Starting Location: Parking lot at Shark Valley Visitors Center in Everglades Park. I asked yesterday why it is called Shark Valley and the park ranger said it was due to the fish hatcheries at the base of the Everglades where sharks feed.
Parking: There is a fee to get into the park and it is best to get there early as there is a limited amount of parking inside of the park. We saw a lot of people parking along the highway that leads into the park and then walking into the park. There was no place to park our bike trailer but our trailer can be folded up and pushed under our car so that we can park in a regular parking space.
Description: This is our second time here. The first time we only did the west side of the trail but this time we did the whole loop. The ride back along the east side of the trail was brutal due to a strong winds out of the north.
The water level at the park was at an all time high. All the walking trails except for one were closed due to them being under water. There were very few gators or birds this time. On the plus side lots of big fish and turtles swimming right next to the bike trail in super clear water. Wearing polarized sunglasses allows you to see easily all the way to the bottom. They said the lack of gators and birds were due to the water being so high and there being very little dry ground for them.
Bike Rentals Availability: Visitors without their own bicycles may rent them from the rental area for $8.00/hour on a first come-first serve basis. A driver’s license or I.D. will be required for a deposit on rental bikes. All the rentals are single gear, coaster brake type bicycles with adjustable seats to accommodate different heights. Baskets and helmets are also available for all rental bikes. In addition, there are some 20″ children’s bikes, and several bikes available with child seats for children of 35 pounds or less. Bicycle rentals begin at 8:30 a.m. and may be rented until 4:00 p.m. Rental bikes must be returned to the rental office by 5:00 p.m.
Amenities: Vending machines with snacks and drinks at the visitors’ center. Public restrooms, the kind that are just holes in the ground without running water at the parking area. Public restrooms, with flushing toilets are located at the observation tower. Water fountains are at the visitors’ center and at the observation tower. Books, postcards, and other souvenirs are available in the gift shop.
They are in the processes of building a new visitors’ center that we were told would be much nicer. The construction has eliminated about a third of the already too small parking area. Don’t know if more parking will be provided once the new visitors’ center is completed.