Best Bargain Family Adventures: Alligator Alley

Get up-close and personal with these enormous native reptiles.
James T. Black

More than 200 alligators, ranging in size from about 5 feet to more than 13 feet long, and ranging in appetites from rather hungry to really hungry, slip, slide, and swim in and out of a pond less than a mile from the Gulf Shores-bound traffic heading south on Alabama’s State 59. A modern-day homage to the roadside gator farms that once amazed landlocked Southerners (but without the gator wrestling shows), Alligator Alley uses its reptilian residents to teach visitors more about this large American predator.

Meet the Alligator Guy
Wes Moore, Owner
Wes grew up spending summers on the cypress swampland and fields that now serve as home to his gators. “This was my grandfather’s farm,” Wes says. “He had a problem with beavers damming up the pond and flooding his fields, so one day a couple of young fellows brought him an alligator.” The alligator lived on the farm for 25 years. He solved the dam problem, and Wes found a career. “Some kids want to be doctors or lawyers when they grow up,” he says. “I wanted to be an alligator guy.” After graduating from Auburn University, the alligator enthusiast got married, traveled the world for a while, and then returned to Alabama in 2003. A year later he started rescuing nuisance gators from Florida, and opened the Alley. Now Wes spends his time taking care of his reptiles and sharing their stories with people from all over the world. “No matter where they come from, most people misunderstand gators. They’re really afraid of them,” says Wes as he smiles and picks up a baby resident (after wisely taping its snout shut). “That’s where I come in. People can get close to a gator like this and still have me as a safety net. When most folks see an alligator they’re either terrified or fascinated. I’ve always been fascinated.”

Summerdale, Alabama; gatoralleyfarm.com