There are only two ways to travel the entire loop at Shark Valley: Take the tram tour or ride a bike. You could walk, I suppose, but it is over 14 miles, so would take a very long time. There are two other problems with this place. First, there is only room for two motorhomes to park. And second, there is often a long wait for trams--two hours on this day. Anyway, I knew about the parking situation, so I got there at 9:00 am and got one of the spots.
The tram tour costs $24 per adult, plus you have to pay the entrance fee to the National Park. Of course, if you are a senior like me, you get in free with your "Geezer Pass" and if you bring your own bike, as I did, the loop is free. So I spent exactly $0 for the day!
This shows where Shark Valley is located.
And this shows you the loop. I took the same route the tram takes, starting out on the curvy eastern road.
This is the tram loading area, very early in the morning, so I left before the first tram. There was a ranger in a pickup that passed me, so I assume he was checking the road since the past night.
It was warm and muggy, but there was a gorgeous breeze. In fact, since I was riding against the wind, it would have been very hard for me to pedal. Did I mention that I LOVE my electric bike? Actually, I was a bit worried about running out of battery power since it was struggling so much. But the wind really felt marvelous, and being miles out on the trail by yourself is great!
This is Marjory Stoneman Douglas's famous "River of Grass" described in her book by the same name. If you have never read it, shame! Here is the Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Everglades-River-Marjory-Stoneman-Douglas/dp/1539990729/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481085430&sr=1-2&keywords=river+of+grass
Still no other bikers. I had the place to myself. No alligators on this part of the road, by the way, because while there is water, it is not very deep.
This fellow was about to take off because he did not like my company.
After a half-hour of having the road to myself, here comes the tram.
In the far distance, you can see the tower in the middle of this photo.
There are rest rooms here and a drinking fountain, and that is about it. No ranger when I was there. I followed the tram and arrived at about the same time as it did, but I found a bench and sat for a while after it left. There were only about 6 people on a tram that probably holds 50.
Took this telephoto of a yellow-bellied turtle below the tower. This photo was taken from the top of the tower, so it shows how good the telephoto is on my new camera!
And a view of the straight side of the loop back to the visitor center. At this point, I was REALLY glad I had an electric bike.
No traffic, to say the least.
On the way back, there was a ditch along one side of the road, so alligators were hauling out to warm up in the sun. Mostly, they just laid there, but I tried to stay the required 15 feet away, at least when I was off my bike. You could not help but ride by a lot closer.
This guy was just resting, but it seemed strange that he had his mouth open. Maybe he was just showing off his teeth. He was not moving or threatening me at all.
Another gator resting on the pavement because it is warm and he wants to get his body temperature up.
White egret is fishing and looks like he has found something.
I probably spent a good two hours on my ride, and it was good to get back to my motorhome, put my bike on the back and get something out of the refrigerator to drink! Taking your home with you does have its advantages and one is being home wherever you are.