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A One Day Visit To Okefenokee Swamp In Georgia

A One Day Visit to Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia

An adventure I highly recommend – that is perfect for all ages – is a one day visit to Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia. It was one of the the highlights of our trip to the southern US. Now I know not many people would get excited about a visit to a swamp but this isn’t just any old swamp!

Beautiful reflections on in the waters of Okefenokee Swamp

Beautiful reflections on in the waters of Okefenokee Swamp

Some cool facts about Okefenokee Swamp

Okefenokee Swamp is home to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge – established to preserve 402,000 acres of habitat that includes not only the bog with its tea-coloured water but lakes, cypress forests, scrub shrub areas and even open, though wet prairie. It’s a land that goes through a cycle of fires and regrowth largely because the peat deposits, which are up to 15 feet deep, are capable of burning.

Okefenokee Swamp has been protected since 1937 when it became part of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. It’s the biggest, continuous blackwater swamp in North America covering close to 700 square miles. It’s home to over 200 species of birds, 50 reptile species, 40 amphibian species, 40 species of mammals and an unknown number of insect species, a true nature-lovers paradise.

"Beautiful cypress trees"

Beautiful cypress trees

Its a beautiful boat ride down the length of the canal

Its a beautiful boat ride down the length of the canal

The waters of the Okefenokee are the colour of steeped tea all because of the tannic acid released from decaying plants. They do not look the least bit hospitable; especially when you consider how many alligators you can see in a two mile boat ride. We counted seven! 

Looking down one of the man-made canals in the swamp

Looking down one of the man-made canals in the swamp

"A wet prairie area of the swamp - with plenty of alligators"

A wet prairie area of the swamp – with plenty of alligators

History of Okefenokee Swamp

While there are signs that Okefenokee Swamp was inhabited as early as 2,500 BC by tribes of the Depford Culture, the recent history of the swamp is also quite interesting. In 1891 the Suwanee Canal Company purchased most of the swamp from the State of Georgia with the intention of draining the land and growing crops. Over a period of three years, 11.5 miles of canal was dug into the swamp but the economy forced the company into bankruptcy. The Hebard Cypress Company was the next business to tackle the swamp. Over 28 years, 431 million board feet of lumber – mostly the gorgeous cypress trees were removed.

A sandhill crane - known for its' loud squawky voice

A sandhill crane – known for its’ loud squawky voice

"Beautiful wild iris"

Beautiful wild iris

You'll find trees covered in Spanish moss lining the canals in

You’ll find trees covered in Spanish moss lining the canals

"The length in inches from the eyes to the nose gives a rough indication in feet of the length of the alligator"

The length in inches from the eyes to the nose gives a rough indication in feet of the length of the alligator

"A little fishing in the swamp"

A little fishing in the swamp

"Lone turtle we saw in Okefenokee"

Lone turtle we saw in Okefenokee

More information about Okefenokee Swamp

  • You can rent canoes and motorboats and in fact you can do a two to five day wilderness canoe trip. Make reservations up to 60 days in advance by calling 912-496-3331. (I’ll take the bears in my neck of the woods over the alligators, snakes and creepie crawlies!)
  • There are three main entrances to the swamp – via the east entrance, 11 miles southwest of Folkston, Georgia; via the west entrance 17 miles east of Fargo, Georgia; and via the north entrance located eight miles south of Waycross, Georgia.
  • The entrance fee is $17 per person.
  • Dogs are allowed on leash.
  • Boat tours are 90 minutes long and are very informative. The cost is $18 per person.

There is a diverse amount of wildlife to be seen in the swamp including alligators, endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers, ospreys, wild turkeys, sandhill cranes, prothonotary warblers, turtles, frogs, lizards and as they say, an unknown number of insect species

One of the big alligators we saw guarding his grassy section

One of the big alligators we saw guarding his grassy section

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

A one day visit to the fascinating Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 57,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 36 Comments
  1. The beauty of the swamp has a way of growing on you. When I first visited the Everglades I dreamed about the place several times after returning. It was then I knew I would return, and I have several times. I have never been to Okefenokee, but I would love to check it out sometime. Fantastic photos. I really like the alligator in the water.

  2. The beauty of the swamp has a way of growing on you. When I first visited the Everglades I dreamed about the place several times after returning. It was then I knew I would return, and I have several times. I have never been to Okefenokee, but I would love to check it out sometime. Fantastic photos. I really like the alligator in the water.

    1. @Matthew I loved our day there but we also saw an old homestead and couldn’t imagine living IN a swamp. Although the trees are reminiscent of mangroves they are actually the cypress trees. And in the day there would have been some grand old trees.

  3. I get excited by a trip to a swamp. I have never been to a swamp in Florida (took a double-decker boat tour off the edge of the Everglades once, but that doesn’t count). My conditions for visiting Disney are that we also take a rife through the Everglades while in Florida, but maybe it will be easier to negotiate Okefenokee. My wife is so afraid of gators.

  4. I get excited by a trip to a swamp. I have never been to a swamp in Florida (took a double-decker boat tour off the edge of the Everglades once, but that doesn’t count). My conditions for visiting Disney are that we also take a rife through the Everglades while in Florida, but maybe it will be easier to negotiate Okefenokee. My wife is so afraid of gators.

    1. @David Although gators can move fast and there are plenty of them, the guides in Okefenokee basically said give them some space and they’re not a threat. Hope you can talk your wife into the trip since you’re so close to Florida – and actually probably closer than the Everglades.

  5. Wow! What gorgeous pictures. I love the reflections in the swamp waters. I have been frequenting the South this past year and I do regret not getting out on a boat to explore some swampland. I’ll add the Okefenokee Swamp to my list for next time!

  6. Wow! What gorgeous pictures. I love the reflections in the swamp waters. I have been frequenting the South this past year and I do regret not getting out on a boat to explore some swampland. I’ll add the Okefenokee Swamp to my list for next time!

  7. It took me all week to learn how to pronounce the swamp’s name _ this is how I remembered it “o-key-fin-o-key”. The homestead in the swamp was surreal – how folks were industrious 150 years ago in such a hostile environment – makes me feel a tad soft when the AC in the car doesn’t work properly. The constant buzz of insects, gators lurking, no grocery store for miles or cash – this family (Leigh will recall the name…) survived on different berries, wild boar, raising chickens, growing vegetables, making and bartering turpentine. The second “more modern” cabin built in 1927 was rudimentary – the floor boards were open enough to be plagued by mosquitoes 24/7. No wonder the average life expectancy was 1/2 of what it is today. Worth checking out the homestaed – no doubt Leight will post some pics…

  8. It took me all week to learn how to pronounce the swamp’s name _ this is how I remembered it “o-key-fin-o-key”. The homestead in the swamp was surreal – how folks were industrious 150 years ago in such a hostile environment – makes me feel a tad soft when the AC in the car doesn’t work properly. The constant buzz of insects, gators lurking, no grocery store for miles or cash – this family (Leigh will recall the name…) survived on different berries, wild boar, raising chickens, growing vegetables, making and bartering turpentine. The second “more modern” cabin built in 1927 was rudimentary – the floor boards were open enough to be plagued by mosquitoes 24/7. No wonder the average life expectancy was 1/2 of what it is today. Worth checking out the homestaed – no doubt Leight will post some pics…

  9. Leigh: I am so glad you wrote a note over my way–for some reason, I’m not able to get updates when you have new posts in my sidebar “Good Reads” list (which is where I’m most able to spot them). I’ve been eagerly awaiting your report on the swamp trip–and lo, here it’s been for quite a while! Anyway, very glad I found it & that you found your tour of this, another grand swamp, worthwhile. (No sand cranes in the Atchafalaya, so great that you saw some!) Happy continued traveling!

  10. Leigh: I am so glad you wrote a note over my way–for some reason, I’m not able to get updates when you have new posts in my sidebar “Good Reads” list (which is where I’m most able to spot them). I’ve been eagerly awaiting your report on the swamp trip–and lo, here it’s been for quite a while! Anyway, very glad I found it & that you found your tour of this, another grand swamp, worthwhile. (No sand cranes in the Atchafalaya, so great that you saw some!) Happy continued traveling!

    1. @Susan Loved our swamp trip – really one of the highlights. Not so sure I’d want to canoe and camp but quite enchanted by the beauty. Your houseboat experience still sounds like one I’d like to try.

  11. OMG! I just now found this post. I LOVE Okefenokee! Not only because it’s a fabulous place, but it’s SUCH a fun word to say!!! Your pics of the alligators are FABULOUS! I love the one looking right into your camera. I lost my camera overboard when we went canoeing there in search of the Skunk Ape. Later we went back with friends and did one of the boat routs and she was trying to embarrass me by asking about the Skunk Ape but the guide was like, “Oh yeah, some people swear some kind of supernatural critter like that lives here in this here swamp.” I have the best memories of there. Love seeing it through your eyes via your pics. πŸ˜‰

  12. OMG! I just now found this post. I LOVE Okefenokee! Not only because it’s a fabulous place, but it’s SUCH a fun word to say!!! Your pics of the alligators are FABULOUS! I love the one looking right into your camera. I lost my camera overboard when we went canoeing there in search of the Skunk Ape. Later we went back with friends and did one of the boat routs and she was trying to embarrass me by asking about the Skunk Ape but the guide was like, “Oh yeah, some people swear some kind of supernatural critter like that lives here in this here swamp.” I have the best memories of there. Love seeing it through your eyes via your pics. πŸ˜‰

    1. @Courtney I also love the way Okefenokee rolls off the tongue. A total bummer about your camera – and that’s not water that I’d want to have my hand fishing about it – should your camera have been waterproof. Now I have never heard about a skunk ape and I need to Google it.

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