Visiting the Everglades is a bucket list item that I’ve had in my sights since I moved to Florida. I just couldn’t make up my mind how to see the Everglades: a boat tour, an airboat ride, or simply go for a visit near a park entrance and try my luck. Then I ran across an article on the Shark Valley Tram Tour. A picture of the Shark Valley Observation Tower caught my eye and I knew I had just stumbled upon the inspiration for my trip.
I was so excited about my find that I researched the area, but not the best times to visit. I ended up going on the Shark Valley Tram Tour during the dry season, so we saw fields of grass and plains, but not a lot of swampy waters filled with alligators. Our guide told us that the best time to view the alligators is in the wet season. He also said that the area looks completely different during the wet season, you wouldn’t even think you’re in the same place. The water rises up to the trail that the trolley runs on and sometimes laps over it, and there is scarcely any bare land. Our group looked at the dry grass plains that stretched for miles in all directions and tried to imagine the land flooded by water, but our imaginations weren’t up to the task.
Shark Valley Observation Tower
Our guide did was able to spot a few alligators for us to see. Some of the gators stay in the murky low water off of drain pipes during the day sunbathing. He was great at spotting them before they swam off into the pipes.
In the middle of the tram tour we arrived at the Shark Valley Observation Tower. The tower is 45 feet high and overlooks the area. The view is incredible, even in the dry season!
There was a river around the observation tower, so we were able to see alligators swimming and basking in the sun. There were even some baby gators that we saw off the main trail before we hopped back on the tram.
After tour you can walk around on your own on the trail to inspect the area a little closer. The trail is a big 15 mile loop. If you don’t want to take the tram ride you can walk the loop or rent bicycles. Our guide did warn us that it gets so hot that some people cannot complete the entire loop and have to call someone to pick them up. We actually witnessed this happening on our trip back!
The drive to/from the area has numerous places to see and hold alligators and go on airboat rides. The restuarants in the area also cook alligators so you can try some as well! Shark Valley is a little over 4 hours from Orlando.