Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge


Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

First established in 1937, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is composed of almost 396,000 acres of the famous Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia. Today, 353,981 acres of the property is also a Congressionally designated National Wilderness Area. Okefenokee is a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention of 1971.

Habitats here run the gamut from open waters to upland islands to cypress forests to scrub-shrub vegetation to open wet prairies. Traveling around here you'll find black bears, bobcats, white-tailed deer, raptors, alligators, amphibians, snakes, waterfowl and freshwater wading birds.

There are more than 400 species of animals living at Okefenokee, with many plant species like longleaf pine, slash pine, bald cypress, gumbo limbo and carnivorous sundews represented. This is a unique wilderness area in that you can drive a car or ride a bike along designated roads deep in the wilderness. You can also travel the area as part of a guided boat tour. There are hiking trails and meandering boardwalks that give access to observation towers and viewing platforms.

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge sports 3 main entrances and 2 secondary entrances. The gateway most folks use is about 11 miles southwest of Folkston, Georgia, off Highways 121 & 23. Eight miles south of Waycross, Georgia on Highway 1 is the north entrance and seventeen miles east of Fargo, Georgia via Highway Spur 177 is the west entrance. There is a secondary entrance also off Highway Spur 177 east of Fargo that leads to the Suwannee River Sill. Between Folkston and Waycross, also off Highway 1, is another secondary entrance to the property at Kingfisher Landing.

Okefenokee NWR is one of the National Wildlife Refuges where the US Fish & Wildlife Service charges a fee for recreational access. A Daily Refuge Pass costs $5 and is good fro seven days from the date of purchase. An annual refuge pass is only $12. There is also an Overnight Wilderness Canoe Permit (in case you want to camp somewhere, and it includes the fee for the daily refuge pass) for $10 per night per person.

Okefenokee Wilderness, part of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
In the heart of the Okefenokee Wilderness
Map of the Okenfenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge map: the green areas are designated wilderness.
Click on the map for a larger version