03 Sep Exploring the Everglades: By Airboat and Tram
The Everglades cover a large portion of Florida’s southern half and are a stark contrast to the perfectly groomed cities nearby. Teeming with wildlife and rugged landscapes, the Everglades are home to alligators, a large variety of birds, fish, frogs, turtles and so much more.
One of our recent video projects brought us back to Florida to do some exploring in the Everglades. We’ve been to the Everglades many times throughout the years, and one of our favorite airboat ride is at Sawgrass Recreation Park a short drive from Ft. Lauderdale. The airboat setup is nice–yes, you do have to sit in direct sunlight even if it’s scorching hot outside, but it is much better than sitting in a covered airboat that makes you feel like you are roasting in a stuffy tin can. I prefer the breeze and open views that are offered in a boat like this.
I’ve written about Sawgrass Recreation Park before when we were living in Florida, but every visit is different, and this time we were lucky enough to see more alligators than on our last ride! We were pretty lucky considering the water levels were very low throughout Florida–Sawgrass was one of the few places that was open and offering rides. Many locations didn’t have enough water to operate the airboats!
After gliding through the water and sneaking peeks at all the alligators we could find, it was time to head even farther south to enter the boundaries of Everglades National Park.
Prior to this visit, we had never been inside the actual national park borders, so it was fun to explore a new side of the swamp. I had my eye on the Shark Valley Observation Tower as it gives you a birds eye view of the heart of the Everglades.
To get to the tower, you have three options: bike, take a tram or walk. The loop is 15 miles long, and it gets hot, so whatever option you choose, be sure to pack some water! Originally, I wanted to rent bikes, but the 105° heat and lack of time deterred us from that path, and we decided the tram could be a fun adventure.
While waiting for our ride to start, we explored a couple trails and boardwalks by foot. After arriving back at the visitor’s center, we were very grateful of our decision to take the tram.
The Shark Valley Tram Tour is fairly long–it takes about 2 hours round trip, and along the way you will learn all sorts of interesting facts about the Everglades.
For one, I had no idea that a large portion of the water in the park dries up every winter.
You will also stop for wildlife sightings along the way–we saw even more alligators and birds on the tram ride, but the real treat was waiting for us at the observation tower. We were given around 30 minutes to spend at the tower, and from the top deck, we spotted over 10 alligators soaking up the sun in the water below.
Plus, the views were fantastic! I never realized how lush and green the Everglades could be–most of the areas we had visited in the past were filled with mostly tall river grass and very few bright green trees.
I loved exploring a different side of the Everglades than I am used to seeing, and it was nice to luck out and see an abundance of wildlife. Even though the heat was excruciating, it’s always nice to spend some time exploring the more natural side of Florida!