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Okefenokee reopens observation tower
renovated boardwalk
A renovated board walk between Mirror and Skull lakes leads to the tower. - photo by Photo provided.
Okefenokee Swamp Park has completed renovation of its observation tower.
It is once again open to the public. The tower stands 90 feet, the tallest viewing point over "The Land of the Trembling Earth."
The tower has a long history for the park. It is the park's fourth tower. The first three were wooden and successively taller. Built in the current location, the park's third tower was 60 feet in height. In 1964, that wooden structure was replaced with a taller tower made of steel. By the 1990's the tannic acid in the swamp corroded the exposed steel, resulting in frequent maintenance to the structure. And in 1999, the tower was closed.
During the solar eclipse on March 7, 1970, a number of scientists and astronomers from all the country came to Waycross specifically to view the eclipse from the Okefenokee Swamp tower. There they had total serenity of the swamp to study the eclipse.
Back in 2007, when Waycross suffered from what has been named "The Monster Fire," the tower was used by local and state firefighters to evaluate and develop a plan to steer the fire around the park.
In 2009, the park board contracted Structural Contractors Inc. to evaluate the tower for possible renovation. It was found to be structurally sound and the extensive restoration began.

Can you survive the climb?

With 102 steps to the top, the trek is not for everyone. However, the views make it worth the try. There are benches at the base and midway point. Ample time is allowed for each person to climb on their own, at their own risk, and at their own pace to the top. Once you are triumphantly at the top and have caught your breath, the park invites you to make a wish and toll the Okefenokee Tower Bell to symbolize that you have made the climb! Binoculars are available for use during the climb.
Now, a limited number of guests, with advance reservations can board a boat tour for an adventure of a lifetime. The round trip takes two hours and will include an exit from the boat onto 600 feet of newly constructed boardwalk that joins Mirror Lake to Skull Lake with a connection to the tower. This is the only way to access the tower, making this two-hour tour a unique experience. This tour costs $30 per person and reservations are required. On weekends in April, there will be sunset tours into the swamp that conclude at the tower to allow for a stunning sunset view over the cypress canopy.
For more information, call (912) 283-0583 or check out their Web site at:

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