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Want to know if Anhinga Trail or Shark Valley is better?
Shark Valley and Anhinga Trail are two of the best things to do in Everglades National Park but now you may be wondering which is better if you can only do one.
Well, I’m here to help you decide in the ultimate Everglades Showdown: Anhinga Trail vs. Shark Valley.
It’s actually pretty hard to compare Shark Valley and Anhinga Trail because they’re so different (which I mention a lot) but I did my best in here. I will say now, no matter which you choose, it will be great.
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.
Anhinga Trail vs Shark Valley Showdown
This is the part where I break down all the differences between Anhinga Trail and Shark Valley to help you decide which one is right for you on your visit to Everglades National Park.
And I would just like to say now, I love Anhinga Trail and Shark Valley and would gladly see both again.
(Unrelated side note: it took every ounce of self-control to not finish up that sentence with the Just Lose it lyrics).
Is Anhinga Trail or Shark Valley better for wildlife?
We’re starting off with a tough one. Both Anhinga Trail and Shark Valley are really good for seeing wildlife.
We saw plenty of alligators (big and baby) and birds on both but we also saw turtles and a snake (being eaten by birds) in Shark Valley which was pretty cool.
I want to give this one to Shark Valley but I’m going to call it a tie, with a caveat.
If you’re biking Shark Valley, then I would say that wins since you’ll be able to take your time and enjoy the wildlife. You’d still see some on the tram tour but you wouldn’t be able to stop for everything or have extra time to hopefully see more.
If you’re not biking Shark Valley, then Anhinga wins because it’s easy to get to and a great short hike that anyone can do.
Is Shark Valley or Anhinga Trail cheaper?
Whichever you choose, you’ll have to pay the park entrance fee ($30, but a national park pass will get you in).
Both trails are technically free, but Shark Valley almost requires another payment while Anhinga Trail has no extra cost.
Anhinga Trail wins this one because while you can just walk the 15-mile Shark Valley Loop, most people don’t so you’ll either have to rent bikes or pay for a tram tour.
The national park pass won’t cover bike rentals or tram tours. Additionally, you can bring your own bike which would add any extra cost.
Is Anhinga Trail or Shark Valley better for hiking?
This is an easy one for me. While Shark Valley has two small hiking trails and the main loop, I don’t think it’s great for hiking, especially for the average visitor. It’s better for biking or the tram.
Anhinga Trail wins this one for sure. It’s less than a mile round-trip and you can also hike the Gumbo Limbo Trail here if you want. We did both but Anhinga twice and I loved it.
Is Shark Valley or Anhinga Trail better for kids?
This one is mostly easy but, like before, there are a couple of exceptions. Generally, I would give this one to Anhinga Trail.
It’s a short trail, it’s easy, and it’s great for seeing wildlife fairly close. I don’t have kids so I don’t know what kids can/like to hike, but that also highly depends on each kid. So generally, Anhinga.
That said, if you and your family are biking enthusiasts and 15 miles is nothing for you, then Shark Valley. We’re not biking enthusiasts but 15 miles was enough for us so I would really emphasize regular biking enthusiasts here. Plus there’s no shade and it will be hot.
If your kid likes train type things, the tram tour could be fun for them. Plus they’d get to see the observation tower, which is cool.
Is Anhinga Trail or Shark Valley better for biking?
This is an easy one because you can only bike at one of them: Shark Valley! While Anhinga trail won the hiking round, it didn’t stand a chance here.
Was this added as an easy point for Shark Valley? Maybe. But it’s also just good to know bikes aren’t allowed on the Anhinga Trail.
Is Shark Valley or Anhinga Trail better from Everglades City?
While Anhinga Trail is near the entrance of Everglades National Park, it’s still further from Everglades City which is in southwest Florida, not southeast.
Shark Valley wins this round as it’s just 47 minutes from Everglades City compared to the Anhinga Trail which is two hour.
Is Shark Valley or Anhinga Trail better from Miami?
I thought for sure this was an easy win for Anhinga Trail but it’s actually Shark Valley! That said, it’s only a ten minute difference so it’s a close win.
Shark Valley is just 55 minutes from Miami while Anhinga Trail is 1 hour 5 minutes. That said, depending on where exactly you’re staying, it could be different.
Is Anhinga Trail or Shark Valley better with a short amount of time?
This one is definitely easy. If you’re just stopping at the Shark Valley Visitor Center, that won’t take long, but a good visit there will take 1-2 hours minimum.
Anhinga Trail wins this round as you’ll probably only need 15-30 minutes to hike the trail. Maybe a little more if you stop a lot or do Gumbo Limbo as well, but an hour here would be a lot, I think.
Is Shark Valley or Anhinga Trail better in summer?
I want to say neither but I’m making myself pick one and I’m picking Anhinga Trail because it’s shorter.
Facing the sun and bugs and humidity on the 15 mile Shark Valley Loop in the summer sounds truly awful.
But honestly, I would avoid both in the summer, the park in general in the summer. If it’s your only chance to visit in the summer, take it, but be prepared for heat, humidity, and mosquitos.
Is Anhinga Trail or Shark Valley longer?
If you haven’t figured it out by now, Shark Valley is much longer than Anhinga Trail so Shark Valley wins this one.
Anhinga Trail is just 0.8 miles round-trip which Shark Valley is 15 miles round-trip. There are two short trails at Shark Valley you can do instead of the big loop, too.
Is Shark Valley or Anhinga Trail busier?
Shark Valley can be busy and the parking does fill up in the late morning/mid-day in the winter but Anhinga Trail is probably the most popular hike in the park.
Even though Shark Valley parking fills up, I think it feels less busy since most of those people are probably taking tram tours.
Of course some of those people are biking and walking, too, but people are spread out enough for it to not feel busy.
So Anhinga Trail is busier making Shark Valley the winner here when it comes to avoiding crowds.
Is Anhinga Trail or Shark Valley better in winter?
Hmm, I know I made myself pick one for summer but I make the rules here and I’m calling this one a tie because winter is the best time to be here.
If you’re visiting Everglades in the winter and only can do one of these for whatever reason, I’d us the other criteria to decide which is best for you.
So, which is better, Shark Valley or Anhinga Trail?
Well. In all my showdown posts I’ve never had a tie. But here we are. An official tie between Anhinga Trail and Shark Valley.
And that might actually be for the best because they’re two totally different places, both entirely worth visiting if you can swing it.
I truly loved both and would gladly do both again in the future. You really can’t go wrong with whichever one you choose.
And if you can, I would highly recommend biking the Shark Valley Loop if you’re able. It was a really great way to experience the area and thankfully it’s all flat.
Where to stay near Everglades National Park
Florida City – Quality Inn
We stayed at the Quality Inn when we visited and while it’s not fancy, it wasn’t bad and I’d stay there again because of it’s proximity to the park.
Breakfast is included and they have a pool (heated, in winter I assume) and there is laundry available.
Homestead – Courtyard by Marriott
If you want somewhere a little nicer than the Quality Inn but not as fancy as below, this is a great alternative close to the park entrance. They have a pool, restaurant, and bar, plus breakfast at an extra charge.
Key Largo – Largo Resort
A little under an hour from the park entrance is the Largo Resort in Key Largo. It is a much nicer option than the first two.
They have a private beach area, a pool, and a garden plus bike rentals, canoeing, fishing, and beach chairs.
Miami – The Elser Hotel
This is a nicer option a bit further away than Florida City and Homestead (an hour) right in Miami. It has a terrace, pool, and private parking.
Rooms have a seating area, kitchen, and dining area with beautiful city views and a balcony. They also have a restaurant on site.