Friday, June 15, 2012

Stephen C. Foster State Park - Fargo, Georgia

Boat Tours lead into the Okefenokee Swamp
Located 18 miles from Fargo in the edge of the famed Okefenokee Swamp, Stephen C. Foster State Park is one of my favorite Georgia State Parks.

Popular with lovers of the massive 438,000 acre swamp and the night time skies of the South alike, the park is named for 19th century American composer Stephen C. Foster, who penned the much loved Florida State Song, "Suwannee River" ("Old Folks at Home"). It covers 80 acres and is located on a natural island in the Okefenokee.

While most visitors come for its guided boat tours; boat, canoe & kayak rentals, and the access it provides to the water trails that wind through the swamp, the park is actually a great place to learn about the history and ecosystems of the Okefenokee Swamp.

Interpretive Center at Stephen C. Foster State Park
An often overlooked feature (on the day I visited I had the place to myself) is the park's interpretive center. Basically a museum of the natural and cultural life of the Okefenokee. The displays include animals, snakes, insects and birds (some of them live, others mounted) along with both audio and written descriptions of them and their importance to the ecosystems of the swamp. Other displays explain how the swamp was formed and help visitors understand its natural importance.

The interpretive center also features artifacts, maps, historic photographs and other displays that detail the cultural history of the swamp, from prehistoric times to the modern era. There are exhibits on the Native Americans who once lived in the Okefenokee, on the Second Seminole War and on the early settlers and loggers who once made lives for themselves in the "Land of the Trembling Earth." Among the artifacts on display are weapons, tools and an original Okefenokee moonshine still.

Boat Rentals and Guided Tours leave the Park Marina
 The park also offers the Trembling Earth nature trail, a primarily boardwalk trail that winds through the edge of the Okefenokee. Interpretive panels point out a variety of animals, trees and plants while also explaining the history of the swamp.

Because the park is located so far from the lights of towns and cities (18 miles from the nearest town, Fargo), it is known for its spectacular night skies. For stargazers, it is a great place to come and watch meteor showers and just see the stars. The park has a variety of activities that help visitors learn about the skies at night.

To learn more about Stephen C. Foster State Park, please visit

To learn more about the Okefenokee Swamp, please visit

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