Okefenokee encompasses over 402,000 acres and is the largest national wildlife refuge in the eastern U.S. The refuge is a vast peat bog containing 70 islands. Swamps, upland forests, "prairie wetlands" and waterways provide habitat for more than 234 species of birds.
There are three major entrances to Okefenokee, each with its own facilities. These include Suwannee Canal Recreation Area (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) on the east side near Folkston, Stephen C. Foster State Park on the west side near Fargo and Okefenokee Swamp Park (private) on the north end near Waycross.
Sandhill crane, red-cockaded woodpecker, prothonotary warbler, northern parula, Bachman's sparrow, barred owl, swallow-tailed kite.
Take the Chesser Island Boardwalk, a 3/4-mile boardwalk that leads to a 40-foot-tall observation tower overlooking Seagrove Lake and the open prairies that dominate the eastern side of the Okefenokee. This is a great spot to view wading birds, waterfowl and alligators. Winter is the best time to view sandhill cranes, although they can be seen and heard year-round. Spring is an ideal time to spot rare red-cockaded woodpeckers and hear Bachman’s sparrow singing along Swamp Island Drive. Look for red-cockaded woodpeckers bringing food to their young in cavities created in live pine trees (trees with white bands on the trunks are cavity trees). Swallow-tailed kites nest near the Suwannee Sill Recreation Area.
Other Wildlife Highlights
Gopher tortoise (seen along Suwannee Canal Road and Canal Diggers Trail), fox squirrels (seen along Suwannee Canal Road and Canal Diggers Trail), American alligators (along water trails, at the boat basin and along the Swamp Island Drive), black bears (throughout the refuge, including the pocket leading into Stephen C. Foster State Park), diamondback rattlesnakes, pygmy rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, timber rattlesnakes, banded watersnakes, corn snakes, rat snakes, black racers and glass lizards (seen along Swamp Island Drive and water snakes along Chesser Island Boardwalk).
Okefenokee hooded pitcher plants (in the prairies and along the Green and Red water trails out of Kingfisher Landing); native orchids, including rose pagonia, grass pink and spreading pagonia (along Swamp Island Drive); longleaf pine woods and restoration area (along Swamp Island Drive and the pocket); other carnivorous plants, including bladderwort (any waterway or roadside ditch), butterworts, sundews, parrot pitcherplants and trumpet pitcherplants (Green water trail out of Kingfisher Landing).
Best Birding Seasons
|Birds of Prey||✓||✓||✓||✓|
Entrance fee. Check the USFWS website for up-to-date pricing.
2700 Suwannee Canal Road
Folkston, GA 31537