Florida Travel Blog - Destinations in Florida

Florida Travel Blog 

Travel destinations, beaches and attractions and things to do in Florida. Documented by RESIDENTS of Florida.

Lively Everglades Loop Road – The Alligator Super Highway

Everglades Loop Road - Florida Alligators and Wildlife Adventure

Most people who travel Florida have heard of, or traveled, Alligator Alley and the Tamiami Trail. Both run across south Florida through the Everglades. Each is known for alligator sightings, but the Tamiami Trail is more densely populated with alligators.

Despite the alligator populations on Tamiami Trail, I-75, built in 1992, got the name Alligator Alley.

If we make an alligator sighting comparison to Everglades Loop Road and the other two major highways, Everglades Loop Road is the true Alligator Alley! In fact we call it the “super highway” of alligators!

How Long is Everglades Loop Road

Can you imagine a 25-mile stretch of road where you can view scores of alligators in their natural habitat without even getting out of your car? That rarely traveled road is Everglades Loop Road, Big Cypress Preserve.

Everglades Loop Road is a real Florida adventure and not for the meek visitor! This is the real Everglades. See the video we included for a realistic view of your adventure.

Take Care When Considering Traveling Loop Road Everglades

Everglades Loop Road starts when traveling east on Tamiami Trail (Rt. 41). At about mile marker 59, also known as Monroe Station (a mere cross road), the location is not much more than an intersection. 

Loop Road runs a little southeast and then back northeast until it intersects Rt. 41 (Tamiami Trail) again, some 25 miles later. You wander through some of the densest swamps in the Everglades. See the Map of Loop Road.

I am not going to sugarcoat this! If you don’t like nature, don’t take this road. If you don’t have plenty of gas, don’t take this road (there are no gas stations). If you are in a hurry, don’t take this road. 

If you don’t want to run about 20 miles an hour on a pothole-laced gravel road, don’t take this road. If your vehicle has any weaknesses, don’t take this road! If you need a bathroom, once again, you better like nature really well!

This is a Florida adventure through the Everglades Loop Road!

More Florida Alligators on Scenic Loop Road in the Everglades

Everglades Loop Road is not only unique but may have more wildlife in its natural habitat than you will ever see anywhere. In the first five miles of the road, we saw white egrets, blue herons, hawks, snowy egrets, ospreys, anhinga, turkey vultures, night herons, wood storks, and several species we could not identify.

things you need when flying

There are rare wildlife species throughout the Everglades.

While admittedly the first couple of miles of Loop Road makes you think you made a mistake by taking this gravel road, it quickly changes into a dense tree-lined swamp that suddenly is alive with alligators. 

Your eyes get trained to the gators’ dark log-like first appearance when viewed in the swamp.

In our travels, we generally get to Everglades Loop Road about mid-morning. By the time the sun gets high in the sky, alligators begin to creep out of the swamp and onto and along the road. 

In fact, close-up picture taking turns into a car window process, rather than tempting fate walking on the road with eight-foot gators a few feet away.

Simply stated, if you want stunning photos of everything an untouched wooded swamp can provide, this is it. Unbelievable photo portrait type opportunities are literally everywhere.

Everglades Loop Road Eco-System

At some point, my mind wandered beyond this virtual wildlife parade about the time a three or four-foot snake of undetermined type was leisurely swimming by. 

How did this road get here? Who forged this trail through dense trees, vines, undergrowth, and water? How many men succumbed to the perils of the swamp and what was their life like 100 years ago when the road was first cut through this swampy mess? 

With the man-made enemies of the Everglades, should we even be here?

If no other reason to visit, you will understand the ecosystem that has been the home to Native Americans, gladesmen and pioneers for hundreds of years. It is difficult to visualize how man survived in this natural wonderland of trees, vegetation, tangled brush, vast grasslands, and brackish streams that make up the Everglades.

loop 7
Baby Alligators Were Plentiful

Everglades Under Assault

The Everglades, a 60-mile wide “river of grass” as described by Marjory Stoneman Douglas, is under assault by man’s ever-growing need for development. 

This ecosystem is unlike anything else in the world. As far back as the 1800s, people wanted to stop the flow of water and try to control one of mother nature’s most delicate natural habitats. The resulting pressure has seen the decline in size and quality of the Everglades, despite our changing attitudes about preservation.

These Guys Were Sunning Themselves
You See What is Stalking This Turkey Vulture?
We Didn't Even Phase This Big Boy!
Natural Beauty Abounds!
This Night Heron Kept An Eye On Us!
This Blue Heron Needs To Watch What's Under the Water!
Nice Teeth!
Wood Storck Hunting!
This Road Looks OK - Gravel & Pot Holes
Eveglades Loop Road Map
loop 13
Can You See What Is Lurking Below the Surface?

Our intrusion into such natural phenomenon seems wrong. Visiting may be the only way more people are made aware of what this vast preserve used to be and the need to protect it in the future.

The history of Everglades Loop Road is a fascinating story of man’s attempt to conquer Mother Nature.. History shows the attempt to develop this area into a town with settlers, businesses and growth failed on several occasions. 

This graveled pathway is all that is left. If that seems the sad, it should not. This may be one of the few instances where man’s attempt to tame such naturally beautiful creation came to a right and justifiable end.

As I come down off my soap box, I hope people travel the area and ask themselves, why is this so populated with so many sights and sounds no longer seen – even at manmade zoos, wildlife havens and attractions?

 

loop road Everglades
Can you imagine trying to cut a road through this swamp 100 years ago?

The History of Florida Everglades Loop Road

Loop Road is a scenic and historic byway located in the Florida Everglades. This gravel road winds through the heart of the Big Cypress National Preserve, offering visitors a glimpse of the region’s unique natural beauty. 

The history of scenic Loop Road is intertwined with the history of the Everglades and the development of South Florida.

Early Settlement

Loop Road was originally constructed in the early 20th century as a part of the efforts to drain and develop the Everglades for agricultural and residential purposes. The road was initially built to provide access to the remote and marshy areas for settlers, hunters, and farmers. It served as a lifeline for the early pioneers who were trying to eke out a living in this challenging environment.

Environmental Concerns

 As the negative environmental impacts of draining and development in the Everglades became more evident, conservationists and environmentalists began advocating for its preservation. Loop Road in the Everglades, like many other developments in the region, contributed to altering the natural flow of water, which was harmful to the ecosystem.

Preservation Efforts

In the 1970s, there was a shift in public sentiment toward preserving the Everglades and recognizing the importance of its unique ecosystem. Loop Road and the surrounding areas became part of conservation efforts, and the road itself was designated as a scenic byway.

Big Cypress National Preserve

 In 1974, the Big Cypress National Preserve was established, which includes the scenic Loop Road. This designation provided protection for the natural environment and wildlife in the area while allowing for responsible recreational activities and eco-tourism.

Today, Loop Road is a popular destination for nature enthusiasts, photographers, and tourists interested in experiencing the beauty of the Everglades. It provides an opportunity to see the diverse flora and fauna of the region, including alligators, birds, and unique plant species. 

Today’s Visitors to Everglades Loop Road 

Loop Road, although rustic, is maintained as a scenic drive, and it offers a look back into the history of the Everglades and its conservation. Visitors can also find various recreational activities, including hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife photography, making it a significant part of the Big Cypress National Preserve’s eco-tourism attractions.

Enjoy your Florida adventure down Everglades Loop Road and get a clear vision of how the Everglades used to be!

Video of Everglades Loop Road

An update to this post. We visited Loop Road again recently. Brent Edger made a digital version of one of our trips through the Everglades.

Lowest Airfares to Florida
Advertisements
Cruise Critic See the world for less Start saving your ideas
Florida Travel Blog
Join our Mailing list!

Get all our latest posts and our monthly Florida Travel Newsletter with the latest posts and Florida Travel News.