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At Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, visitors can enjoy activities such as canoeing, photography, fishing and hiking. Whether you have three hours or three days, there are several ways to enjoy the refuge! Stop by the Richard S. Bolt Visitor Center to learn about all of the recreational opportunities. You can drive the seven-mile roundtrip route on Swamp Island Drive, accompanied by a self-guided brochure. The Suwannee Canal Recreation Area (Main Entrance) has seven hiking trails of varying distances and degrees of difficulty. Additionally, the refuge’s annual Pioneer Day each November is a way to get an understanding of life as like long ago in the swamp. There are also opportunities for hunting and fishing within the refuge.

There are three major entrances (and two secondary entrances) to the Okefenokee, each with its own facilities and special character.  From the open prairies of the Suwannee Canal Recreation Area (Main Entrance) to the forested cypress swamp at Stephen C. Foster State Park (West Entrance), Okefenokee is a mosaic of habitats, plants, and wildlife.  Entrance fees are required (and may vary) at each entrance. Plan your visit to the Okefenokee by checking out VisitTheSwamp.com

Suwannee Canal Recreation Area (MAIN Entrance) - The main entrance managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, located 11 miles southwest of Folkston, GA off Hwy 121/23.  Stop in the Richard S. Bolt Visitor Center, hike on the upland trails, take a boat tour, visit the Chesser Island Homestead and the Chesser Island Boardwalk.  Okefenokee Adventures (on-site concession operation) offers guided boat tours, canoe/kayak rentals, boat rentals, and a gift shop to visitors.  Okefenokee Adventures also provides food service on-site and is a great place to stop in and pick up any last minute items for your trip in the swamp and to check out what the most recent wildlife sightings have been.  For information about the refuge, call the Visitor Center at 912-496-7836.  For information about guided boat tours and boat rentals, contact Okefenokee Adventures at 912-496-7156.

Secondary entrance:  Kingfisher Landing, 13 miles north of downtown Folkston on US Route 1/GA Hwy 121.  This entrance offers a boat ramp and restroom facilities for day-use and overnight visitors. Access to the Red and Green trails.

Stephen C. Foster State Park (West) - Managed cooperatively between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, this entrance is located 17 miles east of Fargo, off Hwy 177.  Designated as an International Dark Sky Park, this is the place to be for night sky observation! Overnight facilities including cabins, tent and RV campsites are available here. Also, boat trails, fishing, motorboat and canoe rentals, guided boat tours, and interpretive programs are all available to visitors. Visit http://www.gastateparks.org/StephenCFoster or call 912-637-5274 for more information.  Address: 17515 Hwy 177 Fargo, GA 31631

Secondary entrance:  Suwannee River Sill is located eight miles south of the state park.  A great place for fishing and observing wildlife, the Suwannee River Sill is open to driving and also has an area to launch small boats/canoes.  

Okefenokee Swamp Park (North) - A private non-profit facility, this entrance is located eight miles south of Waycross.  Interpretive displays, a boardwalk, boat and train tours, and live animals shows. Visit OkeSwamp.org or call 912-283-0583 for information about programs and entrance fees.  Address: 5700 Okefenokee Swamp Park Road Waycross, GA 31503.  Other fees apply (private entrance).

Know Before You Go

What should I wear when visiting the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge? Plan to wear sneakers or closed-toed shoes if you are going to be walking on the boardwalk (1.5 miles round trip) or taking a boat tour with Okefenokee Adventures.  A hat and sunglasses will probably be something you don't want to forget.  It is always recommended to be prepared for changing weather conditions, you never know when an afternoon storm will pop up!  Be advised that after rain, some of the refuge hiking trails may be flooded/partially flooded. Plan to wear something comfortable when in the outdoors so you can best enjoy your visit to the refuge! 

What should I bring on my trip to the refuge? If you are a kayaker or canoeist, you may want to bring your boat/paddle/pfd and take one of the day-use paddling trails to experience the Okefenokee.  If you are a birder, don't forget your binoculars as there are sure to be opportunities for viewing red-cockaded woodpeckers, sandhill cranes, owls, and others.  Whatever your interest, have a camera with you as Okefenokee is one of the most picturesque and photographic places!  Sunscreen, bug spray, water, snacks, are recommended for EVERYONE!

When is the best time to visit the refuge?  Each season of the Okefenokee is quite different from wildlife you may see to the flowers blooming in the prairies and the upland forests, so visit any time of year!  Generally, for wildlife observation early morning or later in the evening are the best times where they are up and moving around.  Also, the summer months can be quite hot and buggy by the afternoon, so plan an early morning trip during the months of July-early September.  

What is there to do at Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge?  One of the greatest things about Okefenokee is that there is something for everyone to do - the refuge has the Swamp Island Drive (Wildlife Drive), hiking trails, canoe/kayak trails, boat trails (for motorboats less than 10HP), guided boat tours, and the Richard S. Bolt Visitor Center, the Chesser Island Homestead, and the Chesser Island Boardwalk.  For anyone who likes to be outdoors, you will find that Okefenokee is a place that you will want to return to again and again.  

Entrance Fees 

The refuge participates in the Recreation Fee Program, which helps generate funds for the refuge's canoe trails, publications, and maintenance to visitor facilities. Below is a table of our current entrance/user fees for the refuge.  The refuge accepts any of the Interagency (formerly the Golden Eagle passes) passes (Duck Stamp, Senior, Annual, Access, Military). All Interagency Passes and refuge-specific passes are available for sale at Okefenokee Adventures (Suwannee Canal Recreation Area) or the Park Office (Stephen C. Foster State Park).  

 

Type of Pass

Used For

Valid For

Cost

Daily Refuge Pass (good for 7 days!) Private, non-commercial vehicles entering Okefenokee NWR. 7 days  $5.00
Refuge-Specific Annual Pass Private, non-commercial vehicles entering Okefenokee NWR. 1 year  $15 
Commercial day use guide – 9 or fewer people Entry into Okefenokee NWR in a commercial vehicle with a commercial guide Daily $5.00
Commercial day use guide
10-25 people
Entry into Okefenokee NWR in a commercial vehicle with a commercial guide Daily $25.00
Commercial day use guide 26 or more people Entry into Okefenokee NWR in a commercial vehicle with a commercial guide Daily $50.00
Any other commercial vehicle (catering, outfitters, etc.)
25 or fewer people
Entry into Okefenokee NWR in a commercial vehicle Daily $25.00
Any other commercial vehicle (catering, outfitters, etc.)
26 or more people
Entry into Okefenokee NWR in a commercial vehicle Daily $50.00

Other Facilities in the Complex

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is managed as part of the Okefenokee Complex.

Rules and Policies

General Refuge Regulations for Okefenokee NWR

  • All local, State, and Federal regulations apply on the Refuge. Specific Refuge regulations are addressed in Title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations. In addition you are reminded of the following: 
  • Do not feed or harass wildlife. 
  • Camping except with a permit, open fires, feeding or baiting of wildlife, swimming in refuge waters, or entering any area posted with area closed signs is prohibited. 
  • Boats with outboard motors are limited to 10 hp. No airboats or paddleboards allowed. Children under 13 must wear a Personal Floatation Device (PFD). A PFD must be on board for every passenger. 
  • All pets must be properly confined, leashed (10-foot maximum), and under owner control at all times. No pets are allowed in boats, buildings, or boardwalks. 
  • Entry only during posted hours. Closing times strictly enforced. Allow time to return to your vehicle and leave the area before posted closing time. 
  • All visitors accessing the Okefenokee by boat must sign in and out at the nearest kiosk or visitor center. 
  • You must have a valid entrance pass (Daily, Refuge-specific Annual Pass, Interagency Annual Pass, Access Pass, Senior Pass, Volunteer Pass, Military Pass, or Duck Stamp). Display pass or placard clearly on the dashboard of your vehicle. 
  • Stay on marked walking trails and roads. Boaters must stay on marked trails. 
  • Bikes are allowed only on paved roads. Children under 16 must wear a bike helmet. 
  • Littering or dumping of garbage, refuse, sewage, debris, or other wastes or poisons is prohibited. 
  • The use of a spotlight, automotive headlight, or other artificial light to spot, observe, locate, or take any animal on the Refuge is prohibited. 
  • Taking, possessing, injuring, disturbing, damaging, destroying, or collecting any plant or animal (or attempting these actions) is prohibited. 
  • Destroying, defacing, damaging, disturbing, or removing any private or public property, including any natural object or artifact, is prohibited. The use or possession of metal detectors or similar devices is prohibited. 
  • Disturbing or interfering with any person engaged in an authorized activity is prohibited. Engaging in any act of indecency or disorderly conduct (as defined by State or local laws) is prohibited. 
  • Entering or remaining on the Refuge when under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance is prohibited. 
  • Begging or soliciting in any form or conducting a commercial enterprise on the Refuge is prohibited. 
  • Persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuges must comply with all provisions of state and local law. Firearms are prohibited in all buildings. Persons may only use (discharge) firearms in accordance with refuge regulations (50 CFR 27.42 and specific refuge regulations in 50 CFR Part 32). Possessing or discharging fireworks, or explosives is prohibited. • Carrying, using, or possessing cross bows, bows and arrows, air guns, spears, gigs, or other weapons is prohibited. Some of these weapons may be legal to use for hunting or fishing (see current Refuge hunting permit and State regulations). 
  • ATV's (3-wheelers, 4-wheelers, dirt bikes, etc.) are prohibited.
  • Carrying, using, or possessing paintball guns or paintball markers is prohibited.
  • Special Use Permits are required for all commercial activities within the refuge. Special regulations apply to commercial guiding and outfitting.
  • Traveling outside of designated routes of travel is prohibited. Designated routes of travel are shown on the Refuge maps or as posted with road closed, area closed, no vehicle, or foot traffic only signs.
  • Stopping or parking a vehicle (either attended or unattended) on a road, trail, or firelane such that it blocks the free movement of other vehicles is prohibited. 

Locations

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
2700 Suwannee Canal Road (7 Miles Southwest Of Folkston) Georgia Highway 121/23 Folkston, GA 31537-7906

There are three major entrances (and two secondary entrances) to the Okefenokee, each with its own facilities and special character.  From the open prairies of the Suwannee Canal Recreation Area (Main Entrance) to the forested cypress swamp accessed through Stephen C. Foster State Park (near Fargo, GA), Okefenokee is a mosaic of habitats, plants, and wildlife.  Entrance fees are required (and vary) at each entrance. Plan your visit to the Okefenokee by checking out VisitTheSwamp.com

Suwannee Canal Recreation Area (MAIN Entrance) - The main entrance managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, located 11 miles southwest of Folkston, GA off Hwy 121/23.  Stop in the Richard S. Bolt Visitor Center, hike on the upland trails, take a boat tour, visit the Chesser Island Homestead and the Chesser Island Boardwalk.  Okefenokee Adventures (on-site concession operation) offers guided boat tours, canoe/kayak rentals, boat rentals, and a food service to visitors. The Richard S. Bolt Visitor Center is a great place to start your visit to learn about what the refuge has to offer, watch the refuge film and purchase a souvenir from the Friends group nature store! For information about the refuge, call the Visitor Center at 912-496-7836.  For information about guided boat tours and boat rentals, contact Okefenokee Adventures at 912-496-7156.

Secondary entrance:  Kingfisher Landing, 13 miles north of downtown Folkston on US Route 1/GA Hwy 121.  This entrance offers a boat ramp and restroom facilities for day-use and overnight visitors. Access to the Red and Green trails.

Stephen C. Foster State Park (near Fargo, GA) - Designated as an International Dark Sky Park, this is the place to be for night sky observation! Overnight facilities including cabins, tent and RV campsites are available here. Also, access to the refuge boat trails, fishing, motorboat and canoe rentals, guided boat tours, and interpretive programs are all available to visitors. Visit http://www.gastateparks.org/StephenCFoster or call 912-637-5274 for more information.  Address: 17515 Hwy 177 Fargo, GA 31631

Secondary entrance:  Suwannee River Sill is located eight miles south of the state park.  A great place for fishing and observing wildlife, the Suwannee River Sill is open to driving and also has an area to launch small boats/canoes.  

Okefenokee Swamp Park (near Waycross, GA) - A private non-profit facility with Interpretive displays, a boardwalk, boat and train tours, and live animals shows. Visit OkeSwamp.org or call 912-283-0583 for information about programs and entrance fees.  Address: 5700 Okefenokee Swamp Park Road Waycross, GA 31503.  Other fees apply (private entrance).

Driving Directions

Directions to the Main Entrance (Suwannee Canal Recreation Area). Do not depend on GPS to navigate to the refuge. Please follow directions below. 

(East Entrance- Latitude N 30.73870100, Longitude W -82.14000600) 

Directions from Folkston, Georgia: 

  • Turn onto Main Street heading west. Go through two stoplights and across the railroad tracks.  

  • Take a left at the 3rd light onto Okefenokee Trail (Parkway), also called GA 121/23 South.  

  • Drive approximately 7 miles, then turn right at the large, beige “Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge” sign.  

  • Follow this road about 4 miles to the end. When you reach a large parking area, you will see the Richard S. Bolt Visitor Center on your left. Okefenokee Adventures is located next to the boat basin.  

 

Directions from Jacksonville International Airport: 

  • Depart the airport terminal on the airport road which turns into Dixie Clipper Road. Take Dixie Clipper Road to I-95 Northbound.  

  • Follow the directions from Interstate 95, Exit 3 (below), to get to Okefenokee.  

 

Directions from Interstate 95, Exit 3: 

  • Take GA 40 West approximately 22 miles through Kingsland to Folkston.  

  • Where GA 40 dead-ends at a T intersection, turn right onto Third Street then take the next immediate left onto Main Street (courthouse is on your right at turn).  

  • Follow directions from Folkston, GA listed above.  

 

Directions from Atlanta, GA area: 

  • Take Interstate 75 South out of Atlanta.  

  • In Tifton, take US 82 East towards Waycross. Stay on US 82 East all the way into Waycross. 

  • Turn Right onto US 1 South in Waycross heading towards Folkston. You’ll pass the Okefenokee Swamp Park along US 1 South. Continue driving on US 1 to Folkston.  

  • Once you enter Folkston, turn right at 2nd light onto Main Street.  

  • Follow directions from Folkston, GA listed above.  

 

Directions from Brunswick, GA area: 

  • Take I-95 South towards Kingsland.  

  • Take Exit 3 off I-95 and turn West (Right) on GA 40.  

  • Follow directions from Interstate 95, Exit 3 listed above. 

  • Follow directions from Folkston, GA listed above.

 

Directions from Interstate 10 and St. George: 

  • Take exit 48 from I-10 onto FL 121 North.  

  • Drive north on Fl 121 approximately 20 miles until you reach St George, GA. The road designation will switch to GA 121/23 when you cross over the St. Marys River into Georgia.  

  • Proceed north approximately 14 miles until you see the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge” sign. Turn left and follow this road about four miles to the Richard S. Bolt Visitor Center. 

Hours
Refuge Hours - Suwannee Canal Recreation Area (Hours vary for other entrances)
Sunday - Saturday (Closed on Thanksgiving Day and December 25)
Open: one half-hour before sunrise Close:  7:30 pm – March 1 through October 31; 5:30 pm – November 1 through end of February