Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is in the state of Georgia in the United States.

Understand

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is a National Wildlife Refuge, featuring a large area of swampland and coastal forests. The park attracts large amounts of people from all over the country. With many visitors, the park is very well traveled and often mistaken for a National Park. More than 400,000 visitors visit the park each year.

History

The park was founded in 1936 in order to preserve the swamp that it sits on. Most of the land is bog and swamp like in nature. Before it was established as a park the land was used for logging operations by a now defunct company.

Landscape

Swamps, bogs, islands and Pine Forest make up the brunt of the park. The park covers a total of 402,000 acres (1,627 km²) of land with some 30,000 more acres outside park limits.

Flora and fauna

The Okefenokee Swamp is home to many wading birds, such as herons, egrets, ibises, cranes and bitterns, though populations fluctuate with water levels. Okefenokee is famous for its amphibians and reptiles such as toads, frogs, turtles, lizards, snakes as well as the abundance of American alligators and it is a critical habitat for Florida black bear.

Climate

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge can be considered to be in a semi-tropical climate zone. While temperatures during the Summer are generally humid and hot, winter temperatures are normally around 11.6°C (52.9°F). The Park often sees some wildfires during the dry season, and in 2007 experienced one of its worst fires of all time. Tropical cyclones also impact the swamp and park quite often.

Get in

Getting into the park is a rather easy ordeal.

By air

Jacksonville International Airport (IATA: JAX), 2400 Yankee Clipper Drive. Has regular flights to many US cities with major carriers such as Delta, United, American, and Southwest. Hilton Head Island International Airport (IATA: SAV) has a delightful glass-covered square with benches and shops in the center of the terminal, echoing the public squares in Savannah's Historic District. Rental cars, Grayline shuttles, taxis, and other ground transportation are on the lower level to take you to Savannah.

By car

The Parks Main Entrances are all easily accessible off of I-95, US.441 and US.301

Fees/Permits

The Park charges an entrance fee at each of its main Entrance Gates. The Fees are as follows:

Get around

Before taking a canoeing trip please read Wilderness backpacking

Canoeing is one of the most common modes of transport through the park. Motor boats can also be used as a means of transport in the many wilderness areas of the park. Cars and bicycles are allowed in some areas of the park.

See

Do

There are plenty of great activities at the park for anyone from the casual tourist to the seasoned hunter.

Hiking

Hiking Trails into the Okefenokee offer hikes through upland pine forests and across unique wetlands. Opportunities to view deer, squirrels, gopher tortoises, box turtles, snakes, and a wide variety of birds. Pets are permitted on trails, however they must be restrained on a 10-foot or shorter leash.

Fishing

The Okefenokee is home to 39 species of very unique fish. The fisher can expect to hook a few of the most common species in the swamp.

Hunting

Deer and feral hog can be hunted in fall and winter. Turkey is fair game in spring. Also a number small game, like quail, rabbits and squirrel can be hunted. Make sure your hunting licenses are good for use in the park and surrounding area.

Eat

Vending machines can be found in the park. Check nearby towns for other food services.

Drink

Vending machines can be found in the park. Check nearby towns for other food services.

Sleep

Lodging is available in all major nearby towns. Resorts, hotels and camping can be easily found.

Spencer House Inn is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and has 14 rooms each with a private bath. A full breakfast is served each morning. The Inn is within a short walk to the ferry to Georgia's Cumberland Island National Seashore. $124-210.

Lodging

Camping

Regular camping sites can be found within Stephen C. Foster State Park, a state park located within the NWR's borders. Sixty-six mix-use campsites can be reserved at this park, and offer a great base to begin exploring the swamp. http://www.georgia.reserveworld.com/CampGroundInfo.aspx?i=194&p=R

Backcountry

Backcountry camping is allowed in the form of canoe trips offered by the park. Trips differ by experience, and are only held when water levels are safe. http://www.fws.gov/okefenokee/Trips.html

Stay safe

It is key to understand some safety issues in order to enjoy your time at the park. Alligators are common in the area, and are known to be dangerous and can attack humans. Do not get to close to an alligator. Follow proper park guidelines to avoid harmful situations involving park wildlife. Due to the size of the park it is easy to get lost in. Much of the land set aside is Wilderness area meaning no human development can take place there. If you do get lost, remain calm and get to dry land as soon as possible.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, November 15, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.