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Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

The great Okefenokee Swamp evolved from the depths of the ocean and has existed for thousands of years. The ancient peat bog encompasses 700 square miles in south Georgia and north Florida and was once inhabited by the Native Americans some 4,000 years ago.

The Native Americans called the swamp “Okefenokee” or “trembling earth.” The reason they called it this was because of the islands that formed from the layers of peat that serve as the foothold for grasses, shrubs, and trees. When stepped on, these islands actually moved, hence the “trembling earth."

Today, the Okefenokee Swamp is one of the most outstanding examples of ecologically intact swamp in North America, ranging in elevation from 103 to 128 feet above sea level. It is also part of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, which is the largest national wildlife refuge in the eastern United States. It contains approximately 396,000 acres of the outstretched 496,000-acre Okefenokee Swamp.

Wildlife Refuge
Islands, prairies, wildlife, and cypress trees that are more than 500 years old are found within the wildlife refuge. Endangered species include the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, wood storks, and the threatened indigo snake.  It is also home to the resident Florida Sandhill cranes.

The different seasons bring different touches of beauty to the refuge too. The spring months produce golden club, tickseed sunflowers, and other wildflowers. During the winter months, the refuge becomes home for many types of birds, including the Greater Sandhill cranes, robins, hawks, owls, and bald eagles. 

Okefenokee Adventures- The official cooperating partner of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and provide a full range of visitor services at the main National Wildlife entrance near Folkston, Georgia.  Okefenokee Adventures is located inside the Main Entrance to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge on the historic Suwannee Canal. Your adventure starts here. Canoe, kayak, or boat the mirrored black waters of the Okefenokee Swamp.

Join us for our regularly scheduled 90 minute boat tours. Arrange a 4-5 hour extended excursion with our expert, professional guides. Experience the canoe camping trip of a lifetime in the backcountry wilderness of the swamp interior.

  • Folkston, GA
  • Ph: 912-496-7156


Okefenokee Announces Changes in Visitor Center Hours of Operation


Folkston, GA…..Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge announces changes in operation for the Richard S. Bolt Visitor Center effective February 1, 2014. The refuge has identified six months during the year where the Visitor Center will be open five days a week, December – February and June - August.  During these time frames, the Visitor Center will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Tuesday – Saturday, closed on Sunday and Monday. 

In addition, the refuge has identified seasons of operation where the Visitor Center will remain open daily. Beginning March 1 to May 31, and again during the months of September-November, the Richard S. Bolt Visitor Center will remain open 7 days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

These changes are being made after an analysis of recent visitation data was conducted, as well a look at the current and anticipated future staffing levels.  Due to recent budget considerations, the refuge visitor services program is being managed by a staff that has been diminished in half of what is was just 10 years ago.  The refuge, Swamp Island Drive, hiking trails, Chesser Island Boardwalk, and Okefenokee Adventures will continue to be open daily, with hours that vary seasonally. For the most up-to-date hours of operation, please contact the Richard S. Bolt Visitor Center at (912)-496-7836, or visit the refuge website www.fws.gov/okefenokee or www.facebook.com/OkefenokeWildlifeRefuge.

The Suwannee Canal Recreation Area (East Entrance) to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is the primary entrance managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is located 11 miles southwest of Folkson, GA off Hwy 121/23.  The refuge is open daily and offers a variety of opportunities for the visiting public.  Call 912-496-7836 or visit the refuge website at www.fws.gov/okefenokee for hours of operation, upcoming events, and entrance fee information.

The Boardwalk is finally finished!

Folkston, GA….The Chesser Island Homestead is a premiere location to host an event like this, demonstrating the techniques used by the homesteaders of the early 20-century using authentic tools and facilities.    

The new and improved ¾ mile boardwalk and Owl’s Roost Tower is open once again for visitors to have a glimpse into the vast Wilderness of the Okefenokee. “We are so thankful to again welcome our visitors to walk the Chesser Island Boardwalk as a way to ‘experience’ the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge”, states Refuge Manager Michael Lusk.

The Suwannee Canal Recreation Area of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is the primary entrance managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is located 11 miles southwest of Folkson, GA off Hwy 121/23.  The refuge is open daily and offers a variety of opportunities for the visiting public.  Call 912-496-7836 or visit the refuge website at www.fws.gov/okefenokee for hours of operation, upcoming events, and entrance fee information. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to providing access to this event for all participants.  Please direct all requests for sign language interpreting services, close captioning, or other accommodation needs to Susan Heisey, 912-496-7366 ex 233, .

These are the most recent pictures taken of the completed boardwalk.
Chesser Island Boardwalk from Owls RoostCompleted Boardwalk


This is what the boardwalk looked like when it was completed in 1970.

Boardwalk in 1969Boardwalk from above

This was the beginning of the reconstruction of the boardwalk.

Construction as of Easter Sunday 2013As of April 7, 2013

Progress is still being made on the boardwalk.  Below are some pictures taken on June 30, 2013 by Cindy McIntyre, USFWS.
 
Chesser Island BoardwalkPlatform
Rainbow from Platform




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