Camping and Canoeing in the Okefenokee Swamp

by swampnut

I Recently Introduced My College Age Son to the Adventure of Camping Within the Great Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

I have sought to teach my children to not fear the swamp and its mysteries, but instead to learn how to enjoy it. As a part of that I have been sure to teach my sons about how to go camping in it. In the early part of 2013, I was able to introduce my youngest son, now in college, to the beauty of the great swamp. As someone who had been raised overseas and not around the swamp, he wanted to learn about it but was also nervous about entering its wilderness areas.

My son taking the lead as we head down the Suwanee Canal
My son taking the lead as we head dow...
Clint Bowman
One of the many trail markers
One of the many trail markers
Clint Bowman
Coffee Bay camping shelter
Coffee Bay camping shelter
Clint Bowman
A not quite so hidden observer.
A not quite so hidden observer.
Clint Bowman
Sunrise
Sunrise
Clint Bowman
A turtle catching the early morning's sun
A turtle catching the early morning's...
Clint Bowman
An uneasy peace?
An uneasy peace?
Clint Bowman
I think we interrupted his breakfast.
I think we interrupted his breakfast.
Clint Bowman

Want to learn more interesting stuff about the Okefenokee? This book is also available in print form.

Okefenokee Tales: The Okefenokee is one of the world's great wonders and is filled with mystery.

This eBook is mostly composed of previously published articles I wrote for Yahoo Contributor's Network or Bubblews.com. The Yahoo site is no longer functioning. I have withdrawn...

View on Amazon

The Coffee Bay Run

A short 6 mile canoe trip with plenty of cool scenery

Being raised on the edges of the great Okefenokee Swamp has its advantages. For me, one of these was having a father who knew the swamp and taught his son to respect it and enjoy it. He had lived as a child along the edges of the swamp for several years while his father worked as a watchtower man for the Georgia Forestry department during the years of the Great Depression and immediately after. As a result of his efforts, I learned to hunt along its edges and to both fish and camp within its environs. On at least two occasions I have canoed all the way through the Okefenokee camping overnight for 2-3 nights each trip.

In the early part of 2013, I was able to introduce my youngest son to the adventure and fun of camping in the great swamp. Our trip included my son and my wife and originated from the federally run park entrance at the Suwannee Canal entrance near Folkston, Georgia. By planning ahead and securing a camping permit from the headquarters office of the Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge, we were able to paddle in about 6 miles and camp overnight at the Coffee Bay shelter along the canal. My wife and I shared a canoe while our college soccer playing youngster managed a one man canoe quite well.

The run to Coffee Bay is a pleasant trip and during the winter months is fairly insect free. It is a good family outing for those who are physically capable of paddling a canoe for medium distances. The camping will be on a hard surface and that can make for some uncomfortable sleeping for some people, however, the novelty of it and the opportunities to see many types of birds and other wildlife make it worthwhile.

The total cost of the permit and renting of canoes is usually less than $60 for an overnight trip for one canoe with 2 people in it. Kayaks and one man canoes are also available. The Park Service has done a good job of posting highly visible trail markers as well, for those of us who might be afraid of making a wrong turn in such a vast watery and overgrown region. For most of us, one trail would look like any other. The reassuring trail markers can certainly make a big difference in a novice swamp camper's stress levels!

At each campsite there is usually a "traveler's log" where previous campers left notes of what they saw and/or experienced at the campsite. While we saw Sandhill cranes at a distance, turtles, alligators, and woodpeckers and an assortment of other birds... previous campers had seen a black bear and a bobcat! Unfortunately, we missed that excitement. Though, we were entertained throughout the night by bull gators who roared their challenges continuously in the distance. And by the hooting of owls.

Those who would like to try such a trip should begin the process 3-4 weeks in advance by calling the refuge office to make a reservation for a camping spot along one of the many trails marked out through the swamp. Information can be found at their internet website. Be warned though! Bring your camera and a sense of adventure, as you will surely need both!

 

Updated: 06/17/2015, swampnut
 
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swampnut on 07/18/2015

This is an adventure, but not so rugged as some other places.

WriterArtist on 07/18/2015

I have always felt good in Nature's lap but haven't ventured such adventures. I think one needs to be brave and be ready with the right travel gear. Camping and canoeing gives a feel of adventure traveling.

swampnut on 07/04/2015

I have to admit, it's not bad!

MBC on 07/03/2015

Looks like fun and they actually provide a wooden support and a roof! Now that's luxury camping if I ever saw it.

Phillygirl on 06/22/2015

Ok, thanks for the info. Maybe I will get my rear in gear.

swampnut on 06/19/2015

Phillygirl, I am not sure. You can research it. The independent publishing industry has exploded in the last few years and there are many options out there. I researched through several. I chose CreateSpace because of the distribution options via Amazon. BookBaby seems to have really good options, but their basic charge is a $99 deal and then they have more expensive options. My daughter-in-law used it and said it was a good choice. I am just too cheap to pay for it. Smashwords is another good option if you want to do an ebook, also.

Phillygirl on 06/18/2015

Is there a place that'll do what createspace does, but allow photos?

swampnut on 06/18/2015

Patricia, I have used Amazon's CreateSpace to self publish, as did my wife. Both books turned out really good, but you do all the work if you use their free version. Then you also have to do all the promotion of the book. It'll take you a few hours to work through the process, but it is not all that difficult. BookBaby offers a cheap intro deal for self publishing where they can do a lot for you, but I was too cheap to use them. We went to a local printer/publisher and they wanted about $3,000 to do what CreateSpace did for free. Only difference is that with the free version of CreateSpace you can't have photos in the book. If you use Amazon's Kindle version to do an eBook, you can include photos... but then you still don't have a print version. Hope it goes well for you!

Patricia Sicilia on 06/17/2015

This is great. I did pieces like this for Yahoo AC, too, (I was a travel writer) but I also kept a journal when I went camping and wrote humorous serial stories about them. I want to put them into a book and sell them in the areas I camp. The camp offices and area gift shops sell books written by locals about the areas and such, and I scoop them all up. Hoping people would like to read funny stories about camping in the nearby state parks. Really thinking hard about it right now, but I know I'd most likely have to self publish and that scares me, and plus I don't know if I can afford the upfront. Anyway, thanks for this.

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