E is for Everglades National Park Tram Tour

Ranger Led Program in Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, Fla.
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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Jenn

Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, SoloTravelGirl.com with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

8 thoughts on “E is for Everglades National Park Tram Tour

  1. 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.

  2. 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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