We've just updated our popular America's
Best Adventures feature with 50 new trips, bringing our grand total to 100 iconic escapes (see the map, state-by-state list, and photo gallery, too). So no matter what your pleasure—hiking,
heli-skiing, surfing, climbing, biking, or paddling—we've got the perfect adventure
for you. Check in each day for a new, out-the-backdoor adventure highlighted here on our blog.
By Robert Earle Howells; Photograph by Altrendo/Getty Images
The term “blackwater swamp” gets the mind conjuring reasonable,
swamp-related aversions, such as alligators, cottonmouth snakes,
carnivorous plants, and getting lost in dark tangles of vegetation.
Okefenokee is indeed a swamp of the blackwater variety, but that refers
to its tannic tinge. In truth, the water is clear; well-marked canoe
trails make getting lost difficult; and much of the swamp is wide-open
prairie—more big sky than heart of darkness. As for the vermin … what
would a swamp be without them? And heck, add bears to the list.
traverse of the 438,000-acre (177,252-hectare) swamp is one of the most
profound wilderness experiences in the East. It can be accomplished in
three days of paddling from east to west. Paddle what’s known as Route
7 starting at Suwannee Canal, and you’ll make your way to Chase Prairie
the first night and Floyd’s Island the next (you’re required to camp at
designated shelters). After much prairie paddling, the last mile or so
before Floyd’s is your first taste of the swamp’s cathedral
forests—dark woods of bay trees in this case. As you proceed west
toward take-out in Stephen C. Foster State Park, you get into the
primeval, gothic cypress forests that swallow you whole. The changes of
light, the silence, the crazed croaking of the night frogs, the
improbably clear water, the sandhill cranes, the engulfing woods—it all
adds up to a supremely enchanted adventure.
Need to Know: Avoid summer. Permits and camping reservations can be made at www.fws.gov/okefenokee. Book a three-day canoe rental ($60) and the round-trip shuttle ($159) with Okefenokee Adventures (www.okefenokeeadventures.com).
- Nat Geo Expeditions