Discover Florida: Shark Valley

25 01 2009


Shark Valley is one of the most popular attractions in one of America’s most visited national parks. Located right off Tamiami Trail near the Miami-Dade/Collier line, the entrance to Shark Valley is separated from the rest of Everglades National Park by 36 miles.

Shark Valley’s main trail is unique. Alligators by the dozen lie on the trail as humans walk up and down checking out the scenes. These Gators have lost their fear of humans by virtue of interacting so much with tourists and visitors. However, only one fatality ever occurred between an Alligator and a human at the complex and that was many moons ago. Nature co-exists with human visitors as naturally as it possibly can at Shark Valley.

Tram tours are offered which visitors on board the open air tour on a track which is limited  and the wildlife inhabiting it.  At the midway point of the trip, explorers 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.


In addition to alligators and wading birds, Turtles, Fish, Deer, Raccoons, and other wildlife can all be seen from the Observation Tower.  From the tower you can also get the best possible look at the Shark River Slough. The Observation Tower can be reached also by hiking on the walking trail. The River is a distributor of fresh water into Florida Bay, and it’s health is critical for the entire Everglades ecosystem to function normally.

The building of Tamiami Trail in the 1920s ruined the natural water flow of the Everglades and the Shark Valley Slough. This in turn contributed to the destruction of fisheries and estuaries in Florida Bay. The combination of pollution, and development has prevented the Bay from getting natural freshwater runoff for decades now.  As a solution an elevated stretch of Tamiami Trail through the Shark Valley River Slough has been proposed. An artist rendering of the proposed Everglades Skyway is below.


Shark Valley as mentioned above is part of Everglades National Park and the admission fee gives you access to all of the Park.