The Natural and Cultural History of the Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge & Florida Caverns State Park (field trip)


Trip Leaders: John Manion, Kaul Wildflower Garden, Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Chip Campbell, Proprietor, Okefenokee Adventures

Friday-Sunday, April 26, 27, 28

Location: Marianna, FL and Folkston, GA

Members $315 | Non-Members $330

This journey to one of the world’s most distinctive ecosystems never fails to impress. Our travels will include driving, hiking, and navigating on the water by motorized boat and canoes/kayaks.

Friday, April 26: The trip will begin by first visiting Florida Caverns State Park to break-up the drive to Folkston, GA. We will spend a couple hours traversing the park’s trails to see some fascinating geology and flora. We will then proceed to Folkston, GA, the location of our motel.

Saturday, April 27: We will leave our motel at 8 a.m. and drive 12 miles to Okefenokee Adventures, where we will meet Chip and Joy Campbell, the proprietors of the concession in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Chip will co-lead the on-the-water parts of our trip with me. We will board a motorized boat and spend the first half of the day exploring select areas of the swamp, stopping frequently to observe and discuss plants, birds, mammals, reptiles and cultural history. Mid-day we will return to Okefenokee Adventures, where participants will either have lunch they brought with them or purchased at the cafe. After lunch we will traverse drive by car, the Swamp Island Drive to the Chesser Homestead built in 1927, which we will tour - getting an idea of what life was like for the family that lived there. Close-by is the boardwalk leading to the Owl’s Roost Observation Tower, which we will hike to view sweeping views of the surrounding areas. On the drive back, we will make several roadside stops, where some of the most interesting plants may be found. That evening, back at Okefenokee Adventures, we will dine on Joy Campbell’s notorious “low country boil,” accompanied by John’s famous (infamous?) homemade cocktails, before retiring to our overnight accommodations back in Folkston.

Sunday, April 28: At 8:00 a.m. we will return to Okefenokee Adventures where we will launch our canoes or kayaks for a more intimate look at portions of The Swamp. Mid-day we will we will have a leisurely lunch on one of the platforms out in the swamp before eventually returning to the landing. Upon returning to our launch site, participants are urged to visit the Park Headquarters (where they sell an excellent selection of nature-related books) and tour the museum, there. We will then say a fond farewell to the “Land of the Trembling Earth” before heading home.

Overnight Accommodations: We have been given a reduced rate at the Western Motel in Folkston. This is an inexpensive ($72.45/room with two double beds, including tax) no-frills place. Make sure when reserving a room to mention you are with Joy Campbell’s Okefenokee group. Western Motel 1207 S 2nd Street Folkston, GA 31537 (912) 496-4711

Trip Cost Breakdown:

Includes: Entrance fees to Swamp Refuge and Florida State Park Cost of guides All equipment (motorized boat, canoes/kayaks, safety equipment) Dinner/drinks Saturday evening Lunch on Sunday Drinks/Snacks while on the water

Does Not Include: Transportation to destinations Motel cost ($72.45/night per room) Meals except low country boil, and lunch on Sunday