Best alligator viewing in Florida
Where do you think the best alligator viewing in Florida is? Would you guess the Everglades? Big Cypress National Preserve? An alligator farm? A Florida lake? A Florida scenic river? How about a Florida roadside slough?
The best answer would be all the above. Alligators can be found in just about any body of water in the state. The first couple examples come as no surprise, but the fact that the best alligator viewing would be from the side of the road might shock those that have not driven the swampy southern roads of Florida.
Once visitors get south of Lake Okeechobee on U.S. 27 or south of Interstate 75 on Florida highway 29, there is a network of sloughs and canals that follow right along the roads. You can see hundreds of alligators out your car window while driving these scenic byways. Probably the best route is U.S. 41 through the Big Cypress National Preserve.
While driving north from Collier-Seminole State Park toward Orlando, I stopped and had a look at this little slough located just north of U.S. 41 on State Route 29 near the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve. I found over 30 alligators along this small stretch of water alone. The alligators were of various sizes from 10 footers with menacing open mouths with razor pearly whites, to alligators of a more modest size, to even ones that were only a foot or two long.
No need for hardcore adventure
This slough has no name as far as I know, but it is not unique. There are many similar stretches of water with plentiful alligators and birds in southern Florida. What is amazing is you do not have to get in a canoe and paddle, hire an airboat, or pursue any other type of adventure to be among these giant reptiles. Just keep your eyes peeled out the window in southern Florida and you will see more alligators than you can imagine.
Always be aware of your surroundings
If you do choose to get out of the car, be aware of your surroundings. It can be easy to start snapping away and focusing through your camera and not remembering that you are parked along a busy stretch of highway. Be careful of cars and semis when taking pictures along the side of the road.
Also, don’t forget to watch out for the very thing you are photographing. I became engrossed with alligators on the other side of the slough and walked along the edge of a guardrail about 20 feet from the edge of the water. I realized I was getting close to the water, and I looked down and saw a bunch of smaller alligators on the shore closest to me.
I then looked back and realized I almost stepped on the tail of three foot alligator who who was partially beneath the rail I was walking along. Fortunately, he had his mouth occupied with a dead fish, and he was quite small. Although alligators normally do not harm people, they have been known to ambush people if they walk too close to the water. There are also poisonous snakes about, so once again: be aware of your surroundings.
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