Located eight miles south of Waycross, Georgia, on U.S highway 1 is a junction where adventurous travelers, bird watchers, and nature enthusiasts can enter the still wild Okefenokee Swamp. Located at the terminus of a causeway traversing Cowhouse Island and its surrounding watery prairies, sits a small park called the Okefenokee Swamp Park. Created in the 1940’s, the park’s mission statement states that the park’s mission is to promote ecological tourism and to educate visitors about the incredible swamp and its very diverse population of animal and plant life. The park’s website gives a good introduction to the park, its history, and purpose. Anyone planning a trip to explore the swamp would do well to begin their adventure by spending a full day here. The nearby town of Waycross has plenty of nice hotels and restaurants to make such an experience very pleasurable and affordable as well.
Canoeing Through the Swamp
As one who grew up on this northern edge of the swamp, a son whose father was partially raised along its edges as well, I can promise any adventurer that “The Land of the Trembling Earth” is well worth a prolonged visit. I have written about camping within the swamp and I have enjoyed that adventure several times. On one occasion I led a group of teenaged young men and their chaperones from the Kingfisher landing located between Waycross and Folkston, Georgia, down through the swamp to the southern edge where we exited at the beautiful and remote Stephen C. Foster state park entrance. This is one of the few locations where fishermen and canoeing/kayaking nature lovers can enter and exit the National Wildlife Refuge which covers the great majority of the swamp.
Keep a Camera Handy
Of course, anyone heading through the swamp on such an excursion may hope to see any number of birds of all sizes, a few snakes here and there and the almost always viewable American alligator. The swamp and its surrounding terrain is also the home of panthers, bobcats, bears, whitetail deer, wild turkeys, river otters, and numerous other critters. Bring your camera and keep it ready at hand as you travel through the swamp. Opportunities to capture photographic evidence to back up your claims of seeing “this and that” will occur suddenly and then be quickly gone.
Grab your bird book, binoculars, camera, and canoe and head deep down into South Georgia for a real adventure….head for the swamp from which the last Indian raid against Georgia’s early settlers sprang….the great Okefenokee Swamp!