Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge

Overview

Introduction

Cypress trees, floating islands, alligators and more than 200 species of birds dominate this massive swampland in southeast Georgia. There are three main entrances into the refuge. From the east, you can enter through the Suwannee Canal Recreation Area (Folkston), from the west through Stephen Foster State Park (Fargo) and from the north via the nonprofit Okefenokee Swamp Park.

Of these, the Okefenokee Swamp Park (near Waycross) is the easiest way to get acquainted with the area. It has a series of boardwalks a few feet above the water so that visitors can get a glimpse into the swamp. For a better look, take one of the park's short boat tours. Kids will get a kick out of seeing the alligators in the park, and there's also a serpentarium, an observation tower, a wildlife observatory and the Swamp Creation Center, which documents the history of the Okefenokee.

Those who want a more in-depth look at the swamp can arrange a longer canoe or boat tour, and two- to five-day wilderness trips can be arranged through the refuge office near Folkston. If you're not planning on going deep into the swamp, you'll need to schedule only a day there—without a boat or a canoe, you're pretty much confined to the edges of the refuge. Be sure to take plenty of sunscreen and insect repellent (or—in the tradition of the Deep South—be prepared to be deep fried and eaten). The refuge is 180 mi/290 km southeast of Atlanta.

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