Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

The sun setting through mist rising from 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.

An aerial view of open water and swamp in the Okefenokee Wilderness
In the heart of the Okefenokee Wilderness
Map of Okenfenokee National Wildlife Refuge
The green areas are designated wilderness
Click or tap on the map for a larger version

Photo of the bald cypress swamp courtesy of Ryan Hagerty, US Fish & Wildlife Service
Photo of sun in haze courtesy of George Gentry, US Fish & Wildlife Service
Maps and photo of Okefenokee Wilderness courtesy of the US Fish & Wildlife Service