While Georgia’s lively cities beckon travellers with their attractions and experiences, Georgia’s wild side is just as alluring and amazing. The southern state offers rich and unique experiences to nature lovers, adventure enthusiasts and culture buffs. Atlanta’s fascinating aquarium, World of Coca Cola and Martin Luther King Jr. national historic site are the top spots of the capital, while Savannah’s historic district and old world charm is a beautiful journey through time.
The northern Appalachian Mountains string together a world of unforgettable moments in the lap of nature along with the 47 state parks that showcase Georgia’s untamed wilderness and natural beauty. The islands off the Atlantic coast offer a taste of paradise with their golden sand beaches and relaxed vibes. As you wander through Georgia’s trails, waterways and winding roads, you’re sure to spot some furry and feathered friends too along the way that give you a glimpse into Georgia wildlife. So, let’s check out the best of wildlife in Georgia, places to witness it and some not-to-be-missed experiences.
Georgia Wildlife Viewing Guide
With soaring mountains, glittering river & streams as well as estuaries teeming with mangroves, Georgia’s varying habitats offer the chance to witness the entire spectrum of wildlife as you traverse the length and breadth of the state. From black bears to alligators, dolphins and giant salamanders, you can witness many interesting ones in the wildlife reserve areas as well as exotic ones in the zoos and wildlife centres.
Mountain wildlife can be witnesses in the northern reaches of the state in the Appalachian plateau (as well as valley and ridge), Blue Ridge and Piedmont Plateau regions. As you hike along or drive through the mountain trails at dawn or dusk, you can spot a range of animals inhabiting the rugged mountain tops, dense forests and other habitats of this area. Black bears, white-tailed deer and rare goshawks can be spotted in the wild, while the hellbender (largest salamander of North America) can be spotted in the mountain streams. Persistence and a sharp eye can pay huge dividends in these parts for spotting Georgia wildlife animals and reptiles.
Numerous wetlands dot the bountiful Georgian landscape along with the riverine estuaries and swamps along the coast which are excellent breeding grounds for a variety of wildlife in Georgia along with many avian species. The Okefenokee wildlife refuge and Bond Swamp wildlife refuge top the list, teeming with alligators, otters and minks as well as pretty birds like the endangered woodstock and sandhill crane.Hikers can also spot black bears, cottonmouths and myriad other interesting animals in the backwater forests along the Ocmulgee river near Macon. Armed with your hiking boots and a pair of good binoculars, you can easily spot a huge variety of wildlife in these areas.
Since Georgia is blessed with a 100-mile coast line along the Atlantic Ocean with sheltered beaches, estuaries as well as the Barrier Islands, a whole new kind of wildlife can be spotted in this region where freshwater and marine habitats merge. Terns, skimmers and many other sea birds as well as shore birds can be spotted in the Cumberland Island National Seashore while manatees and dolphins can also be spotted by keen wildlife enthusiasts. The seaside woods are home to bobcats and wild turkeys. The Blackbeard Island, Sapelo Island and Catherine’s Island are also good spots for witnessing alligators, armadillos, deer, bald eagles and pods of bottlenose dolphins.
Suggested Read: South Georgia Island: A Beautiful Emerald In The Atlantic Ocean
Top Places To Visit For Witnessing Georgia Wildlife
While there a lot of places to spot the spectacular Georgian wildlife, here a few best ones where you must definitely stop by for treating the adventurer in you. Take a look!
1. Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Established in 1937 as a refuge for wildlife and migratory birds, this beautiful slice of paradise comprises swamps, marsh lands and coastal forests with a rich variety of flora & fauna. The boat tour is an experience you shouldn’t miss as it is the best way to soak in the wilderness and spot the resident species. Knowledgeable and friendly guides make the tour very interesting and informative. Along with the large number of American alligators that can be spotted here, the refuge is also home to black bears, red-cockaded woodpecker, wood stocks and indigo snakes. There are hiking trails, boardwalk and canoe tours that allow you to get up, close and personal with this fascinating ecosystem and its wildlife.
Location: 2700 North Suwannee Canal Rd, Folkston, GA 31537, USA
Timings: Opens half an hour before sunrise every day. Closes at 7:30PM (March-Oct); 5:30PM
Entry fee: $5/adult. Boat tour costs $20/adult.
2. Oatland Island Wildlife Centre
Located just five miles from Savannah’s historic district, this fantastic destination makes for a fulfilling day visit for both kids and adults. Steal away a few hours from the hustle-bustle of city life and spend it amidst nature and Georgia wildlife at the Oatland Island Wildlife Centre. Centred on the principles of conservation, education and discovery, the centre is home to huge range of rescued animals and conducts many interesting programs for children like the Halloween Hike. The well-marked shady trails allow you t explore the wetlands and forests where animals can be spotted in their natural habitat. The exhibits include gray wolves, armadillos, Gopher tortoise, southern flying squirrel, bobcats and many more.
Location: 711 Sandtown Rd, Savannah, GA 31410, USA
Timings: Daily, 10AM-4PM
Entry fee: $5/adult; $3/child
3. Wild Animal Safari
Undeniably amongst the best drive-through animal park in the country, this sprawling 500-acre park is home to more than 550 animals ranging from the indigenous to the exotic. This is one Georgia wildlife experience that no animal lover should miss as it gives you a chance to feed, photograph and observe the amazing line-up of animals from close quarters. You can choose the complimentary guided bus tour led by an animal safari guide or self-drive through the 3.5 miles track saying hello to hundreds of animals. Renting a zebra van is a great experience too, as the giraffes, bison, zebras and watusi tend to come really close to the vehicles for food. Carrying two bags of food per person is a great idea to keep the animals engaged for a longer time!
Location: 300 Oak Grove Rd, Pine Mountain, GA 31822, USA
Timings: Daily, 10AM-5:30PM
Entry fee: $26.95/adult; $23.95/child or senior citizen. Online prices are a little cheaper.
4. Zoo Atlanta
This beautiful, clean and well-maintained zoo with a very friendly staff is one of the best places for enjoying a few hours with Georgia Wildlife as well as lots of exotic animals from across the world. While the Giant Pandas are the star attraction, the tigers, gorillas and lions can be viewed from really close by and are equally popular amongst kids and adults alike. There is a paid option for playing with tortoise and elephants while the free petting area is a fun place too. Lots of great exhibits and opportunities to view wild animals and birds at close quarter make it a great place for animal lovers.
Location: 800 Cherokee Avenue SE, Atlanta, GA 30315, USA
Timings: Daily, 9:30AM-4:30PM
Entry fee: $22.99/adult; $16.99/child (online prices). Gate prices are slightly higher.’
5. Chehaw Wild Animal Park
Part of the 800-acre Chehaw State Park, this Wild Animal Park was conceived and designed by the naturalist Jim Fowler and is an excellent place for spotting and enjoying Georgia wildlife. Along with the black bears and alligators, the park features 238 animals from 12 different species including cheetahs, meerkats, bobcats, ostriches and black rhinoceros. Along with the wildlife exhibits and feeding areas, there are hiking trails, scenic boardwalks and a beautiful cypress swamp. The keeper talks and animal feedings over the weekends can be whole lot of fun for the kids.
Location: 05 Chehaw Park Rd, Albany, GA 31701, USA
Timings: Daily, 8AM-8PM ( the zoo timings are from 9:30AM to 4:30PM)
Entry fee: $8.20/adult; $5.30/child
There is no dearth of Georgia wildlife experiences, and few more worthy additions to this list include the North Georgia Zoo and Petting Farm (Cleveland) , Georgia Sea Turtle Centre (Jekyll Island), Noah’s Ark as well as Georgia Wildlife Sanctuary. While Noah’s Ark is a non-profit sanctuary for exotic as well as farm animals, it also runs a fantastic rescue and rehabilitation program for hundred of animals. The Wildlife Sanctuary on the other hand is Georgia’s largest animal rescue, rehab and release facility for cougars, black bears, panthers, lynx, bobcat and many more. The sanctuary also conducts programs to educate people about the importance of indigenous wildlife conservation.
With the Georgia Wildlife Division working relentlessly towards the maintenance of state parks and conservation of wildlife and their natural habitat, the state continues to be a treasure trove of wild animals, birds, and rich biodiversity. So, make sure you don’t miss out on this experience of your next trip to USA with TravelTriangle. You’d surely be treated and pampered to the core.