Which One, TAMIAMI TRAIL VS. ALLIGATOR ALLEY – FLORIDA ROAD TRIP DIFFERENCE
There are some common questions;
Alligator Alley or Tamiami Trail, Which One is Better?
Which is faster Tamiami Trail or Alligator Alley?
Which is Better Alligator Alley or Tamiami Trail?
Where is the Alligator Alley in Florida?
It can be confusing since they both end up near Miami, but the differences between the Tamiami Trail vs. Alligator Alley are significant. Which do you take Tamiami Trail or Alligator Alley? The answer depends on your destination, time of day, your goals on your road trip plans, and the sights you prefer to see.
Tamiami Trail History
During construction, things went rather as expected until the roadway between the outskirts of Miami and the little town of Ochopee in the Everglades brought construction to a halt. No one really understood the challenges the Everglades wilderness would bring when trying to make a roadway through the swamps.
Public funding quickly ran out. One man, Barron Collier, knew the value of a road from Miami to Tampa. As an owner of millions of acres in the area, Collier agreed to fund the project through the Everglades. They had to overcome the “swamp angels“, build specialized equipment for the swamps, find workmen willing to encamp in the wild and develop ways to transport millions of tons of bedrock to the road. It became a monumental task.
It took almost 5 years to complete the east-west section of the road through the Everglades. Today, the mainly four-lane highway is a beautiful drive through one of America’s most heralded wetlands. The sights you come across on the Tamiami Trail (US Rt. 41) from Naples to Miami are the subjects of photographers from around the world.
Wildlife, birds, and plants exist in this part of Florida that aren’t found anywhere else in the world. Magnificent scenery for almost 100 miles. Tamiami Trail alligators have been photographed so often, we think they may pose!
The History of Alligator Alley
Alligator Alley was opened as a two-lane roadway in 1968. Controversy quickly developed. It was a dangerous road. Headon collisions were common. Wildlife quickly became accustomed to the traffic and used the roadway for crossings in the Everglades. More collisions.
Finally, in 1986 it was decided to route I-75 onto Alligator Alley. That became a six-year project that resulted in today’s toll road with four lanes (and more in some areas). That turned Alligator Alley into a superhighway as they rerouted waterways for wildlife under the freeway. Tall fences keep man from infringing on the creatures of the swamps (or vice versa).
Alligator Alley is the fastest way to Miami. However, in our opinion, the least scenic way. In fact, we have written about the “Real Alligator Alley”, which is the Tamiami Trail. You will see many more alligators (and other wildlife) on the Trail than Alligator Alley.
The Differences Between The Tamiami Trail and Alligator Alley
We have driven both roads many times. Each road has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on your perspective. We outline the contrasts below.
- If you want the fastest way to Miami, the toll road Alligator Alley is your road. However, if you are heading to the Keys, the difference in time getting to Key Largo is minimal between the two roads. Rush hour in Miami on the freeways is no fun!
- If you are a sight-seer or photographer, hands down, the Tamiami Trail is the road for you. Over the years we have seen tons of alligators, many unusual birds, and the occasional deer or bobcat. We haven’t seen the elusive Florida Panther that others have been lucky enough to see. We believe the Tamiami Trail alligators are part of a great Florida road trip.
- If you are driving at night, we suggest Alligator Alley. The Tamiami Trail offers less security and the chances are greater of an encounter with Everglades wildlife on the road.
- Both roads have Native American road stops for gas, snacks and bathrooms, but don’t rely on them late at night. You will see more law enforcement on Alligator Alley than on the Tamiami Trail. However, be warned – the Miccosukee tribe patrols part of the Tamiami trail after around mile marker 70. They are strict about speed.
- Both roads have rest areas and picnic places roadside.
The toll road I-75, Alligator Alley, has limited access as most super highways do. There aren’t many easily accessible attractions.
On the other hand, the Tamiami Trail has plenty of things to see and do including;
- The smallest post office in the world is in Ochopee. Great for a picture.
- The Skunkape Headquarters are along the Trail. Amusing stop!
- One of the most prolific artists in Florida has a gallery about halfway to Miami. The Clyde Butcher Galleries are well worth the visit for Everglades artistry.
- Numerous airboat ride vendors are along the highway.
- If you want a true Florida adventure, take a detour on Loop Road we have written about here.
Our Conclusions – Tamiami Trail vs. Alligator Alley
We believe your goals will determine your path. Tamiami Trail versus Alligator Alley is a choice made based on your time, your destination and your goals. If you are on the proverbial Florida road trip, Tamiami Trail will be your choice. If you are catching a plane in Ft. Lauderdale, the Alligator Alley will get you there the quickest.