E is for Everglades National Park Tram Tour

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Shark Valley Tower, Everglades National Park, Fla.

Shark Valley Tower, Everglades National Park, Fla.

Say “Everglades” and people almost always associate it with rip-roaring airboat rides. Although airboats are prohibited in most of Everglades National Park, there are other ways to explore this bio-diverse natural treasure. Located less than an hour’s drive west of Miami in the northern part of the park off Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41) is Shark Valley. Visitors can hop aboard a guided two-hour tram tour deep into the Everglades to see first-hand why it’s called the “River of Grass.”

Everglades National Park Ranger Explains the River of Grass, Feb. 27, 2012

Everglades National Park Ranger Explains the River of Grass, Feb. 27, 2012

What Makes the Everglades Tick?

Everglades National Park was my home for several years yet, it’s taken me several years of being apart of this World Heritage Site to appreciate it. When my parents visited from Buffalo in February, we jaunted down to Shark Valley (just shy of a 3-hour drive from Port Charlotte) to become knee-deep in alligators.

Led by an extremely animated and energetic National Park Service Ranger, we spotted gator after gator after gator while learning about the park’s ecosystem. At one point during the trip, the tram stopped and the ranger kicked off her boots, rolled up her slacks and tromped into the Everglades. She picked up plants then showed us how the water was clear, meaning it was flowing like a river. A river of grass.

Birds strutted their stuff in full force. There were Anhinga, Ibis, Great Blue Herons, Little Green Herons, Cormorant, and my favorites, Roseate Spoonbill and American Wood Stork. Seeing a nest of Anhinga nursing its young was very sweet.

American Wood Storks and Roseatte Spoonbills in Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, Feb. 27, 2012

American Wood Storks and Roseate Spoonbills in Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, Feb. 27, 2012

Nuts & Bolts of Shark Valley Tram Tours

Tours are operated by a concession company and led by park service trained naturalists meaning, sometimes a National Park Service ranger will lead the trip and other times a trained concession employee will. The tour travels along a 15-mile loop road with a pit-stop at the 45-foot high observation tower where you can see out about 20 miles on a clear day.

For those who’d rather tour the loop road at their own pace, they can either bring or rent a bicycle to pedal along gators.

Snapping this Gator's Good Side, Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, Fla., Feb. 27, 2012

Snapping this Gator’s Good Side, Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, Fla., Feb. 27, 2012

Shark Valley Tram Tours
Tel: 305 221-8455
www.sharkvalleytramtours.com

Open daily with multiple tours a day. An adult tour is $19 with discounts for seniors and children. $10 National Park Service entry fee is additional. Advance reservations are strongly recommended during high-season (December through April)

This post is part of the 2012 Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Check back daily for a different letter!

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Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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6 Comments

  1. E is for Eileen, energy, Enjoy, Everglades, everlasting, enthusiastic, effortless, and did I say Eileen

  2. This is one of my dream vacations! I have never been to FL yet, but a friend of mine told me about this tour, and I’ve wanted to go ever since.

  3. I would love to do this!

  4. Indeed you need to get yourself to the Sunshine State and the Everglades, you’ll love it!

  5. What a great trip Jennifer! The Everglades is a beautiful national park with so much to see and experience. Tram tours and airboat rides are great methods of travel through the Everglades. It really requires multiple trips to get the full experience.

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