Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Folkston

#12 of 110 in Wildlife in Georgia
Must see · Wildlife Area · Nature / Park
The Refuge was established in 1937 to preserve the rare and beautiful Okefenokee Swamp.

The Okefenokee Swamp is a vast bog inside a huge, saucer-shaped depression that was once part of the ocean floor. The swamp now lies 103 to 128 feet above mean sea level. Native Americans named the area "Okefenokee" meaning "Land of the Trembling Earth". Peat deposits, up to 15 feet thick, cover much of the swamp floor. These deposits are so unstable in spots that trees and surrounding bushes tremble by stomping the surface.

The slow-moving waters of the Okefenokee are tea-colored due to the tannic acid released from decaying vegetation. The principal outlet of the swamp, the Suwannee River, originates in the heart of the Okefenokee and drains southwest into the Gulf of Mexico. The swamp’s southeastern drainage to the Atlantic Ocean is the St. Mary’s River, which forms the boundary between Georgia and Florida.

The swamp contains numerous islands and lakes, along with vast areas of non-forested habitat. Prairies cover about 60,000 acres of the swamp. Once forested, these expanses of marsh were created during periods of severe drought when fires burned out vegetation and the top layers of peat. The prairies harbor a variety of wading birds: herons, egrets, ibises, cranes, and bitterns.
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Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge reviews

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331 reviews
  • A little off the beaten path but we were excited to do a gator boat trip while in GA. Able to use Our America the Beautiful pass. Swamp loop is 8 miles with a few trails where you can see deer...  more »
  • The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is a great experience We took the guided boat tour and saw close up views of the marsh, gators, and many different varieties of birds. We enjoyed the walk on a....  more »
  • Love this place! The boat rides are so much fun! The staff is always knowledgeable & friendly and the views are incredible. Any time we have out of town friends or family here, we take them to the Center and no one has ever been disappointed!
  • Absolutely gorgeous place to visit. One of my favorite places in the world. A bit out of the way to get to but worth it. They offer boat/gator tours of the swamp but without the tourist trap vibe. It is run by DCR so it is not privately owned. I would recommend the board walk to the observation tower for those wanting a nice stroll. And for those braver people I would 100% recommend kayaking in the swamp, it is beautiful and you get to see a lot of gators up close.

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