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the dock area and smaller tour boat
Stephen C. Foster State Park - Boat Tour
Closest available address
Park is 18 miles east of Fargo on Highway 177.
Call park to confirm tour times, generally at 10am and 2pm.
Best time to visit
Fall, Winter, Spring
The boat tour at Stephen Foster State Park is a 90 minute narrated tour of the Okefenokee Swamp. The motor boat departs and returns to the park via a canal that connects to the swamp. The tour spends equal time in an open water environment and a forested part of the swamp replete with cypress trees. A park ranger operated the boat and narrated the tour.
The Okefenokee Swamp formed about 5,000 years ago behind sand dunes and ridges left behind from the Atlantic Ocean that once bordered the eastern side of the refuge. The swamp is fed by rain and can burn extensively during times of drought. It’s wet enough though to form the headwaters of two major rivers. The swamp is mostly protected in the 402,000 acre Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, of which about 350,000 are wilderness. The swamp has a wide diversity of plants and animal life but is probably best known for tens of thousands of alligators and vast populations of migrating and resident birds.
There were a couple of tour boats; a smaller one accommodated up to 5 people and a larger one could seat about 10. The small boat can navigate narrower passages around the cypress trees. The boat operator was low key and pleasant. He spent equal time talking and being quiet. It was a good balance with time to learn about the swamp and time to reflect. He demonstrated the purity of the tea colored water by drinking a cup of it but no one else volunteered to partake. As for wildlife, there were alligators at every turn. Vultures and osprey could be seen fairly regularly and wading birds were common as well. This tour ranks a bit higher than the one on the eastern side of the refuge because the cypress tree habitat was more interesting. The tour would make a good family excursion for those interested in nature. Reservations are a good idea. Also, the park periodically offers a weekend nighttime tour for a different type of wildlife experience.
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Stephen C. Foster State Park
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