We've been meaning to update on our free Shark Valley adventure for some time now but have been too busy for posting. As previously mentioned, we visited Shark Valley for free (June 18), thanks to the National Park Service free weekends. The NPS announced earlier this year that during the summer they would conduct “free park weekends” to more than 100 parks around America. August 15-16 are the last dates to take advantage of this freebie so plan now.
If you take a look at our title for this blog post, we have added the Take II because this is our second trip to Shark Valley. Back in February (see Feb. post for pics), we visited the park but never reached the final point since we overestimated our skills and preparedness. Completing Shark Valley includes, close encounters to wildlife animals, a 15 mile loop of the park, and a spectacular view from an observation tower that offers a panoramic view of the Everglades. Exploring this park can be done either on bike (they provide rentals or bring your own), on a tram tour with a tour guide ($20 p/person), or on foot (OUCH!). This time, we came prepared with our bike cruisers, sun screen, lunch, and plenty of water for our adventure.
Great Blue Heron
A fruit which I did not get the name of.
Some of our alligator sightings in all sizes.
The observation tower smack in the middle of the Everglades.
A poster at the top of the tower depicting Shark River and life for the Miccosukee Indians in the 1920's.
The long road back to the beginning.
The "river of grass" - without a building in site - goes on for miles and miles.
We also spotted a Red Bellied Turtle, an Everglades Racer, and Florida Gar but were not quick enough to reach for the camera. Also noted, we spotted more gators back in February than this time around. The heat outside was HOT, and we figured this is why the NPS has free weekends during the summer. But if you go prepared with plenty of fluids and early morning before the unbearable afternoon heat, then Shark Valley is a fun adventure and accomplishment. Pictures only say so much, so go out and experience it for yourself!