Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #188 – A Special Place

Our host Karina asks us to show us the places that are or were special to you and tell us why. I’ve chosen to feature two National Wildlife Refuges located in Southeast Georgia.

Working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mission

The National Wildlife Refuge System is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These public lands and waters across the United states are set aside to protect many species. They are special places to experience nature and to view wildlife. There are over 560 National Wildlife Refuges in the United States.

The Okefenokee Swamp is one of North America’s most unspoiled natural wilderness areas. According to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge web page, “the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge has 353,981 acres of National Wilderness Area within the refuge boundaries.  In addition, the refuge is a Wetland of International Importance (RAMSAR Convention – 1971) because it is one of the world’s largest intact freshwater ecosystems.”

The refuge headquarters are located in Folkston, Georgia. There is also access to the refuge in Georgia’s Stephen C. Foster State Park in Fargo and the Okefenokee Swamp Park in Waycross.

Alligators in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Turtle in Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Swallowtail Butterflies in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Wild Turkey in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Snowy Egret in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

Located just a few miles east of I-95 in Townsend, Georgia, Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge provides habitat for a diversity of wildlife, including nearly 350 species of birds. In the spring, hundreds of wood storks, egrets, and other birds can be seen building their nests in the trees on Woody Pond.

Great Blue Heron in Flight at Harris Neck
Pair of Wood Storks building a nest at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge
Nesting Wood Storks and Great Egrets at Woody Pond
Baby Alligators at Woody Pond

Many thanks to our guest host Karina of Murtagh’s Meadow for the challenge Lens’Artists #188: A Special Place

Throwback Thursday #18 – January 30, 2012

We’re not traveling as much in our fifth wheel anymore so I thought it would be fun to relive some of our most memorable days from previous RV trips. This January I am highlighting our January, 2012 snowbird trip to Florida.

Part 5 of our January, 2012 RV trip around Florida

After enjoying our stay in Alafia State Park, we spent a few days in Salt Springs in the Ocala National Forest before stopping at one of our all time favorite campgrounds on our way north. On this day eight years ago, January 30, 2012, we were camped at Stephen C. Foster State Park in Fargo, Georgia in the Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. It was our last stop before going home.

We had camped there several times before but this stay at the park was quite different from our other visits. In 2011, a wildfire burned for days in the area and a lot of the woods were badly burned.

As we the drove the last few miles to the park entrance we were saddened to see the devastation caused by the 2011 wildfire.

20120130 Stephen C Foster (3)
Stephen C Foster State Park after 2011 wildfire in the Okefenokee Swamp

The fire also destroyed part of the walkway through the nature trail.

20120130 Stephen C Foster (2)
Stephen C Foster State Park after 2011 wildfire in the Okefenokee Swamp

We returned to the park several times after the fire and the area is recovering nicely. There are pictures from our 2018 visit at The Land of Trembling Earth.

It was great fun wandering around Florida that year. Except for a few cold days in the early part of the trip, most of the days were warm and sunny. We even had a few days when we could wear shorts!

We were gone for 36 days and went a total of about 3000 miles and have lots of good memories.

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

Big gator beside the canal next to the road

On St. Patrick’s Day we left Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center in White Springs, Florida and drove about 50 miles to another park named after the famous composer. At the end of the road 17 miles from the nearest highway, Stephen C. Foster State Park in Fargo, Georgia is located in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge .

This is one of our favorite Georgia state parks and one we have returned to over and over through the years. There is just something I love about being surrounded by nature miles away from civilization.

The Okefenokee Swamp is one of North America’s most unspoiled natural wilderness areas. According to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge web page, “the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge has 353,981 acres of National Wilderness Area within the refuge boundaries.  In addition, the refuge is a Wetland of International Importance (RAMSAR Convention – 1971) because it is one of the world’s largest intact freshwater ecosystems.”

Indians who once lived in the area called it Okefenokee which roughly translated means “Land of Trembling Water.” The headwaters of the Suwanee River is located in the Okefenokee Swamp.

Going out in a boat is a great way to see the swamp but there is also plenty to see from land. All the photos in this post were taken as we walked around the campground, marina and on the Trembling Earth Nature Trail which starts at the marina. One section of the trail is a boardwalk through the swamp. This huge gator was sunning on a log beside the boardwalk.

Giant gator beside the boardwalk trail
Giant gator beside the boardwalk trail

The only man made waterway in the park is this canal which leads to the open water of the Okefenokee Swamp.

Canal leading into the Okefenokee Swamp
Canal leading into the Okefenokee Swamp

The canal runs beside the road and alligators are frequently seen sunning themselves on the bank or chilling in the water.

Alligator among the lily pads
Alligator among the lily pads

One of the other campers told me about baby alligators beside the road so off we went in search of baby gators.

Baby gator in the canal beside the road. Do you see the one in the water?
Baby gator in the canal beside the road. Do you see the one in the water?

Baby Gator on Lilly Pad
Baby Gator on Lilly Pad

Besides alligators, many other animals make their home in the Okefenokee.

White Tail Deer at dusk
White Tail Deer at dusk

Wild Turkey
Wild Turkey

Ibis in the swamp
Ibis in the swamp

Egret in the swamp
Egret in the swamp

Butterfly beside the trail
Butterfly beside the trail

Turtle swimming in the marina
Turtle swimming in the marina

Coming up in my next post – a ranger guided boat tour into the Okefenokee.

Okefenokee Landscape

Okefenokee Landscape

Our last stop of our late winter RV trip to Florida and Georgia was Stephen C. Foster State Park in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Fargo, Georgia.

Okefenokee Landscape
Okefenokee Landscape

Lily Pads in the Okefenokee Swamp
Lily Pads in the Okefenokee Swamp

More of the Okenefokee Swamp coming up in my next post.

This is my contribution to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge. For more Landscape photography go to WordPress Photo Challenge: Landscape