Plan Your Visit

Plan Your Visit

The refuge has so much to see, including several historic sites like the Chesser Island Homestead.  There are 3 main entrances and two secondary entrances, so planning a trip that includes visiting several of these locations will be the best way to experience the "Land of the Trembling Earth"!

2700 Suwannee Canal Road 
Folkston, GA 31537 
Tel: (912) 496-7836 


Swamp Island Drive, Hiking Trails, Chesser Island Boardwalk, are open as following:

JANUARY 10 - Due to Recent Vandalism, Refuge Hours Have CHANGED. Current Refuge Hours are 7:30 am - 4:30 pm. Swamp Island Drive Gate Closes at 3:30 pm.   

OPEN:  ½-hour before sunrise every day

CLOSE:   7:30 pm – March 1 through October 31

   5:30 pm – November 1 through end of February

Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day

Temporary closures may be put in place during prescribed burning operations. Always call the refuge (912-496-7836) or Okefenokee Adventures (912-496-7156) for the most up to date information. 

 Richard S. Bolt Visitor Center Schedule

HOURS: 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

December 1 - February 28/29 - Open Tuesday - Saturday

March 1 - May 31 - Open DAILY

June 1 - August 31 - Open Tuesday - Saturday

September 1 - November 30 - Open DAILY

Questions? Call 912-496-7836

Three Facets of Okefenokee

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 forest cypress swamp at Stephen C. Foster State Park (West Entrance), Okefenokee is a mosaic of habitats, plants, and wildlife.  Entrance fees are required at each entrance. 


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 (concession operation) offers guided boat tours, canoe/kayak rentals, boat rentals, and a gift shop are all available 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.  Boat trails, fishing, motorboat and canoe rentals, guided boat tours, and interpretive programs are all available to visitors.  Also, overnight facilities include cabins, tent campsites, and RV campsites are available (reservations required - visit 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.  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 the fee booth or inside Okefenokee Adventures (Suwannee Canal Recreation Area) or the Park Office (Stephen C. Foster State Park).  
Type of Pass
Used For
Valid For
Daily Refuge Pass (good for 7 days!)Private, non-commercial vehicles entering Okefenokee NWR.7 days $5.00
Refuge-Specific Annual PassPrivate, non-commercial vehicles entering Okefenokee NWR.1 year $15 
Commercial day use guide – 9 or fewer peopleEntry into Okefenokee NWR in a commercial vehicle with a commercial guideDaily$5.00
Commercial day use guide
10-25 people
Entry into Okefenokee NWR in a commercial vehicle with a commercial guideDaily$25.00
Commercial day use guide 26 or more peopleEntry into Okefenokee NWR in a commercial vehicle with a commercial guideDaily$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 vehicleDaily$50.00

Points of Interest

Swamp Island Drive 
This 7.2 mile drive offers opportunities for exploring by car, bicycle, or on foot. Pick up the Swamp Island Drive brochure to learn about different points along the drive. 

Chesser Island Homestead/Boardwalk 
Chesser Island was named for the family who first settled this 592-acre island adjacent to the swamp. Visit the Chesser Homestead to see how the early settlers lived. Then take a walk on the Chesser Island Boardwalk to the Owls Roost Tower to get a great view of the Okefenokee Swamp.

Billys Island 
Accessed through the Stephen C. Foster State Park, this historic island in the Okefenokee has been inhabited by man for generations. Most recently, the Hebard Cypress Company had a lumber camp on the island in 1918, eventually supporting approximately 600 people. This island is the second largest in the swamp and is only accessible by boat.

Wilderness Canoe Trails 
Bring your canoe or rent one from a refuge concession to explore the interior of the swamp on some of the 120 miles of water trails in the refuge.

Upland Discovery Trail 
Walk through pines and palmettos to look for woodpeckers, warblers, and white-tailed deer. Trees marked with a white band indicate they are now or have been a nesting tree for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. You can explore the refuge by hiking on any of the 9 miles of trails located at the East Entrance to the refuge.