If you’ve ever driven through Florida en route to Miami from the state’s western coast, you might have been on the stretch of I-75 known as “Alligator Alley.” The 80-mile road cuts through the Everglades between Naples and Fort Lauderdale and opened in 1968 after many years of construction.
It gets its name from the nearby swamps that alligators call home. Because of accidents between cars and wildlife over the years, the roadside is fenced off to protect not only the alligators but also the endangered Florida panther. In popular culture, the road has been featured in crime television and movies as a place to dispose of bodies.
If you’re planning a drive down Alligator Alley, keep in mind that it’s a toll road and that if you see wildlife, find a safe place to pull over to avoid causing an accident or getting stuck in the swamp. Remember that this is an incredibly remote part of Florida where there aren’t hospitals and ambulance service is sparse.
Alligator Alley Road Trip Tips
Fill up before you go.
There aren’t plentiful gas stations along the way, so whichever end you’re starting on, fill up your gas tank beforehand. At the time of this writing, there was one midway through, but expect to pay twice as much. If you’re overly cautious, fill up a backup gas canister to keep in the car.
Plan your rest stops accordingly.
This goes hand in hand with gas stops. There are, however, a few simple rest areas along the way, but you might drive for 30 or so minutes before finding one. It’s especially important if you’re traveling with little ones!
I stopped in Weston on the way back for some Latin breakfast pastries and bottled water but they also had a deli counter with sandwiches and other items. It’s not a bad idea to travel with a cooler full of a few snacks and water.
Make the drive during the day.
It’s harder to spot wildlife at night and some only come out in the dusk or evening hours. And if you’re not used to the road, the straight road that goes on seemingly forever can become downright dangerous if you start to get tired. Make a playlist of tunes or download some podcasts to keep you awake. Be careful of burst tires and drive the speed limit. Safety first!
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Have a backup plan.
It’s not uncommon to see many cars on the side of the road during the day. Some were simply looking for wildlife, but I saw plenty more that were being rescued for car troubles or running out of gas. Don’t let this happen to you, as it’s an expensive lesson to learn.
Make sure you have AAA or roadside assistance as well as a phone that will work in the middle of nowhere. Throw in a few items into your car such as blankets and flashlights for the worst-case scenario. For help, call *347 for Road Ranger assistance and make sure to know the closest mile marker number.
Keep your distance from wildlife.
Alligators look slow, but they move much quicker than you think. If you’re out of your car and see an alligator, or really any animal, stay at least 15 feet away. They are not here for photo ops so remember that they are wild animals.
If you’re interested in the slower route with more stops, check out the Tamiami Trail. Looking for a place to stay in Tampa or Miami? We recommend using Booking.com to find good deals.
You’re pretty, Caroline.
You go, Joey
Go get them aligator
Don’t give up Joey
They also have a couple viewing area rest stops on interstate 75 alongside the canals where you can safely view the wildlife. If the alligators are not in the water, they will be on the banks “sunning”.
No you save them not hurt them you got me
Thank you for this. We’ll be traveling Alligator Alley for the first time in 3 weeks. I found this very helpful. thanks again.
Betty Ford says
Back in the 70s, SR-84 was one lane in each direction, and the edges crumbling into the swamp. No fences, no cell phones, no one came out there if you broke down. Cops would sweep once in the morning, once at night.
Can someone recommend if traveling on Alligator Alley is better on weekdays or weekend. When is less traffic when traveling late morning?
The only time the traffic is ever heavy is around rush hour on weekdays (around 9:00 am and 4 PM – 6:30 PM) . And even then it is not that bad. You will notice it around Naples and particularly around Weston — but that is due to overall urban growth. I can drive from Fort Myers to Delray Beach (South Palm Beach County) in under two and a half hours on Saturday using Alligator Alley and I do not speed.
Vern Southard says
Very good advice. I’ve driven the Alley many times, you need to pay close attention to the signs that say NO GAS ahead, and carry water, a charged cell phone, snacks, clothes for a weather change, have a good reliable car battery, a spare tire and jack, tools to change a tire, first aid kit, and some cash if you need it to get a tow. Also medications if diabetic or other health situations exist. It’s a very long, and actually remote way across the Everglades, not just a short city to city hop with convenient roadside services and fast food like we are used to. Then you can relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery, and stop at the few safe places off the highway and look for some lazy Gators sunning themselves by the water.
Stay “ten” feet away from gators?!? ?. Sure, if you want your foot to be lunch. Make it more like 25-30.
Haven’t done the “Alley” on about 25 years
Very scary at nite back then. Taking family back there in July. Hope it will be “fun” for the kids.
Denny Pewsey says
I accidentally got on this road in 1970 while riding my motorcycle south through the Everglades. It was pitch black night, I headed east with little gas, not knowing where I was. Tried to stop for the night, but the mosquitoes swarmed, so continued on reserve tank and made it to Ft. Lauderdale! Young and carefree days!
The Masked Jedi says
I have traveled Alligator Alley a few times and had few issues except for the time the Mosque Indian Tribe Police Pulled me over for a broken tail light and searched my car for drugs and found nothing.