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LOOKING TO BIKE SHARK VALLEY IN THE EVERGLADES?
On this year’s Big Cypress trip we ended up extending it by like four or five days because we were loving it so much.
It was also a year of new hikes here, which was exciting! I was also able to cross off biking Shark Valley in Everglades National Park off my national park bucket list!
And Shark Valley bike trail might have even made Everglades my favorite east coast national park! But to be fair it was pretty high on that list anyway.
Travel Services I Recommend:
AllTrails – This is my favorite hike tracking app.
America the Beautiful – The national park pass is essential.
Booking.com – This is great for finding and booking hotels.
Get Your Guide – I recommend Get Your Guide for booking tours.
National Park Obsessed – This is the best national park planner.
Skyscanner – Skyscanner is great for finding and booking flights.
Enterprise – This is my rental car recommendation.
See all my resources here.
One day while we were there I randomly decided to see how far it was to Shark Valley from Everglades City and was pleasantly surprised that it was under an hour. We didn’t go that day but saved it for that Monday, I think so it wouldn’t be as busy.
This turned out to be a great decision! There was no line to get into the park and there was plenty of parking available.
I didn’t do any research about how to see Shark Valley before going (shocking, I know) so when we got there we realized there are just two hiking trails, tram tours, and bike rentals.
Our experience biking Shark Valley
We’ve never rented bikes anywhere as our way of seeing a park but figured why not while were here. And I’m so glad we did!
This was such a fun way to see this part of the park and while we may not have gotten all the info you’d get on a tram tour, it was still great being able to go at our own pace.
We got our bright yellow bikes and off we went! Just after we passed the second hiking trail, we saw two gators right on the side of the trail and met some nice folks from Minnesota.
There were a few people just walking at the this part since it wasn’t far from the visitor center but shortly after we only saw a few other bikers, which were still pretty few and far between.
There were a few more gators along the side but a couple miles in we saw the cutest little baby gator ever hiding in the grass!
The tiny baby gators are my absolute favorite to see and I will watch them for like five minutes every time even though they’re probably not even doing anything. They’re just so cute!
When my parents came to visit in March, we went to the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and saw like, five or six tiny baby gators together and ugh! I LOVE THEM!
But back to biking Shark Valley, it’s what you’re here for after all. The Shark Valley road is 15 miles round-trip and the first side to the observation tower is seven straight miles. Like seven miles of flat straight as a pin road.
The second half, or just over half, is eight miles but its wavy, if that makes sense. It’s still flat but it’s like a squiggly line. I liked that side a lot more and it went by faster.
The first half was just dragging. They have the miles marked on the road and they felt like the longest miles ever. It was still enjoyable but the other side was better.
Finally we made it to the observation tower right as a tram tour was leaving. Perfect timing! There were a couple of other people up there but it’s wasn’t super busy.
By this point, I was wishing we didn’t have eight miles left because these are not comfortable bikes but what could we do. Just keep going.
So, off we went again, down the wiggly side. This side was much more exciting as far as wildlife goes. Scenery was pretty similar though.
We managed to see more gators (not tiny babies), a purple gallinule (my second favorite Florida bird), a garter snake, a turtle, and an ibis having a snake for lunch! That was really cool to see, even if it was a bummer for the snake.
It was more just carrying the snake around, dropping it, picking it up, and trying to keep it from the other birds. It’s definitely not something you see everyday though.
By the last couple of miles on the wiggly side I was so ready to be done because I was getting fried.
We forgot to bring sunscreen and didn’t think about it until we were already on the trail. Don’t do what I did, wear sunscreen here! You will get fried!
Also, make sure to drink lots of water. By the time we turned the bikes in, I was ready for a nap but we had our drive back to Everglades City ahead of us.
Overall I’m really glad we did this! It’s not something we would usually do but it was really fun and we got to see lots of wildlife, which I love to see in Florida.
I would definitely recommend biking Shark Valley if you’re in the area and like biking and Florida scenery.
I will say, if you don’t like biking long distances and don’t care for Florida prairies, this probably isn’t the activity for you.
The scenery doesn’t really change but it’s a good way to experience Everglades National Park with smaller crowds.
National Park Goodies
- If you’re planning to visit three or more national parks within a year from your trip, definitely get the America the Beautiful pass. It will save you money in the long run if you’re going to more than three parks in a year. Buy the pass here.
- If you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking on your trip, or even at home, check out AllTrails! This is my favorite app to find, keep track of, and track my hiking activity. And it’s FREE! Sign up here.
- This Ultimate National Park Planning Bundle is a must-have. You get two ebooks and a planner, saving 50% by getting them as a bundle! If you want all the details, this is the bundle for you. Buy the Ultimate bundle here.
- This National Park Planner (one of the ebooks from the bundle above) is perfect if you just want some guidance in your planning. Buy the planner here.
- Get yourself a National Park journal for all of the NPS sites (400+!) to keep track of your travels!
- Consider reading some of these books set in national parks before your big trip, on your adventure, or once you get home to take you back to the parks until next time.
Where is the Shark Valley bike trail?
The Shark Valley visitor center is on the Tamiami Trail and about 50 minutes from Miami, 1 hour 50 minutes from the Flamingo visitor center, and 50 minutes from Everglades City.
If you’re camping in Big Cypress, the Monument Lake Campground would be a good choice that’s a little closer to Shark Valley.
How much is it to visit Shark Valley in the Everglades?
The park entrance fee is $30 per vehicle but your national park pass will get you in, too.
There’s an additional fee for tram tours and bike rentals. If you’re not biking or doing a tram tour, it’s not worth the entrance fee.
Can you rent bikes at Shark Valley?
Yes! You can bring your own bike to Shark Valley or you can rent them there for $20 per bike for the day.
They’re not super fancy bikes but they have a basket so you can bring stuff without having to wear a backpack which is nice.
You can reserve them online here or you can just get them at the visitor center. I don’t think it’s guaranteed that they’ll have them there since it is first-come, first-served.
Can I bring my own bike to Shark Valley?
You sure can! And if you have a way to get it there, I would definitely do that. The rental seats are not comfy.
Are ebikes allowed at Shark Valley?
Yes! Ebikes are allowed at Shark Valley with a speed limit of 15 MPH on the Shark Valley Tram Road. Fully electronic bikes that don’t require peddling are not allowed.
How long is the Shark Valley bike trail?
The Shark Valley road is 15 miles but you can only see it by walking, biking, or taking a tram tour. You cannot drive the Shark Valley road in your own car!
If you’re biking to the observation tower, just do the whole loop. It’s only one extra mile and that side was my favorite and where we saw the most variety in wildlife!
How long does Shark Valley bike trail take?
I would plan for 3-5 hours to bike Shark Valley. That’s for biking the whole thing but it will also depend on how much time you spend at the observation tower, how fast you bike, and how often you stop for wildlife.
Is Shark Valley bike trail safe?
Yes! While you may encounter an alligator on the Shark Valley bike trail, they’ll leave you alone as long as you leave them alone.
Try to keep a 10-15 foot distance if you do encounter any. Just use common sense if you encounter any. Don’t touch them, don’t feed them, and leave the babies alone.
Shark Valley observation tower
The Shark Valley observation tower is the halfway point of the Shark Valley bike trail and highlight of this area of the park.
How tall is the Shark Valley observation tower?
The Shark Valley observation tower is 70 feet high, the highest point in the park that you can reach by foot!
Can you drive to the Shark Valley observation tower?
Nope! You can only get to the Shark Valley observation tower by tram, bike, or foot. But walking would take forever so I’d pick tram or bike.
Are there stairs at the Shark Valley observation tower?
Mostly no, but there is a small spiral staircase to the very top. Most of it is just a round, spiral ramp to the top where you’re rewarded with views for up to 20 miles!
What to bring biking Shark Valley?
Hiking poles – These will be helpful on longer hikes that are on the steeper side. They’ll be good if you have bad knees for when you’re going downhill and will give you something to lean on going up the hills.
Sunscreen – If you plan on being outside, you’ll want sunscreen. I like the Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch a lot AND it’s reef safe! If you’re sensitive to fragrance though, it’s not a good choice. I also like the same one but specifically for your face.
Sunglasses – This is a must no matter where you are.
Headlamp – I tend to carry my headlamp around all the time when we’re hiking, just in case.
Is biking Shark Valley worth it?
Absolutely! I don’t bike very often and this was a spontaneous decision when we got there but I’m so glad we did it!
It was a fun way to experience the park that was different than how we usually visit (which is hiking). I would definitely add it to your Florida bucket list.
If you’re not a huge biker or don’t like biking all that much, maybe skip it. Or, if you’re not used to biking longer distances or just like biking shorter distances, maybe skip it.
Once we got to the last couple miles I was ready to be done. It was hot and sunny (definitely wear sunscreen if you do this, I got sooo burned!) and bring lots of water.
The first few miles also felt a little slow because that side is straight but the way back is wavier but still flat, so it had some variety.
I will say, the scenery doesn’t vary much, so if you’re not a fan of looking at Florida prairies, this may not be the activity for you. A Shark Valley tram tour might be better.
Wildlife in Shark Valley
- Garter snakes
Best time to bike Shark Valley
The best time to bike Shark Valley will be in the winter, on a weekday, when it opens at 8:30, or at least by 10 AM. This way you can avoid weekend crowds and overflowing parking.
If you can’t go on a weekday or right when it opens, you’ll probably be fine but may have to deal with the parking overflow.
Once the parking lot is full they only let a car in as one leaves. I remember driving by it the first time and seeing tons of cars parked along the highway.
I would 100% skip biking Shark Valley in the summer though. Way to hot and way too many bugs.
Shark Valley hours
The Shark Valley entrance gate is open from 8:30 AM to 6 PM and the visitor center is open from 9 AM to 5 PM. Bikes can be rented. Bikes can be rented between 8:30 AM and 4 PM but are due back by 5 PM.
Where to stay in Everglades City
Ivey House – We stayed here one night and I really liked it. It calls itself a bed and breakfast but it’s really just a hotel. It’s cute though and I’d stay again.
Everglades Adventures Hotel Suites – This is run by Ivey House and looks nice and new. I would like to stay here sometime.
Captain’s Table Hotel – If you want no frills and budget, this is your best bet. We spent almost a week here at an Airbnb in the hotel and it’s not fancy at all, and the room was small, but it got the job done without costing a fortune.
Camping near Everglades City
Big Cypress and Collier Seminole State Park are the best places to camp near Everglades City but I have an entire post on camping in Big Cypress that will help you find the right campground for you.
Final thoughts on the Shark Valley bike trail
I loved biking Shark Valley and I’m so glad we did it! I already liked Everglades National Park enough but this made me like it a lot more. It’s a fun way to see the park that’s a little different than usual.
Have you done the Shark Valley bike trail? Do you want to? What is your favorite thing to do in Everglades National Park?