Monday, January 23, 2012

Shark Valley–Everglades National Park…

Great Blue Heron - forked tongue

We left Key West, Florida bright and early Sunday morning and were on the road north by 7:30 am. We wanted to leave early enough to visit Shark Valley in the Everglades National Park. We had heard about a wonderful bike ride there and American Alligatorsince we had brought our bikes along, we decided to  enjoy a nice ride on an exquisitely warm, sunny day.

Driving north through the Florida Keys is always enjoyable as you travel over many bridges offering views of expansive blue water. The water, with many different hues stretches from horizon to horizon only interrupted by mottes of mangroves and occasional sail boats. It is about 120 miles from Key West to when you finally leave the Keys and enter the town of Homestead Florida. With no traffic on this sunny morning we made the 120 miles in little less than 3 hours.

Purple Gallinule

Gassing up in Homestead since fuel is more expensive on the Keys we continued on towards the Everglades National Park. A visit to the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Sharon and alligatorWe saw the sign to Shark Valley and as is typical on weekends, the park’s parking lot was already full and cars were parked along the state highway. We found a spot and parked, took the bikes off of the bike rack and rode to the pay station where we flashed our Nation Parks Pass, saving us the $5.00 per head entry fee.

The bike trail is a 15 mile paved road with no hills to climb or rough terrain to traverse making for a nice 2 or 3 hour ride. We know this now after having done the loop but when we first arrived we planned to ride 1-2 hours around what I recalled was a 6 mile loop… ooops!!!

Great Blue Heron Observation TowerTricolored Heron

The first half of the loop was teeming with various birds and oodles of alligators. We stopped for many photo opportunities but eventually made it to an observation tower just short of halfway on the loop trail. It was then that I began to suspect the bike trail was closer to 9 miles… Not to be deterred we went up the tower to look over the expanse that is the Everglades…

Baby GatorWe continued on the trail which I assumed to be about the same distance as the first part only to discover it wasn’t as it meandered back and forth along the marsh lands. The first half of the trail had been a straight shot to the tower so as time passed we both started to get a bit tired and cranky. Because we didn’t eat lunch before we began the ride, this may have attributed to some of the crankiness along with the extra 3-4 miles of unplanned riding we undertook…


Nonetheless we made our way back and our CRV was still waiting for us so we loaded the bikes and continued down the road for the final three hours to Seminole RV Campground. We got our motorhome out of storage and took it over to site 65 to set up our home. We will stay here for one month and then slowly trek onward toward the western USA… We both might need the time to recover from the long day it took getting here…


  1. You captured some fantastic pictures. Enjoy your rest after yesterday's big adventure.

  2. Looks like a great bike trail. I would love that. I have a little pack on my bike and we always carry snacks and water because you never know what you'll find along the way that you want to stop and checkout. That ride is definitely going on my bucket list. I love that first photo.

  3. We hope to make it down there next winter and spend a day there. Love the photo of the baby gator.

  4. Long, but definitely beautiful and worthwhile!

  5. Hi. We stayed at Flamingo, in the Everglades, for two nights. I can't agree more that it should be on everyone's bucket list to spend some time in this wonderful nature land.

    I love reading about other people's experiences in the places we visited, particularly when you have more time to see and enjoy than we did. We just skimmed the surface.


  6. This sure does look like a wonderful way to spend the winter! Folks out west don't always have an image of what an amazing wildlife wonderland Florida is. Love that paved, flat bike trail, looks perfect!

  7. We hope to be spending a couple of weeks down there in a few days and this is definitely on our list. GREAT pictures!! Thanks for the inspiration.


  8. Yup ... a drop in sugar blood will increase crankiness ... I have first hand proof of that :-)

  9. We have forgotten food and water on more than one occasion, and I'm the one that gets the "crankies". We are trying harder to be better prepared. Congrats on making it to the end! That trail is a 15 mile trail from what we understand when we did it.

  10. You two have the most amazing pictures I have ever seen! What a wonderful bike trail. Thanks for sharing you wonderful time!

  11. Hey! At least it was a flat 15 miles. Great pictures, especially the baby alligator on its mother's back.

  12. Wonderful pictures. Like the others, I especially enjoyed the photo of the baby alligator. Get some rest!!

  13. That is a great place, we have been there a number of times and always enjoy it:)