an alligator in Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

Come discover the vast and beautiful wilderness of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge’s 402,000 acres of wet prairies, cypress forests, and pine uplands make this a wild plant and animal paradise with plenty to see and do.

The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is like no other place on earth. It was established in 1937 to protect migratory birds and other wildlife and is an absolutely stunning place to visit.

Whether you’re a nature buff, outdoor enthusiast, animal lover, or are just looking to experience something fantastic, the Okefenokee delivers.

Suwannee Canal Recreation Area

turtles in Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

Suwannee Canal Recreation Area, the main entrance to the Okefenokee, is located on the reserve’s east side, just a little over an hour northwest of Club Continental.

The area has small lakes and “gator holes” throughout and is well known for its excellent birding and freshwater fishing. Other activities here include hiking, picnicking, canoeing, kayaking, and camping.

The refuge is home to a great variety of animals, many endangered. Sharp-eyed visitors can expect to see gopher tortoises, eastern indigo snakes, Bachman’s sparrows, red-cockaded woodpeckers, alligators, and much more.

Start off at the Richard S. Bolt Visitor Center. Here you can learn all about the refuge through exhibits and the orientation video in the auditorium. Visitor Center staff will be happy to point you in the direction of the sites and activities that interest you most.

Several interpretive trails crisscross the refuge. Okefenokee Adventures, the onsite concessionaire, rents bicycles for trail use, along with canoes and power boats for limited trips along the Suwannee Canal. They also offer guided tours, food, and other services in the refuge.

Chesser Island

Chesser Island is located on the south eastern edge of the Okefenokee. It is named after the pioneering family that lived here from the 1850s to the 1950s. Chesser Island Homestead, the family’s preserved compound, allows visitors to step back in time and witness what life was like for the early swamp settlers.

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

The homestead includes a house, syrup shed, chicken coop, corncrib, hogpen, and smokehouse. Tour the homestead to see the traditional furnishings, implements, and how early settlers lived.

Don’t miss a chance to walk on the Chesser Island Boardwalk, either! This elevated boardwalk leads out over the water to Owls Roost Tower, a 40-foot observation tower that provides expansive views of the Okefenokee.

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

2700 Suwannee Canal Road, Folkston, GA 31537

Visit for seasonal hours and more details. You can also find the refuge on Facebook.