Signs warn about poisonous snakes at rest stop near Gainesville

Bright yellow signs warning about snakes went up earlier this year

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - If you're planning on driving on Interstate 75 and the urge to stop at a rest area hits you, a sign at one rest area near Gainesville is now urging motorists to beware of poisonous snakes. The sign is becoming a tourist attraction of its own.

The rest area on I-75 is like no other in the state; it sits atop a hill overlooking one of the most wild areas in Florida -- Payne's Prairie.

Earlier this year, bright yellow signs went up warning of poisonous snakes.

"They want to know what kind of snakes we have. I say, 'You're in Florida. You got all kinds of snakes,'" said rest area crew member Katie Mijares.

Snakes used to be a major problem in the area.

"I have a friend that's sacred of snakes and I thought she'd get a kick out of it," said motorist Rachel Manning while taking a photo. She said she isn't too scared of them. "I know that they don't like noise and my kids are noisy."

It's also the only rest area to sport a 325 foot long walkway to overlook the prairie, designed, as you might guess, to look like a snake.

Snake warning signs aren't the only unique thing about the rest area. It was once a hotbed of illegal drug trafficking. Another time, a major prostitution ring involving University of Florida co-eds was busted working out of here.

Drugs and prostitution are no longer a problem there, but the bright yellow sign warning of snakes can be a bit unnerving for some.

The message to motorists: You never know what you'll find at the rest area.

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