A Drive Down Swamp Island Drive

A young juvenile American Alligator laying on peat and lily pads along Swamp Island Drive in the Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March 9 2022. ©www.williamwisephoto.com

From our home in Athens, Georgia, the drive to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is about five hours. Even if we start early, it is mid-afternoon when we arrive. There typically isn’t enough time left in the day to go out on the water. So when visiting the eastern side of the Swamp at the Suwannee Canal entrance, as we did in March 2022, our first Okefenokee excursion is a slow drive along the Swamp Island Wildlife Drive.

This seven-mile drive winds through a beautiful landscape of upland Slash Pine and Saw Palmetto. With car windows down and the MPH at a near crawl, my eyes are always scanning for a Red-cockaded Woodpecker (one day!). Occasionally, Sandhill Crane walk down the middle of the paved drive, and juvenile alligators can always be spotted in the roadside borrow ditches. To the excitement of the first-time visitor, there is often an adult female alligator at the small pond along the roadway, and many times a larger gator basking roadside before reaching the loop.

iNaturalist observation: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/108675137

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