Okefenokee Swamp Park is a rare experience for every member of the family.
Extravagant beauty that takes you back into the world’s pre-history.
• Located 244 miles south of Atlanta, near the Florida border.
Okefenokee Swamp, also spelled Okefinokee, is a swamp and wildlife refuge in southeastern Georgia and northern Florida. It is a shallow, saucer-shaped depression approximately 25 miles (40 km) wide and 40 miles (65 km) long and covers an area of more than 600 square miles (1,550 square km).
Lying about 50 miles (80 km) inland from the Atlantic coast, the Okefenokee Swamp is bounded on the east by the low, sandy Trail Ridge, which prevents direct drainage into the Atlantic. The swamp is partially drained southward into the Atlantic by the Suwannee and St. Mary’s rivers.
The Okefenokee Swamp includes low, sandy ridges, wet, grassy savannas, small islands (called hummocks) surrounded by marshes, and extensive “prairies,” or dark water areas covered by undergrowth and trees.
Vegetation is dense in the swamp and includes giant tupelo and bald cypress trees festooned with Spanish moss, brush, and vines; where sandy soil is above the water, pine trees predominate. Meandering channels of open water form an intricate maze.
Exotic flowers, among them floating hearts, lilies, and rare orchids, abound.
The swamp is populated with diverse and abundant wildlife, with about 175 species of birds and at least 40 species of mammals, which include raccoons, black bear, white-tailed deer, bobcats, fox, and otter. Alligators are also present.
• In 1937, 371,445 acres (150,319 hectares) of swampland, almost all in Georgia, were set aside as the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, with headquarters at Waycross, Ga. The swamp’s name is thought to have come from the Seminole Indian word for “trembling earth,” so-called because of the floating islands of the swamp.
The Okefenokee is a significant part of America's heritage, a beautifully preserved segment of what was here when America began.
Boat tours on original Indian waterways, wilderness walkways, Pioneer Island and native animals in their own habitat, all combine to weave a spell of pioneer American life.
Points of Interest include an "Eye on Nature Wildlife Show," low-water boardwalk, 90-foot Observation Tower, Nature Center with bee hive observatory, wildlife observation areas, Walt Kelly Exhibit, and much more.
Interpretive exhibits, lectures, wildlife shows, boat tours on original Indian Waterways, wilderness walkways, Pioneer Island, native animals in their own habitat, all combine to weave a spell of pioneer American life.
You witness in real life the place where primitive man ruled the wilds, where Indians hunted and fished, where early settlers sought peace and communed with nature. You see, for real, how nature’s balance assures the perpetuation of the flora and fauna and the swamp itself.
• Its glory is its pristine beauty, making it a photographer’s dream.
The Okefenokee Swamp Park, a non-profit development operating under a long-term lease is not supported by federal or state funds. An admission charge goes towards operating and developing the park.
The park is easy to reach from anywhere in the South, located 8 miles south of Waycross, Georgia on highway US 1/23.
♦ Camping overnight in the Okefenokee Swamp is allowed only with a permit, which is issued through the refuge office near Folkston, GA. Reservations can be made only within two months to the day your trip begins.
There are no other overnight accommodations in the park but admirable facilities are available in the Waycross area, including camping facilities at nearby Laura S. Walker State Park.
For your pet’s protection and yours,
NO PETS ALLOWED in the Park!
History & Facts
The Okefenokee Swamp is a shallow, 438,000-acre (177,000 ha), peat-filled wetland straddling the Georgia–Florida line in the United States.
A majority of the swamp is protected by the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and the Okefenokee Wilderness. The Okefenokee Swamp is considered to be one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia.
The Okefenokee is the largest "blackwater" swamp in North America.
The swamp was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1974.
The Okefenokee was formed over the past 6,500 years by the accumulation of peat in a shallow basin on the edge of an ancient Atlantic coastal terrace, the geological relic of a Pleistocene estuary.
The earliest known inhabitants of the Okefenokee Swamp were the Timucua-speaking Oconi, who dwelt on the eastern side of the swamp.
Spanish friars built the mission of Santiago de Oconi nearby in order to convert the Oconi to Christianity. The Oconi's boating skills, developed in the hazardous swamps, likely contributed to their later employment by the Spanish as ferrymen across the St. Johns River.
Modern-day longtime residents of the Okefenokee Swamp, referred to as "Swampers", are of overwhelmingly English ancestry.
The swamp provides an important economic resource to southeast Georgia and northeast Florida.
About 400,000 people visit the swamp annually, with many from distant locations such as Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, China and Mexico.
Service providers at the refuge entrances and several local outfitters offer guided tours by motorboat, canoe, and kayak.