Everglades Vs Okefenokee: Great Swamp Debate Part II

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I love swamps, I don’t think that’s a secret, and today I’m going to share some love for both Okefenokee Swamp and Everglades National Park in The Great Swamp Debate, Part II: Everglades Vs Okefenokee.

Usually when I do these comparison posts I have an idea of which one I want to win, or would pick as the winner if someone just asked but I’m not sure on this one!

(As I wrote this I kept finding myself hoping for Okefenokee to win).

These are some of my favorite posts to write and this one is no different. They’re a fun way to get to know two places while deciding where to go.

Okefenokee isn’t a national park, it’s just the Okefenokee Swamp but it’s also protected by the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and Okefenokee Wilderness, so it seems close enough.

And one last thing, which one you choose could also have a lotto do with what other areas you’re visiting. Like, if you’re flying in and out of Miami and sticking south of Orlando, I wouldn’t pick Okfenokee.

But if you’re visiting north Florida, then I would pick Okefenokee. If you were doing like, full east coast of Florida, you could do both if you have time!

Travel Services I Recommend:
AllTrails – This is my favorite hike tracking app.
America the Beautiful – The national park pass is essential.
Booking.com – This is great for finding and booking hotels.
Get Your Guide – I recommend Get Your Guide for booking tours.
National Park Obsessed – This is the best national park planner.
Skyscanner – Skyscanner is great for finding and booking flights.
Enterprise – This is my rental car recommendation.
See all my resources here.

National Park Goodies

Where are Okefenokee Swamp and Everglades National Park?

Okefenokee Swamp is in southern Georgia, right in the Florida border. It has three different areas you can visit. This part is always very confusing to me because of the names but I finally got it.

  • Stephen C. Foster State Park – I went to this part the first time I visited
  • Folkston, GA – Okefenokee Adventures – This is where I went the second time with my parents
  • Waycross, GA – Okefenokee Swamp Park – I haven’t been to this part yet

Everglades National Park is at the other end of Florida, covering a large part of the south part of the state. It also has three areas to visit but it’s easier to understand.

  • Homestead, FL – Flamingo area – I think we went here in 2019?
  • Shark Valley – We biked this in January of 2021 and I loved it
  • Gulf Visitor Center – We went here in 2019, maybe? But we didn’t do anything here, technically
two alligators at Shark Valley everglades national park florida
Shark Valley in Everglades

Is Everglades or Okefenokee bigger?

Both Everglades and Okefenokee are pretty big. Everglades clocks in at 1,508,976 acres and Okefenokee is just 1/3ish the size at 438,000 acres.

That’s still pretty big but Everglades clearly wins this round. I do love that both have three different areas to visit though which gives you more opportunities to see different areas of pretty hard to access parks.

boardwalk everglades national park

Is Okefenokee or Everglades better for hiking?

This is an easy one. Neither is really great for hiking, both Everglades and Okefenokee are best seen by watercraft of some sort.

That said, Everglades wins this one. Okefenokee only has five or six trails (there are five on AllTrails but I know of one on an island you can boat to).

They’re all 1.6 miles or less. But of the three that I did there, they were all nice and I enjoyed them!

Everglades wins this round, too. They don’t really have tons of long trails either, but they do have a lot of short interpretive trails. I won’t list them all because it’s a lot but you can find them here.

Okefenokee swamp georgia

Is Everglades or Okefenokee busier?

In 2021 Everglades National Park had 1,155,193 visitors. Okefenokee doesn’t really have an exact number but from what I can find, it’s somewhere between 400,000 and 600,000 per year.

So, since the Everglades is busier, Okefenokee finally wins a round! It’s so easy to feel like you’re alone in Okefenokee. Even on a boat tour you probably won’t see many other people out there.

And while Everglades gets a lot of visitors, if you do some paddling or biking, it’s pretty easy to get away from the crowds. Even some of the short hikes can accomplish this.

Everglades National Park

Is Okefenokee or Everglades better for paddling?

Okefenokee has seven paddling trails of varying distances while Everglades has ten. This means we’ve got another win for Everglades.

Kayaks can be rented at both parks (all three parts of Okefenokee and Flamingo/Gulf Coast at Everglades) if you are interested in paddling and aren’t bringing your own.

You can also rent small boats at Okefenokee but can only join boat tours at Everglades. Okefenokee has tours, too.

anhinga trail everglades national park

Is Okefenokee or Everglades better for tours?

I think it depends on what kind of tour you want. The only tour options at Okefenokee are group boat tours. They have up to 20ish people on them.

At Everglades (and around it) you can do airboat tours, guided paddling tours, and boat tours out on the ocean, through the bays and 10,000 islands.

I haven’t done any tours at Everglades National Park but I did do one at Okefenokee. It was good but it’s better by boat on your own there.

I’m giving this round the Everglades again simply because of the variety of tours available.

Is Everglades or Okefenokee better to see wildlife?

Man, I really want Okefenokee to win here but I have to give this round to the Everglades, too. We saw tons of gators at Okefenokee, lots of turtles, some birds, and even an owl, but I’ve seen a lot more at Everglades.

The six pictures above are all at Everglades. We saw a lot of wildlife (birds and multiple alligators) on the Anhinga Trail, the when we biked Shark Valley we saw SO much!

We saw tons of alligators, even tiny baby ones, turtles, birds, snakes, and even a bird eating a snake! I think what makes it better at Everglades is how much closer it feels.

But it’s close at Okefenokee, too. I’m not sure why it feels so different at the Everglades though. I think Shark Valley solidified this one for me.

alligator on log in Okefenokee swamp georgia

Is Okefenokee or Everglades better for one day?

Both parks are good for just one day but I think I actually want to give this round to Okefenokee! For the average visitor, one day is good to see the swamp whether it’s on a tour, kayaking, or on a boat yourself.

I would either rent a boat or kayak if you’re comfortable with either of those so you can really take advantage of the full day there. But the boat tour is good if you just have like, half a day.

Everglades is just so big it’s hard to only have one day there. Shark Valley can take a full day and there’s a ton of stuff to do in the Flamingo area.

Check out this two-day Everglades itinerary!

Shark Valley observation tower everglades national park florida

Is Everglades or Okefenokee easier to get to?

This is an easy one. Both are easy to get to but thanks to it’s proximity to Miami, Everglades wins again. If you want to visit a national park close to a city, but not in the city, it’s perfect.

Okefenokee is just in a weird spot, kind of the middle of nowhere, but if you’re flying in and out of Jacksonville, it would be pretty easy to get to.

everglades national park

Is Okefenokee or Everglades better for camping?

If you want rugged backcountry camping, Okefenokee. If you want regular camping in a campground with facilities, then Everglades.

And since I have to pick one, I’m going with Everglades again on this one since I, and I assume most of you, are more interested in regular camping that backcountry swamp camping.

everglades national park

Is Okefenokee or Everglades better for more than one day?

I kind of answered this one above but Everglades wins this round, too. Yes, you can spend more than one day in Okefenokee and plenty of people do, but I’d still go with Everglades.

I would spend 2-3 days in Everglades and I would spend them like this: one day biking Shark Valley, one day kayaking in Flamingo and doing a boat tour, and one doing the hiking.

So, which is better, Okefenokee or Everglades?

I normally have to do a tally at the end and thought I would here, too but the winner is definitely Everglades National Park!

If you want a more rugged, wild swamp experience where you take a boat out yourself or kayak and/or backcountry camp, then I would go with Okefenokee.

But, for the casual park visitor, Everglades comes out on top unless you’re already in north Florida or the surrounding Okefenokee area.

Have you been to Okefenokee or Everglades? Which one? What did you think of it? If you’ve been to both, which would you pick as the winner?

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