Note:The entrance to the campground is not the same as the park entrance, so check the directions before you go! Also, the gate closes at 5pm and there is NO way to get in after that time, and there are no gas stations or grocery stores for miles, so make sure you have all your supplies before you go. Oh, and there’s no internet here — nothing at all.
Typically when we travel for a few weeks at a time, we both pick one place we definitely want to go and then work around those 2 stops. My pick this trip was the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. The swamp itself is huge — 402,000 acres, and the Stephen C. Foster State Park is the only campground within the boundaries of the park. The entrance to the campground is not the same as the park entrance, so check the directions before you go!
If you’ve been to the Hoh Rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula, the drive into this campground is really similar. It’s an 18 mile, narrow-ish 2 lane road off a slightly larger 2 lane road with nothing in site but land. There are no assigned sites, you reserve a site size, check in at the office (you drive PAST the campground to get to the office) and they’ll tell you what color sign post to look for. We got a pull-through site across from the staff cottages, it was pretty packed when we were there — I think there were only 2 sites to pick from.
There are a few small trails to walk around —
but the real winner is the water.
You can rent kayaks or canoes and try your luck in the swamp on well marked waterways. A few things: there are over 12,000 alligators in the swamp but I didn’t expect to see as many as we did –less than 6 feet from the canoe/kayak dock regularly sits a mom and her babies. Maybe it’s the city girl in me, but I was not interested in getting that close, especially with an inflatable kayak, so we opted for the $15, very cool, 60-90 minute guided boat ride with one of the parks naturalists. Her name was Sarah and she was awesome — go on a ride with her if you can. Oh, and she confirmed my no-kayaking decision was a good one by telling me that people fall in the water all the time. No thank you.
We saw over 25 alligators during the boat ride — the photos don’t do it justice so here’s a video Deke took (make sure to put your setting on HD and turn your volume down if you don’t want to hear the music):
Thankfully he added music so you don’t hear my mini-scream when the one starts flailing around next to the boat!