The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1937, not only to preserve and protect the wildlife, but also for people to explore and enjoy the nearly 402,000 acres(roughly 300,000 football fields in size) of marsh lands, cypress forests, and lakes. These beautiful wetlands are thriving with wildlife that roam free in their natural habitat – ranging from alligators to tortoises and woodpeckers to white-tailed deer. With it’s rich history, immense wetlands and wildlife galore, there is no surprise as to why the Okefenokee Swamp is a must see when visiting Southern Georgia or Northern Florida.
The Okefenokee Swamp is one of the world’s most well preserved freshwater ecosystems and is a system dependent upon rainfall, making it easily susceptible to drought and wildfire – for this reason these vast swamplands have been in a drought for over two years now. The drought has left many of the trails along the 120 mile system of trails inaccessible by maintenance crews, causing an abundance of plant overgrowth. Many of these trails are still blocked by downed trees from the Honey Prairie Fire in April 2011. Fortunately for the swamp, it’s water levels were recently replenished by the upper edge of Tropical Storm Debbie. This storm was moving at a not-so alarming rate of 3-5 mph and brought very heavy rainfall. The Okefenokee Swamp saw anywhere from 3.2 inches of rainfall all the way up to 20.6 inches near it’s southern edge in Florida. Water levels have not been up this high since February of 2010 and its causing for more and more trails to open back up.
Now is the perfect time to head over to the swamp and take advantage of one (or more) of their guided tours. With a plethora of knowledge and experience, each guide brings a different perspective to your tour. Whether you take a 90 minute boat ride along the historic Suwanee Canal or a sunset kayak tour to witness the swamps magical golden sunset, you are sure to have an unforgettable experience.