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About the Area

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, over 600,000 visitors a year come to this exotic region in the southeastern tip of the State of Georgia. That is probably conservative. On the fringes of this boggy landscape that are outside federal property boundaries, there are farmsteads and hamlets, where residents have hunted and fished in the swamp for many generations. Most of the swamp was purchased by the Roosevelt Administration in 1936 to prevent the extinction of its wildlife and remaining stands of virgin Bald Cypress trees.

Tourists come from around the world to see the swamp's famous alligators, snakes, aquatic birds, cypress trees, giant longleaf pines, and Jurassic Period terrain. The visitor's center does have some exhibits related to the Native American occupation of the region but presents an incomplete story. Tourists do not see any evidence of Native American culture in the swamp as it appears today. They assume that its ancient inhabitants were few in number and left the region as soon as Europeans arrived on the scene.

Geologists believe that the swamp was formed at least 6-8,000 years ago when a sandy barrier island trapped water in a bay, as the South Atlantic coastline retreated eastward. Probably, for much of its existence, the swamp looked something like Lake Okeechobee in southern Florida. Over time, vegetation created islands in the shallow lake, upon which groves of trees could thrive; particularly Bald Cypress. Even today, some of the vegetative islands are so thin that they vibrate when walked on.

Lure & Legends

Long before Europeans or their descendants discovered "The Land of Trembling Earth", the indigenous tribal peoples who lived in and around the Okefenokee held fear and reverence for certain supernatural aspects of Okefenokee swamp. The earliest pioneer settlers living around the swamp, all had stories of unexplained phenomena and strange occurrences related to the Okefenokee.

Okefenokee NWR Information

The Great Okefenokee Swamp is one of North America's most unspoiled, fascinating, and precious natural areas. It is the largest, intact, un-fragmented, freshwater, and black water wilderness swamp in North America.

"Okefenokee" was the name used by the indigenous Creeks and was believed to mean, "Land of Trembling Earth". As it turns out, that's a popular but very loose and many believe incorrect translation. "Oka" means water in the Hitchiti Creek language and "Fenoke" means shaking in Hitchiti. So the original meaning of Okefenokee is more like "Waters Shaking" not the commonly held "Land of Trembling Earth."

Water Lily

News & Info

Fire at this place is healthy, beneficial and a very normal occurrence for the Okefenokee Swamp. We have some fires here in the swamp every year. The most recent big fires will greatly improve aquatic and upland habitats and the overall long term health of the Okefenokee ecosystem.