Located deep within the legendary Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Stephen C. Foster State Park serves as a primary entrance to this 402,000 acre refuge, which stands as the largest blackwater swamp in North America and one of Georgia’s seven natural wonders. In addition, the park also offers great opportunities for stargazing, paddling, fishing, wildlife viewing, and more—making it an obvious addition to your RV adventure bucket list.
Visitors to Stephen C. Foster State Park can explore its main attraction—the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge—either by walking along the park’s 2,100-foot boardwalk, hopping on a guided pontoon boat tour, or paddling out into the swamp. While exploring the park and surrounding refuge, visitors will likely spot the swamp’s signature inhabitant, the American Alligator, as officials estimate 12,000 of this reptile live within the refuge. Visitors can also enjoy hiking along the park’s nearly two miles of hiking trails, and fishing for bluegill, catfish, and bowfin in the lake. No matter how you choose to spend your days, make sure to look up at night: Stephen C. Foster State Park is a certified dark sky park by the International Dark Sky Association, so the park offers some of the darkest skies in the southeast.
Stephen C. Foster State Park offers 66 RV sites featuring water and electric hookups, and easy access to restrooms and a dump station. The park can be enjoyed any time of year, but visitors hoping to catch a view of a particular object in the night sky should note that seasons and environmental factors affect what can be seen in the sky, so visitors should determine their ideal time to visit and then reserve a site accordingly.
Located in southeastern Georgia, Stephen C. Foster State Park sits about 90 miles northwest from Jacksonville, Florida, and 200 miles southwest of Savannah. This Georgia state park is fairly remote, and visitors will need to be prepared to drive 18 miles northeast from the town of Fargo in order to reach it. The park warns that GPS directions in the area are often not accurate, so visitors should consult a highway map when finding their route.
Once inside the park, visitors should be prepared for paved interior roads with tight turns and possible scraping branches. The campground loop is curvy and tight in certain areas, and while it is navigable in a big rig, guests with larger rigs should consider trying to secure one of the pull-through sites located near the campground entrance in order to avoid the campground loop. The campground can accommodate rigs of up to 50 feet in length. Guests can plan to park their rig either at their campsite or in the parking area near the boat dock and canal.
Stephen C. Foster State Park offers boat and bike rentals on-site, but for more extensive supply needs, visitors will need to venture outside the park to the town of Fargo 18 miles southwest. In Fargo, visitors can find small shops, convenience stores, gas stations, and a restaurant.
Stephen C. Foster State Park Campground has 66 RV sites located in the southeastern area of the park, just after the park entrance. These 66 RV sites all offer electric hookups, water hookups, a fire ring, and convenient access to restrooms. The sites do not offer sewer hookups, but guests can make use of the dump station centrally located within the campground. The campground is able to accommodate rigs of up to 50 feet long, and while most of the sites are back-in, a few sites closest to the campground entrance are pull-through, so guests with larger rigs should aim to secure one of these sites if possible. Guests staying in the Stephen C. Foster State Park Campground can also enjoy easy access to the nearby hiking trail, called Fitness Trail. Some of these sites are open year-round, while others are available seasonally. These sites can be reserved online, so visitors eager to secure a specific spot before their visit should make sure to book a site ahead of time.
The major attraction at Stephen C. Foster State Park is, of course, the legendary Okefenokee Swamp, and one of the most adventurous ways to explore it is by paddling through it. Paddlers can take advantage of 15 miles of waterways from the park, by launching from the boat ramp in the northern area of the park, which puts paddlers right onto the canal. One of the best ways to explore the swamp and its surrounding area is to paddle out to Billy’s Island, where visitors can still see the Lee family cemetery, remnants of the logging camp, and more. Paddlers can bring their own boats, or rent kayaks and canoes from the park.
Anglers will also have plenty to explore at Stephen C. Foster State Park, as the fishing in Billy’s Lake is excellent. Inside the park, anglers can take advantage of the boat ramp, boat dock, boardwalk, and fish cleaning station all located on the northern end of the park. Anglers looking to rent a boat to take out onto the lake can rent a kayak, canoe, or jon boat from the park and explore from there. In Billy’s Lake, anglers can try their luck at catching warmouth, bluegill, catfish, chain pickerel, and bowfin.
Visitors eager to fully experience the wonder of North America’s largest blackwater swamp, who would prefer not to paddle alone through the alligator-heavy waters, can instead join one of the programs and private tours offered through the park. Visitors can enjoy a guided pontoon boat tour of the swamp, or arrange for a private tour by motor boat, canoe, or kayak. The tours available include visits to Minnie’s Run, Minnie’s Lake, Billy’s Island, Big Water, and even sunset tours of the swamp.
In addition to being an entry point into one of Georgia’s seven natural wonders, Stephen C. Foster State Park is also home to some of the darkest skies in the southeast, as a certified dark sky park by the International Dark Sky Association. Sitting in the middle of the Okefenokee Swamp with minimal light pollution, this Georgia state park offers stellar views of the night sky year-round, but visitors should note that environmental factors and seasons can affect what you see and how well you see it: the summer night sky and winter night sky are quite different, so those with particular object preferences should plan accordingly.
Wildlife enthusiasts will have plenty to keep them busy at Stephen C. Foster State Park, as the park and surrounding swamp are home to a wide range of plants and animals. The most famous dweller of the Okefenokee Swamp is the American Alligator, which visitors can spot safely from a boat or even from the boardwalk during their visit. The swamp is estimated to be home to about 12,000 total alligators. In addition to the thousands of alligators, this Georgia park and surrounding refuge are also home to turtles, deer, raccoons, black bears, wood storks, red-cockaded woodpeckers, herons, and many more.
Visitors who would prefer to pull on their hiking boots, stretch their legs, and explore this park by foot will be happy to hear that the park has nearly two miles of hiking trails for visitors to stroll through. On the eastern side of the park, hikers can hop on the Fitness Trail, which begins near the park entrance and winds along the swamp up to the boat ramp and fish cleaning station. On the western side of the park, hikers can instead hop on the Upland Trail, which begins near the park entrance and winds up along the swamp to the cottages. Visitors can also enjoy a nearly one mile walk along the nature trail and boardwalk in the northern area of the park.