Phil Parker (tigertoy) wrote,
Phil Parker

Florida trip: Okefenokee Swamp Park

On Monday, July 25, I spent a few hours at Okefenokee Swamp Park in Waycross, GA.  This is the public entrance to theOkefenokee on the north side, and the one that is close to a town where there's a place to stay.  It is also the one that is privately run; the other areas are a state park and a federal facility.  It was a bit too much of a tourist attraction for my taste, and perhaps I would have been happier if I'd gone to the federal entrance, but it was an enjoyable experience on the whole.  The Okefenokee is very beautiful, as well as being a fascinating natural area.  I do recommend visiting the place if you have the chance, even if you have to go in the middle of summer when it is godawful hot.

Visitor's CenterTo set the stage, here's a picture of the visitor's center from the parking lot.  It gives some idea of what to expect from the park:  the improved areas are fairly heavily improved, mostly fairly tastefully, and it's moderately expensive.

The first thing I did in the park was to walk through the area where they have some captive animals.

Otter at the top of a slide
Otters are always a crowd pleaser.  This one wasn't really doing a whole lot, but she was still cute, being an otter.
The also have a cage with several red-tailed hawks, with a sign which says the birds are animals which had come into a wildlife rehab facility and could not be released to the wild for various reasons.

As I walked toward the first scheduled activity I'd paid for with my admission, I saw an alligator in the water. Shortly afterward, I saw a warning sign that was oddly appropriate.
Alligator with Danger Alligators sign

Black Swallowtail on fuscia flowerAfter I passed the alligator, I spent a few minutes getting baked in the butterfly garden.  I did get pictures of this lovely black swallowtail on a zinnia (I guess it's a zinnia).Dragonfly 1 

They called the flower garden a butterfly garden, but I think they really should have called it a dragonfly garden.
Dragonfly 2
Dragonfly 3

Snake Man 2
Snake Man 1
The reptile show was the next thing on the agenda. A retired teacher came in, showed off some snakes, and told us about the snakes in the area. It was pretty cool, though there were to be better reptile shows later in the trip.

Water Lily 1

Water Lily 2
Water Lily 3
One of the most beautiful parts of the whole Okefenokee is the water lilies. Above is a closeup of a flower in the black water. The others give a hint of the surroundings the flowers grow in.

Here's a big ol' turtle that was in a pool near the boat dock building that people were feeding.

Spider 1
Spider 2
There were a fair number of spiders around the swamp, though not as many or as big as I would see later on the trip.

Magnolia Bay flower
The Magnolia Bay is a fairly common tree in the area which still has fairly large, showy flowers at this time of year.

White flowerI'm not sure what kind of flower this is, but it's pretty.  It's not a wild flower, it was planted in a garden.

Tourist trainThis train, the Lady Suwanee, is the most touristy thing about the whole place. Despite its appearance, it's diesel powered, not steam. The train ride is the only part of the tour package that I wouldn't have minded missing. The stuff the train passes are more exhibits of human history than the local nature, and included in the train ride is a half hour stop in a kitschy store where you can buy locally-produced souvenirs. As tourist traps go it wasn't bad, but it wasn't part of the nature experience I was visiting for.

Reflecting CanalOne of the wonderful things about the Okefenokee is the reflections off the water.  The water is unusually dark and for the most part very still, making a perfect natural mirror.  This picture looking down a canal shows typical vegetation and demonstrates the mirror effect.

Seedling growing out of a tree
Another interesting phenomenon in the swamp is that plants grow wherever they can, including on other plants. This little seedling is growing out of the trunk of a cypress tree.

Cypress Knee 1
Cypress Knee with moss
Another famous feature of swamps, at least of swamps with cypress trees, is cypress knees. Here are a couple of unusual knees; on the left, one with other tree seedlings growing on it, and on the right one with really unusual moss.

Blue Dragonfly from the front

Two Swallowtails
As my photo tour winds down, I have an unsual dark blue dragonfly from an unusual angle, and a pair of black swallowtails that appeared to be courting. At least I guess they are the same species -- they don't look quite the same.

Spanish Moss 1
Spanish Moss 2
To close, I leave you with some pictures of one of the most iconic botannical phenomena of the South -- Spanish moss. Spanish moss isn't moss at all, it's a form of lichen.
Spanish Moss 4
Spanish Moss 3
Tags: pictures, travel
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