The Everglades gained status as a National Park in 1934 because of its unique subtropical eco-system and the habitat it provides for endangered species. No visit to South Florida is complete without a visit to these world renowned wetlands. Wildlife is the main attraction. Although it is most famous for alligators, the park is also home to the Florida Panther and the West Indian Manatee and teems with fish, birds, reptiles, insects and mammals.
The Shark Valley Entrance
The closest access to the Everglades from Miami Beach and Newport Beachside Hotel & Resort is located on Highway 41 (the Tamiami Trail) 25 miles west of the Florida Turnpike exit for S.W. 8th Street. It’s about 55 miles and an hour’s drive from the resort.
Shark Valley Visitor Center
Shark Valley Loop Rd, Miami, FL 33194
Technically, the Everglades is not a swamp, but a very slow, meandering river. This section of the Park, known as the “True Everglades” or “River of Grass”, is a fresh-water ecosystem stretching 100 miles from Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico. Opportunities for wildlife viewing draw visitors here from all over the world.
The Shark Valley Visitor Center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day of the year. Operating hours vary by season, but generally include the hours of 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. You may call them at 305-221-8776 for more information.
Shark Valley Trails
The Shark Valley Trails all begin at the Visitor Center.
Otter Hammock Cave trail is a rough limestone path through the tropical hardwood forest and is one-half mile round trip.
The Bobcat Boardwalk Trail is a wheelchair accessible, one mile round trip self-guided nature walk.
The Tram Road – 15 miles round trip- is a flat, wide, paved road ideal for strolling or bike riding. Bike rentals are available. Guided tram tours use this loop road. You can make arrangements to join a group at the visitor center. Halfway along the road is an observation tower which offers panoramic views of the area.
Other Park Areas
The park covers about 1.5 million acres of southern Florida and there are many opportunities to explore it. To learn more about fishing, airboat tours, canoeing, camping and other activities, please visit the Everglades National Park website. The central phone number for visitor information is (305) 242-7700 and the main park address is 40001 State Road 9336 Homestead, Florida 33034-6733