Located in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, the Okefenokee Swamp Park is a convenient point of entry and a magnificent show-window for the “Land of the Trembling Earth.” The park’s lily-decked water trails, with their miraculously reflective waters mirroring the overhanging beauty, lead to all points in this vast wilderness of islands, lakes, jungles, forest and prairies. Boat tours on original Indian waterways, wilderness walkways, Pioneer Island and native animals in their own habitat, all combine to weave a spell of pioneer American life.
Headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Mary’s Rivers, Okefenokee is a National Wildlife Refuge which covers nearly a half million acres.
Alligators are closely related to reptiles that lived between 65 and 225 million years ago. The name alligator came from the Spanish El Lagarto, which means “The Lizard.”
The American alligator is the largest of all members of the crocodile order in North America, growing sometimes to over 14 feet, with the record being 19 feet 2 inches. General coloration is black but light markings of youth may persist into adulthood. Alligators can weigh over 500lbs. and live up to 50 years. The voice of an adult male is a throaty bellowing roar with great carrying power. The female grunts like a pig when calling to her young, which she actively protects from predators. Baby alligators make a high keyed umph-umph-umph with mouth closed. Alligators of all sizes hiss.
The American alligator came very close to extinction in the early 1900′s. Banning hunting has saved the alligator from extinction. They have since recovered and are now no longer a threatened species.
Alligators are spectacular to see, they are probably the closest living thing we have to a dinosaur. Gators in the swamp are wild, not pets and should not be teased or harassed. Never feed alligators, and always respect these impressive reptiles even in areas well used by people. Small children and pets warrant extra attention around gators. Swimming is not allowed but a fear of gators should not prevent you from the enjoyment of paddling or motoring the water ways of the swamp. Alligators just want to be able to exist, and not have run-ins with people. Just like any excursion into a wild place, common sense, preparation, and alertness make the experience enjoyable and without problem.
The chances of seeing alligators changes every season, and the temperature, rainfall and certain periodic conditions affect probability of sightings.
Overall, Summer can be a good time to view alligators at The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge