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  • Writer's pictureBrian Childress

Okefenokee Swamp Park - Fargo, Georgia

The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is a 402,000‑acre National Wildlife Refuge located in Charlton, Ware, and Clinch Counties of Georgia, and Baker County in Florida. The refuge was established in 1937 to protect a majority of the 438,000 acre Okefenokee Swamp.

The swamp is a vast bog inside a huge, saucer-shaped depression that was once part of the ocean floor. It now lies 103 to 128 feet above mean sea level. 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 name “Okefenokee” probably came from the Hitchiti (Creek) word meaning “trembling earth” or “bubbling water.” Habitats include open wet “prairies”, cypress forests, scrub-shrub vegetation, upland islands, and open lakes.

The swamp has a rich human history including Native American settlement, explorations by Europeans, a massive drainage attempt, and intensive timber harvesting.

Coversations/Things we learned:

This refuge has camping, boating, canoeing, and kayaking in somewhat calm swamp waters. The visitor center has a small but nice gift shop where boats and canoes can be rented.

This is a great spot to spend a few days and a must to either canoe, kayak, or ride a boat on this world famous swamp. You are almost guaranteed to see the American Alligator up close and personal but so long as you leave them alone, they will leave you alone. The place is not for the avid hiker as the refuge offers a couple of small trails, one of which is almost all boardwalk.

This is a definite location to go out of your way to visit. This swamp is one of the most well known in the world and a real jewel in the states of Georgia/Florida.

Contact information:

U.S. 1 South Waycross, Georgia 31503

Phone: 912-637-5274


The Pocket (Rangers Station, Boat Rentals, & Store)


The Swamp


Gallery of photos

Minnie Lake/Big Lake


These two lakes are located deep inside the swamp on the east side of the refuge. The only accessible way to these two lakes are by boat, kayak, or canoe. Be prepared to kayak/canoe for at least one hour to access these two lakes. The route includes an elevated rest area to include a tables and a bathroom.

The Sill


Billy’s Island:


During the Seminole Wars of the early 19th century, a small party of Indians evaded capture by retreating into the swamp. Over time, this group grew to become a community where escaped slaves and AWOL soldiers were welcome. Their leader went by the name of “Billy Bowlegs.” It’s generally agreed that it is this Billy for which the island was named. This 4000 acre island is the second largest in the swamp and is only accessible by boat.

Gallery of photos



Wildlife species include Florida raccoons, wading birds, ducks, American alligators and other reptiles, a variety of amphibians, North American river otters, Florida bobcats, raptors, Eastern American red foxes, wild boars, common minks, Virginia white-tailed deer, gray foxes, Florida skunks, Florida black bears, and songbirds.

Gallery of photos

Hiking Trails


Gallery of photos





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