FLORIDA TRIP - Shark Valley: Part I, Everglades NP – A Spectacular Bike Ride -- Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Nancy here...
I am FINALLY getting this blog posted.  I have broke it into 3 parts...just TOO many great photos not to post them.  I know not everyone enjoys all the pictures, but this is our history and we want to have it all right there when we have to do our traveling from our rocking chairs.  You know..."Remember when we did this and that and the other thing."  Without the pictures, we may not remember!!   (Be sure to click on photos to enlarge)
Part I - The Trail,   Part II - The Birds,  Part III - The Alligators

We were up early and on the road before 7:30am driving east on the Tamiami Trail. We were headed to Shark Valley, part of Everglades National Park. It is a nature preserve with a 15 mile loop road into the Everglades. You can walk, ride a bike or take a guided tram ride. We arrived a couple minutes prior to the 8:30am opening.
The ranger opened the gate on time and our Senior National Park Passport allowed us to enter at NO CHARGE. The entry fee is $10 – same cost as Bill’s Senior Passport – therefore, the pass has already paid for itself and we have a lifetime of use ahead of us!!
Early arrival is a GOOD thing!

We were on our bikes before 9am and one of the first people on the loop.

The 15 miles loop took us about 3 ½ hours as we were constantly stopping to view and photograph all the alligators and birds. Nancy snapped a ton of pictures. It really is nature – up close and personal. There is a small canal along the loop road and the alligators and birds are right there…almost close enough to touch.
We interrupted the Birdy Conference!

Occasionally we were surprised by an alligator hiding in the taller grass right on the edge of the path!!
This one was not happy with Bill...he (the gator, not Bill) was hissy and beginning to show his teeth!! Moving right along...

Peddling towards the Tower

At the halfway point of the loop, there is an observation tower that gives you a 360 degree view of the everglades.
 View of cyclist on tram road.

 Tram in the distance.

Information posters at the top of the tower.

Since we hadn’t had breakfast, we ate our packed lunch while we were at the Tower.

It’s truly amazing how many alligators you see along the route, particularly the first half. We will have to spend some time learning the names of all the birds. I know the names of a few: Ibis, Heron, Egret, Woodpecker and my personal favorite the Vulture.

We arrived back at the parking lot around 12:30…there was not a parking place to be found. Glad we arrived early and had the loop basically to ourselves. Before we left, we did go to the information office and get Bill’s National Park Passport stamped. If you are ever in this area, be sure to visit Shark Valley. They rent bikes or you can bring your own. It is the very best bike ride and nature experience EVER!!

On the way back to the campground, we stopped at the Oasis Visitor Center for Big Cypress National Preserve. We watched a 25 minute film about the preserve and also inquired about the camping facilities within the preserve. There are two RV campgrounds: Monument Lake (no hook-ups) and Midway (electric only). They are on a first-come-first-serve basis, no reservations. With the Senior Passport it would only cost $8 or $10 a night. There are no shower facilities, but they are in a great location. We could see coming back to spend much more time in this area once we are full-timing!!

As we were leaving the visitor center, we walked the boardwalk which parallels Rt. 41, The Tamiami Trail. We were talking with the park ranger when we saw a Cambridge 5th wheel coming down the highway. Sure enough, it was Howard Payne of RV-Dreams moving the rig to Midway Campground! Lucky guys…enjoy your time here!!

We were tired when we got back to the campground. So we got a cup of coffee and sat outside to enjoy some more of this beautiful 82 degree weather. It was another wonderful vacation day!


  1. This is a GREAT post you guys. Really gives us the itch to be down there with you on the trail. Wonder how late in the year one could camp there for the fabulous sum of $10 a night and not be eatien alive by the bugs?

    Keep on keepin on....I'm loving reading about your days.

  2. Glad you guys got to do Shark Valley. Are the gators still hanging around the bike racks checking out possibilities for lunch?

  3. Roger and Diane,
    Yes, the gators are still at the bike rack... the Gators are everywhere... It is an amazing and wonderful place to visit. We loved the Everglades and will return for a much longer stay. Our kind of place...in the winter!!

    Hope you both are doing well. We've been thinking about you. Hope things are getting better. Hopefully, time heals!

  4. Bill and Nancy a very nice blog here. Excellent photos. I was fortunate to visit and bike Shark Valley Visitor Center in August 2011. A fantastic place and the tower was incredible. A great historic structure. Too bad the U.S. government has not kept it up at all. A little TLC would go a long way. Still a great trip here. I bicycle paved trails and shoot video. Just Google 'Trail View Mount' to see more of my work. Take care and all the best.