Okefenokee Overnight Permit Process

Permit Required Sign at the start of the purple trail on Chase Prairie paddling toward the Round Top shelter; Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March 10, 2022. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.  

The only campground within the Okefenokee Swamp is at the Stephen C Foster State Park on the western side of the swamp. But if you want a wilderness camping experience within the interior of the Okefenokee, you’ll need a Wilderness Camping Permit. And during peak seasons, they can be a challenge to obtain.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service maintains a permit hotline to book overnight reservations. It may seem a bit primitive in our modern times to call on a telephone and speak to an actual person rather than book online, but the complexity warrants the current procedure. There are several overnight shelters within the refuge, and a few routes to reach each one. Availability is based on the number of nights you wish to paddle, the availability of overnight platforms, and the route you wish to take (i.e. point-to-point or out-and-back). Having a human being answer the phone truly helps schedule the best available routes.

Exactly two months to the day prior to our March 2022 trip, I started ringing the line to the Okefenokee NWR permit hotline promptly at 7:00 AM. After a couple tries, the phone was answered by a cheery staff member! I told her our range of dates and basic plan. She then suggested one night on Round Top, and a second on Floyd’s Island. I was quite excited to get that two-night permit and thankful to the staff member who helped arrange it. Just remember, call first thing in the morning and exactly two months prior to your planned trip.


  1. I wish my wife and I had done an overnight canoe paddle when we were younger. We used to take one day canoe trips into the swamp over 40 years ago. A night under the stars in the quiet of that vast swamp must be a true joy.

    Liked by 2 people

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