Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is Georgia’s counterpart to Florida’s Everglades. In the deep south of Georgia, just off the Florida border, the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1937, protects the Okefenokee Swamp over an area of more than 1,000 km². More than 12,000 alligators and many other wild animals frolic here between wobbling layers of peat and watercourses. The word Okefenokee comes from the language of the Hitchiti Mikasuki indigenous people and means something like trembling earth or bubbling water.
Wetlands of international importance
The area of today’s Wildlife Refuge was already around 2,500 BC. BC colonized by the Seminoles. After these were sold around 1840 and subsequent attempts to drain the swamp area for rice and sugar cultivation by building the Suwanee River failed, the area was used for logging. However, the value of this unique swamp area was quickly recognized at the beginning of the 20th century. President Roosevelt himself made it a wildlife refuge in 1937. The swamp is one of the largest intact freshwater ecosystems in the world and has been named Wetland of International Importance by the UN.
Directions & activities
You can reach the Wildlife Refugium via three different entrances: an entrance on the east side, the main entrance including visitor center on the west side and one in the north. Once you have arrived in the protected area, you have the opportunity to hike the area on the well-developed wooden walkways or various trails. You will be amazed by the variety of fascinating wild animals. Since there are no fences on the site, it can happen that one of the many animals greets you directly at the parking lot.
The 14 km Swamp Island Drive you can also use bicycles. However, a visit in a kayak, canoe or boat is recommended. In the park there are countless trails on the water, which are almost 200 km long – 70 km of which can also be used by motor boats.
- Transporthint: Overview of Georgia, including population, history, geography and major industries.
There are also seven moorings in the swamp area with wooden camping platforms. During a guided boat tour from the eastern entrance near Folkston, the guides give interesting background information and explain flora and fauna. The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is a dream for all outdoor fans and adventurers, especially on cooler days, when the alligators between the water lilies doze in the sun to recharge their batteries.
Highlights in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
- Richard S. Bolt Visitor Center
Visit the Richard Bolt Visitor Center, which is easiest to reach through the west entrance of the retreat. Here you can get wonderful information about the protected area.
- Chesser Island
Towards the end of the 19th century, WT Chesser and his family settled on a piece of land on the eastern edge of the retreat. In 1958 the last of the Chessers left what is now called Chesser Island, approximately 2.4 km² of land. The family’s old house still stands on the island today. Chesser Island can be reached via the boardwalk.
- Guided tours
Guided tours in the Okefenokee Conservation Area are only offered by Okefenokee Adventures. Whether by canoe, motorboat, in the morning, late in the evening or for several days – all your wishes are served here.
Info about the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Area: 1.67 km²
Visitors: 400,000 in 2007
Northeast Mountains, Georgia
The Appalachian Mountains, the large mountain range that stretches across the entire eastern part of the USA, determine the landscape in northeast Georgia. Wide forests, gently rolling hills and beautiful natural landscapes are the hallmarks of this region. At 1,450m Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia, there is a lookout tower that offers breathtaking panoramic views.
- Timedictionary: Offers a list of largest cities in Georgia.
Bavarian flair in Georgia
In Helen you will find typical southern German flair. When the former lumberjack town was in danger of becoming a ghost town in the 1960s, the inhabitants of Helen saved the existence of the town by implementing a brilliant idea. They made it a typical Alpine town. There are Bavarian-style buildings in Tannenweg or Edelweißstraße, and a large Oktoberfest is held here every October. Only a few kilometers away from Helen is the old gold mining town of Dahlonega. Until the middle of the 20th century, thousands of people rushed by the gold rush perforated the Appalachian Mountains. Today you can try gold panning yourself and visit old mines.
Of course, the green mountains with their many lakes also offer many opportunities to be active. Rent a bike or a boat and drive through the fairytale scenery. Many wineries are located in the north of Georgia, so that real wine connoisseurs will get their money’s worth here.
Highlights Northeast Mountains
The small mountain town used to be a mecca of gold mining. You can still try your luck here today and then stroll in the streets.
Helen was modeled on a typical Bavarian city to combat emigration and financial problems. Today you can follow genuine Bavarian traditions, including the Oktoberfest.
- Unicoi State Park
Experience the magnificent mountain scenery from a particularly beautiful perspective.
Information about Northeast Mountains
Highest point: Brasstown Bald (1,450 m)
Beginning of the gold rush: approx. 1829
Area: 343 km²
Travel time: 3 days recommended
Airport: Hartsfield-Jackson Intern. Airport
Antebellum Trail, Georgia
- Antebellum – that stands in the United States for the time before the great American Civil War, which raged from 1861 to 1865. The Antebellum Trail shows America, which was left untouched by the great war and today exudes this unique southern flair, which locals and tourists love so much. The small, dreamy towns along the way tell a lot about this time.
America before our time
One grand villa is lined up next to the other. You will have difficulty determining the most beautiful among them. In some there are small museums, in others you can spend the night, others you can simply admire. By the way, every spring the private houses also open their doors and can be visited. Since the cherry blossom festival in Macon is also held from late March to early April, a visit during this time is particularly worthwhile.
From Athens to Macon
The starting point of your trip is Athens, which has produced music greats such as B-52 and REM as a musical center. Many clubs and bars in the university city will delight you with the latest music. The Antebellum Trail offers more than good music and beautiful architecture. You can discover Indian culture at the Ocmulgee National Monument, the history of aviation with historic aircraft up to the modern jet is shown in the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins and many gardens inspire with their colorful colors. Fort Valley is home to Georgia’s oldest peach plantation, where you can see how the state fruit is brought around the world.
Highlights Antebellum Trail
- State Botanical Garden Georgia
Beautiful paths lead through the beautifully landscaped gardens in Milledgeville
- Elder Mill Covered Bridge
This covered bridge, which is otherwise only known from Vermont, leads over Big Rose Creek.
- Eagle Tavern Museum
One of the oldest remaining buildings on the trail is now an exciting museum.
- The Hay House in Macon and Heritage Hall in Madison
Two of the most beautiful historic house museums along the trail. The Hay House is also called the “Palace of the South” and its Italian Renaissance style did not impress fine society in the year it was built in 1855, but still impresses visitors today. The history of the changing residents and the time before the civil war is brought to life in Madison’s Heritage Hall – by the way, Madison has often been voted the most beautiful small town in the USA.
- Historic Trolley Tours
In Millegdeville you drive an old trolley to the most beautiful houses and villas in the area.
Info about Antebellum Trail
Historic cities: 7
Length: over 100 miles
Travel time: 3 days recommended
Airport: Hartsfield-Jackson Intern. Airport