Shark Valley in Everglades National Park – Tram Tour, Bike Trail and Observation Platform

The Shark Valley region of Everglades National Park contains the Shark Valley visitor center, an observation platform, the Shark Valley tram tour and a 15 mile bike trail. Shark Valley is located 30 miles west of Miami off the Tamiami Trail (US Highway 41), on the northern border of the park at the head of the Shark River Slough.

Shark Valley Tram Tour

The Shark Valley tram tour in Everglades National Park is the highlight of this section of the park for many people. It takes visitors on a guided tour to the observation platform and back, with the guide pointing out wildlife and wilderness features along the way.

We took the Shark Valley tram tour a few years back when we were on our way from Orlando to Key West to see Dry Tortugas National Park. The alternative to the tram tour to see this area of the Everglades is to bike or walk – neither of which was a particularly pleasing option in the heat of the South Florida sun in June when we were there.

We learned a tremendous amount about the area while on the park, much more than we would have learned and saw without the assistance of the guide. The one drawback of the tour is that there is so much to see and learn that it moves pretty quickly. It makes stops for wildlife and other attractions, but unlike a self-guided tour, you do not really have the option of getting off and spending more time in any area that captures your fascination. The stop for the observation tower, for example, is long enough to enjoy the views from the top and use the bathroom, but not so long that you do not feel a bit rushed.

During the busy winter season, the tram tour departs hourly. During the summer and fall, there are four tours daily. The cost is $27 per adult, $21 for Seniors and $14 for children (ages 3-12)

Shark Valley Bike Rental

If you do not want to pay to take the tram tour, consider bringing your own bicycle. You can also rent one at the Shark Valley Visitor Center for $9 per hour. There is a self-guided bicycle tour along the 15-mile paved road. The ride typically takes 2-3 hours with stops. Bike rentals are available at Shark Valley between 8:30 AM and 4 PM, with an additional hour (by 5 PM) for their return to the office. They require a driver’s license or ID to rent a bike.

Shark Valley Visitor Center

In addition to the bike rental and tram tour, the Visitor Center contains snacks, a number of educational display, informational brochures and a park video about the area to watch.

Observation Tower

Shark Valley has a 45 foot high observation deck which provides tremendous views of the surrounding area. The top section of the tower is closed to visitors, however. It was completed in November 1964 as part of Mission 66 (one of two structures in the park as part of that project which also included the Flamingo Visitor Center).

Why is it called Shark Valley?

Shark Valley is a low-lying area of land in the park that contains the primary freshwater source to the Everglades, the Shark River Slough. The Shark River Slough is also known as the River of Grass, flowing slowly through the central portion of the Everglades to the southwest toward the Shark River (a 9.5 mile long river draining into Ponce de Leon Bay) and the Gulf of Mexico.

How much does Shark Valley cost?

The Shark Valley entrance fee is the same as the entrance fee for any other area of Everglades National Park. You can either show your annual park pass or pay a fee of $30 per vehicle. The park fee is good for entrance at other locations throughout the park within seven (7) days.

What is there to do in Shark Valley?

The observation deck, bike trail and the tram tour are the most popular things to do in the Shark Valley section of the park.

Are there sharks in the Everglades?

Sharks usually prefer coastal waters. However, bull sharks and a few other varieties of sharks have been found in the Everglades.