ALLIGATOR ALLEY

By  Mike Miller May 18, 2024

Alligator Alley is the nickname for the 80 mile stretch of I-75 from Naples in Southwest Florida to Weston and Fort Lauderdale on the East coast.

It travels across the Florida Everglades south of Lake Okeechobee. There are no developed areas along this route. It's sawgrass and cypress swamps all the way.

Alligator Alley MapAlligator Alley Location Map

The route goes through Everglades National Park and part of the Big Cypress National Preserve.

I have traveled back and forth on this highway dozens of times, but only when I'm in a hurry.  Other times I take US-41, known as Tamiami Trail from Naples to Miami.

The speed limit on Alligator Alley is 70mph.

There is more scenery and places to stop and explore on Tamiami Trail.  Up until the 1960s, this was the only way to cross the heart of the Everglades down in this part of Florida.

Alligator Alley 1965Alligator Alley Under Construction 1965

Alligator Alley was completed in 1969 as State Road 84 and officially named the Everglades Parkway.  It was only two lanes, straight most of the way, and was a toll road.

The first time I drove it was from Naples to Fort Lauderdale the year it opened.

Alligator Alley Toll Booth NaplesCollier County Toll Booth in Naples

It was extremely dark on this old road at night and many accidents happened in the 1970s and 1980s.  The deep ditches on either side of the highway had their share of alligators.

Alligator Alley Sign

There was always the chance of encountering an endangered Florida panther or black bear now and then, along with an alligator.  It was a scary trip after dark.

In the 1980s I-75 was being extended down Florida's west coast to Naples.  From there it curved to the east and headed toward Weston along the route of State Road 84.

When traveling east on Alligator Alley you are on I-75 South, and when going west you are on I-75 North.

Alligator Alley Aerial ViewAerial View of Alligator Alley

The two lanes of the existing road were made into eastbound I-75, and another two westbound lanes were built to the north with a grassy median between.

This greatly improved safety and things were made even better a few years later when fences were installed along the highway.  Alligator Alley today is a very well maintained highway.

There are several parking lots and recreation areas along both sides of the highway.  Each area has a boat ramp and is a safe place to look for alligators in their natural habitat.

Collier County Rest AreaCollier County Rest Area

There is a clean Collier County rest area near the middle of Alligator Alley. It has clean restrooms and roofed picnic tables.

Alligator Alley Broward Rest AreaBroward County Rest Area

There is also a Broward County rest area closer to the Fort Lauderdale end of the highway.  It also has clean restrooms and picnic facilities.

These days it is typical not to see a single gator on your trip across unless you stop at one of the rest areas and stare at a canal for awhile.

Alligator Alley Rest AreaRecreation and Rest Area Along Alligator Alley

Alligator Alley is still a toll road.  It costs $3.25 for a car and a lot more for a truck.

There are toll booths on both ends of Alligator Alley. It's a good idea to check you gas tank before taking the trip.  There is only one gas station along the way, the Miccosukee Service Station and Plaza.

This is at an interchange with the two-lane road that leads north to the Seminole Big Cypress Indian Reservation.

Miccosukee Service PlazaMiccosukee Service Plaza and Gas Station

The service plaza has restrooms, a small restaurant, convenience store items, coffee, and souvenirs.  It is the only place to get gas on Alligator Alley.

There is also a small casino at this interchange.

A nice side trip is the 17 miles north to the Indian Reservation and the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum. This winding road is known as Snake Road.


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