Situated in heart of what many call the “true Everglades”—a river of grass that stretches 100 miles (161 kilometers) from Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico—Shark Valley is part of a freshwater ecosystem with incredible biodiversity. It’s one of the best places in Everglades National Park to spot alligators, birds, and other wildlife.
Visitors start their explorations at the Shark Valley Visitor Center to learn more about local ecology. A 15-mile (24-kilometer) paved loop circles through the area and is open to cyclists and pedestrians. One of the most popular ways to explore the area (and cover more ground than you could on foot) is via a guided tram tour. During this 2-hour excursion, visitors can spot wildlife while learning about the wetlands from an onboard naturalist guide.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Shark Valley is a must-visit for families and wildlife enthusiasts.
- Shark Valley tram tours are not included with national park entrance.
- Restrooms are available at the Shark Valley Visitor Center.
- The visitor’s center and one of the two walking trails is wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
Because there is no public transportation to Shark Valley, the best way to get there is to join a guided tour with round-trip transportation, or to drive yourself. The visitor’s center is located along Highway 41, 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of the Florida Turnpike.
When to Get There
The Shark Valley entrance to Everglades National Park is open daily from 8:30am to 6pm, even though the park itself is open 24 hours a day. The best time to spot wildlife is during the dry season (November to March); this is also when visitors will find the biggest variety of ranger-led programming.
What’s in the Name?
Shark Valley may seem like an odd name for an area of wetlands best known for alligators. This area of the park, added in 1989, is actually named after the Shark River Slough: the very river of grass that makes the Everglades so famous. The water of the Shark River comes primarily from Lake Okeechobee, and since there’s water in the area even in the dry season, animals tend to congregate here.