Overnight Camping Permits

Wilderness Canoeing

“Wow, what an adventure and a glorious tour of the refuge's diverse habitats and resident wildlife.” – Evan Hirsche, Co-Founder Discover Nature Apps

Overnight Wilderness Camping - Permit Required 

A paddling trip through the Okefenokee is an experience that will be remembered for a lifetime. Alligators glide through tea-colored water. Herons and egrets wade through tall grasses and water lilies. Bears roam through hammocks and islands.   

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is a haven for these and other animals--over 400,000 acres of wet prairies, cypress forests, and pine uplands. Most of the refuge is designated a National Wilderness Area. 

There are seven overnight shelters and two islands available in the swamp's interior. The Wilderness Canoe Brochure is a great publication to aid you in trip planning. Remember: it is your responsibility to be prepared for a wilderness experience which includes knowing what to bring with you.   Check out our brochure with map for a list of recommended items.  

Consider the skill level of your group before choosing a trail!  No motors of any type (electric or gas-powered) are authorized on overnight trips, so plan accordingly.  The swamp terrain is flat with only slight currents; there is no fast water and very little dry land, BUT your paddle will be used every inch of the way as you wind through cypress forests or cross open prairies exposed to the sun and wind. Paddling can be slow-going and strenuous on shallow and/or narrow trails. You may have to get out of your canoe and push across peat blowups or shallow water. Water levels in the Okefenokee sometimes become too low to paddle on certain trails; when this occurs reservation holders will be notified. Swamp conditions may dictate closing certain trails.

One, two, three, and four night Wilderness canoe trips are available (only one and two night trips in March and April). You can make reservations by calling (912) 496-3331 between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m., Tuesday through Thursday (excluding federal holidays). Reservations can be made two months in advance and can be made only by phone; no walk-in reservations will be accepted. Groups are limited to 20 people.  

Recommended Trips - For multi-night trips, there are certain combinations of sites, or itineraries, that are available due to trail conditions, distance between overnight stops, and entry and exit points. Click here for the trips that are recommended (this does not represent what is currently available for booking, but is all of the trip combinations that are possible)

Make a Reservation:  

Reservation hotline: (912) 496-3331
Tuesday through Thursday, 7:00 am  10:00 am, excluding federal holidays.

Permittees will be required to do the following through Recreation.gov

1.  All fees for trips will be collected through Recreation.gov.

2.  Any permit changes to number of individuals in the group (20 max) will be required to be made through Recreation.gov

3.  All permittees will be required to print their own permits and parking placards.  You may print your permit up to 7 days in advance or your trip.  


Know Before You Go

Being prepared is critical for your trip into the Okefenokee. Whether you are staying one night or four, there are many things to consider as you get ready for your trip. 

  • The Wilderness Camping Permit must be carried by each boat in the party. The group leader is responsible for making copies of permit and all associated vehicle placards.
  • Parties must launch before 10:00 am to ensure that the overnight stop is reached before dark each day. All members of the party must be present at time of departure.
  • You must remain at the designated overnight area between sunset and sunrise.
  • Each party must sign-in/out when entering and leaving the swamp. Each entrance has a sign-in logbook either located at the boat ramp or the concession area.
  • Follow the route exactly as it is on your permit. Do not leave the designated trail.
  • Any additions or changes to permit must be completed prior to departure.
  • Portable toilets with disposable bags are recommended. Restroom facilities are available at overnight stops and at day-use shelters. See our map for more detailed locations.
  • Portable camp stoves are required for cooking areas where campfires are not permitted.
  • There will only be one group per overnight platform. However, day-use visitors (canoes and small motors of 10 HP or less) may access a large portion of the Wilderness Trail System and day-use shelters.
  • During the peak visitation season, only two night trips are available to allow for the maximum number of groups to be able to enjoy and experience the Okefenokee.
  • Refer to Georgia Department of Natural Resources for information on fishing and fishing licenses. 
  • Overnight groups should be aware that there is a portage across Floyds Island if you are going on cross swamp trips (i.e. entering at one entrance but departing at another).  The portage is approximately 2/10th of a mile across the island. If your trip is taking you back out the same way you came in, no portage is required, but you may have a short hike to the campsite area.

Rules and Regulations

  • Canoes and/or kayaks ONLY are authorized on overnight Wilderness camping trips.  No motors of any type are authorized.
  • Pets, swimming, motorized vessels, and fires (except in designated areas) are prohibited.
  • Keep trails free from litter. Leave no trace; pack it in, pack it out.
  • Persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms will 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).
  • The collection and/or capturing of any plant and/or animal is strictly prohibited. Do not approach, feed, or harass alligators.
  • Open fires (wood or charcoal) are permitted only at Canal Run, Mixons Hammock, and Floyds Island. Restrictions may be put in place during high fire danger.
  • All licenses, permits, equipment, and items, including vehicles and canoes, are subject to inspection by state and federal officers.
  • All state, federal and county laws regarding alcohol consumption are strictly enforced.
  • Entrance fees are included in the Wilderness Camping Permit. 
  • Commercial guide services are available to assist you with your trip by renting equipment, guiding, and providing shuttle services. The visitor is responsible for contacting these companies to find out about available services offered. Only authorized and permitted commercial services should be used within the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Click here for a list of Permitted Commercial Guides for the refuge.