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Okefenokee Wilderness

General Location Maps Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws Trip Planning Images

General Trip Planning Information

For more information on the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge Wilderness Area visit the Okefenokee Refuge website or call 912-496-7336.

A canoe trip through the Okefenokee Wilderness takes planning. The experience of solitude is emphasized. You may or may not encounter other parties on your trip. Be prepared for a trip, which may include temperature extremes, precipitation, high winds and high humidity. The swamp is flat water with no current. Logs may be across trails and floating vegetation may slow your progress.

Visitors are required to stay on the designated trails. Do not be tempted to explore closed areas. It is easy to become disoriented and become lost.

It is strongly recommended that one entering the Okefenokee Wilderness brings their own drinking water. The tannic water was once thought to be safe to drink and hauled in barrels for sailors out at sea to drink, but it can not be trusted today. Visitors, boats, and atmospheric deposition have compromised water quality.

Due the water environment and lack of high ground, please carry some type of portable toilet with you.

Recreational Opportunities

At the Okefenokee NWR, visitors can have a lot of fun. Activities include the following:

  • Canoe or kayak on over thirty miles of water trails
  • Observe and photograph wildlife
  • Fish for over five species of freshwater game fish
  • Hike over 16 miles of trails
  • Hunt (during state hunt seasons)
  • Camp on a Wilderness platform in the swamp (with advance reservations)
  • Take a guided boat tour of the swamp
  • Watch an award-winning orientation film in the refuge Visitor Center
  • Take part in special events and programs (Gator talks, Nocturnal Nature Hikes, and a variety of environmental education programs for school groups)
  • Drive a scenic 9-mile wildlife drive
  • Visit a restored Swamper Homestead

Climate and Special Equipment Needs

Visitors to the Okefenokee Wilderness should arrive prepared for the south Georgia seasons. Spring and fall are the most heavily visited times, as temperatures and insects are moderate. Summer can be hot and humid, with biting insects making a concerted show. Winter days can be extremely cold and windy.

Water levels fluctuate. During dry times, it may be necessary to pull your canoe through some low areas. Refuge staff try to keep up on trail conditions but can not warn the visitor of every difficult situation. A push pole is a good tool to carry with you.

Safety and Current Conditions

Visitors are encouraged to remember that they are entering a wilderness area, part of the National Wildlife Refuge System. All animals encountered are wild and free to roam at will. Visitors should come prepared for seasonal weather and biting insects. First aid kits and water are strongly recommended when entering the wilderness area. Sign in and out stations are located at all entrances and are required for wilderness visitors.

When staying overnight within the Wilderness, a clean camp is required. Raccoons, alligaotrs and ants are common around platforms. Do not encourage their stay with food scraps and crumbs left behind. Although there has not been any human - bear conflicts within the swamp, black bears do traverse the swamp. Please store strong smelling food such as fish in a sealed container.

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