlife, from turtles, birds to alligators.  We got to see a little baby alligator on a leaf.  He did look kind of cute.  We also saw this colorful blue bird.  I think it is called a Purple Gallinule.

Purple Gallinule in the Everglades

We still had time, so we walked over to the Otter Cove Hammock Trail.

Otter Cover Hammock Trail hiking nature trail at Shark Valley
Otter Cover Hammock Trail
On this trail, there is a warning to watch out for solution holes.  These holes can be very big, so do not let your children run ahead of you and watch your step as well.  You can read more about the solution holes on my previous blog post about Bike Riding at Shark Valley.  

Here is a photo of Ed's foot near a solution hole, to give you an idea.

A Solution hole found on some hiking Trails in the Everglades
A Solution Hole
It was now time to head back, so we could get on our tram to ride the 15 mile loop road.  

The tram ride was very nice.  It starts by going left on the loop road and is narrated.  We did get to stop and see some alligators and birds on our way to the observation tower.  The tram stops at the observation tower and you are allowed 20 minutes to explore.

Shark Valley Everglades Guided Tram Tour - $24.00 from VIATOR

Join this 2-hour Shark Valley tram tour for an in-depth look through the northern region of Everglades National Park. This naturalist led tour is conducted on board an open air tram introducing you to the "River of Grass" and the wildlife inhabiting it. At the midway point, you'll have the opportunity to stroll up the spiral ramp way and platform of the Shark Valley observation tower, allowing a panoramic view of the heart of the Everglades.

We had gone on the walking trail at the base of the Tower and I was busy talking and here was this alligator next to me.  He scared me.  Always be aware of your surroundings.  Alligators everywhere, but luckily we did not see any pythons.

Sneaky Gator silent in the water
Sneaky Gator
On the way back, the tram did not stop so much, but we did get to see this baby Anhinga in a tree.  I had never seen a baby Anhinga before.  

Baby Anhinga in the Everglades

I did enjoy the tram ride, but I missed taking my time and viewing everything up close and at my own pace.  

So, if you have the energy and time, you might enjoy bike riding the 15 mile loop instead.  If not, you will still enjoy the tram ride around.

Alligator at Shark Valley in the Everglades National Park

​Also I forgot to mention, wear lots of sunscreen and put on some mosquito spray too.

Here is the link to Shark Valley's website so you can find out more Information.
A Secret Path Wall Tapestry