Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Photographing Birds in the Everglades: Shark Valley

Along route 41 (also called Tamiami Trail) is the north entrance into the Everglades and the Shark Valley Visitor Center. As you pull into the drive to the Visitor Center you will see a canal to you right and maybe see birds or alligators there. Leaving from the parking area is a fifteen miles (round trip) one-way paved road out into the Everglades. Seven and one-half miles out there is a tall observation tower which gives an excellent view of the structure of this wonderful marsh. You can hike the trail, bicycle the trail (bring your own or rent at the visitor center), or take a guided tram ride. The tram ride is excellent; one the ride they discuss the origins and maintenance of the Everglades and stop and point out wildlife as they encounter it. It is well worth the cost. I have been
here a number of times and still take the tram ride each time. You can also stay around the Visitor Center a photograph along the tram road or along short trails in the area.

After your visit, if time permits when you leave drive west for a few miles. You will soon enter Big Cypress National Preserve. This area is a true swamp with deep water and large cypress trees as the main vegetation. A visit to the Visitor Center will help you to understand that the Everglades is a marsh while the preserve is a swamp. There is also loop road which will take you through Big Cypress for more photographic opportunities.

Also along Tamiami Trail are various vendors offering air-boat rides, gift shops, and food.
The Everglades Visitor Centers offer only vending machines.

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