Okefenokee Swamp Park
Okefenokee Swamp ParkCoordinates: , located near Waycross, Georgia, United States, is the northern most entry point to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. The Okefenokee Swamp, is the most extensive blackwater swamp in North America and covers over 438,000 acres. The Okefenokee Swamp Park, Inc., which began operation in October 1946, receives no federal or state funding and operates as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Located six miles southeast from Waycross, Georgia, the park serves as a convenient access point to the "Land of the Trembling Earth," and prides itself on being a leader in both Ecotourism and Education. The park allows visitors to get an casual and up-close look at some of the swamp's infamous residents such as the American Alligator, river otter, turtles, snakes, birds-of-prey, and more. Priding itself on allowing everyone to get an introduction into the Okefenokee Swamp, the Okefenokee Swamp Park allows visitors to take a boat ride, train ride, see a nature show and walk out to a 90-foot observation tower all in 3-1/2 hours. A 45-minute boat ride winds down Indian trails to a 90-foot observation tower which is also accessible by a narrow, winding boardwalk. The "Eye on Nature" show gives visitors the opportunity to hear about, and see first-hand, some of the native snake species, as well as to touch a baby alligator. The Lady Suwannee train meanders through southern pine forests on the outskirts of the wetlands and visits Pioneer Island, where visitors can view and walk through a recreated early swamp homestead.
Visitors to the park can choose to purchase a boat ride package which will allow them a seat aboard one of their Carolina Skiff boats as the guest rides along the water trails. This experience allows the guest to see wildlife in its native setting of a tree canopy lined waterway. It is not uncommon to see water snakes, alligators, fishing spiders or river otters. Boat tours typically run every hour on the hour from 10:00am to 4:00pm.
All general admission guests and boat tour package guests will be scheduled a train ride aboard the Lady Suwanee or the work train. This guided train ride takes the guest along the edge of the wetlands, past replica Native American buildings and stops at Pioneer Island. Train tours typically run at 11:00am, 1:00pm, 3:00pm and 4:30pm.
Eye on Nature show
Visitors to the Okefenokee Swamp Park get to observe the "Eye on Nature" show with paid admission to the park. This educational wildlife show lets the guest get up close with various snakes, turtles and baby alligators. The Naturalist staff lead these 20-30 minute educational talks several times throughout the day so that each and every guests gets the opportunity to learn more about the wildlife of the swamp. Typically these shows take place at 12:00pm, 2:00pm and 4:00pm.
As a special treat during the months of April-August, on Saturday's the 2:00pm Eye on Nature Show is typically replaced with an Alligator Facts & Feeding show, where guests get a chance to observe park staff feeding the American Alligators in captivity a meal of fish or chicken. Along with the feeding, the Naturalist staff gives out various facts about the Okefenokee Swamp's most recognizable residents.
Annual light show
Every year, since 2000, the Okefenokee Swamp Park puts on one of the largest light shows in south Georgia. The park staff starts transforming the park into a winter wonderland in early October so that everything can be ready for the first light show night on "Black Friday." The number of nights the light show is in operation varies each year, but highlights include visits from Santa, musical performances from local choirs and the light show train ride.
Each fall and spring, the Okefenokee Swamp Park holds one of its more popular programs with Professor Don Berryhill's "Okefenokeology" course. This five-week course is a wonderful learning experience into everything that is the "Land of the Trembling Earth." Topics include: Wildlife, Flora/Fauna, Early Settlers/Native Americans, Crocodillians 101 and the burning of "swamp gas" collected from the black water.
- "Boat Tour Packages – Include all General Admission | Okefenokee Swamp". okeswamp.com. Retrieved 2017-08-26.
- "Swamp Park Train | Okefenokee Swamp". okeswamp.com. Retrieved 2017-08-26.
- "Eye on Nature | Okefenokee Swamp". okeswamp.com. Retrieved 2017-08-26.
- "Fall 2017 Okefenokeology Form" (PDF).
- "Fall 2017 Okefenokeology Curriculum" (PDF).