Tails & Trails: Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

We believe life is meant for exploring – especially when your furry best friend is at your side. If you want to explore more pet-friendly destinations in 2024, look no further than Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, a 680-square-mile ecological wonder. As one of the most outstanding examples of an ecologically intact swamp in North America, this sprawling sanctuary of natural wonder and mosaic of habitat, plants and wildlife is not just for two-legged adventurers, but is also a paradise for our fourlegged friends. Other than boardwalks used by sun-bathing alligators (we advise you to avoid those), Okefenokee is dog-friendly! They also have a pet-friendly campground if you want to stay the night under the stars, but remember to leave no trace to preserve this pristine landscape.

First things first, let’s talk about responsible pet ownership, as this refuge provides habitat for threatened and endangered species and should be explored responsibly and with sustainability at the forefront of the mind. While Okefenokee is dog-friendly, dogs must be leashed at all times. Also, don’t forget to bring some waste bags to keep the refuge clean for everyone to enjoy. With the basics covered, it’s time to hit the trails!

With three unique swamp entrances, each with its own facilities and special character, you can tailor your experience from a few hours of family fun by land or water to a multi-day immersion in the solitude of the swamp’s 438,000 acres. Okefenokee has guided boat tours, daily nature shows, canoeing, kayaking and boating, cultural sites, educational programs and more. Entrance fees are required (and may vary) at each entrance. Whether you have three hours or three days, stop by the Richard S. Bolt Visitor Center to learn more about all that Okefenokee offers.

A sensory delight for both you and your dog, one of the highlights of Okefenokee is the view from the Okefenokee Swamp Park Observation Tower, the tallest point in the entire swamp. You can climb to the top and be above the treetops for a 360-degree panoramic view of the Okefenokee. If you feel more adventurous, opt for a canoe or kayak excursion. Your furry companion will love the rush of the breeze ruffling their fur from their front-row seat. With their senses on high alert, sniffing out every new scent and hearing every rustle of wildlife, it’s sure to be a blast! We don’t know about you, but we work up an appetite any time we adventure! Luckily, Okefenokee offers plenty of scenic, pet-friendly picnic areas to recharge and refuel with your pup by your side.

Curious about the best time to visit? Each season is different, from the wildlife you’ll see to the flowers blooming, so visiting during any season is recommended. Generally, the summer months can be quite hot and buggy (Georgia, we are looking at you), so plan an early morning trip if you are going from July to early September. Luckily, there is plenty to do that can be spread across several visits no matter what season you choose, and you will find that Okefenokkee is a place that you will want to return to again and again.

Whether you and your dog spotted (or barked at) wildlife together, shared a snack under the shade of a cypress tree or simply enjoyed each other’s company in one of nature’s wonders, your adventure at Okefenokee will be a tail-wagging tale your pup will brag about to friends on your next trip to the dog park. After all, life is meant for exploring – especially when you have your best furry friend by your side. Plan your visit by checking out visittheswamp.com.