When people get away for a vacation they want to see something different from the city streets they travel every day to work. The scenery around them has palled and wide-eyed tourists to their home no longer faze them. A hunger is born inside them for quiet, lovely vistas of purple mountains against the backdrop of a blazing orange sunset. They want to walk the byways of the past and imagine themselves in a hoop skirt on the porch at Tara. They want to hear the guns thundering in some long past battle of the Civil War. When people get away for a vacation they want to imagine themselves Tom Sawyer on the green rivers surveying the surrounding islands for whatever mischief they can get into. They want to bike along paths green with pine needles and sheltered by towering oak and magnolia trees. Welcome to Crooked River State Park at 6222 Charlie Smith Sr Highway in St. Mary’s, Georgia!
The most memorable vacations are the ones spent amid wildlife not common to the visitor’s home. Have they ever seen an egret or a stork? Bird watching is a quiet endeavor and endlessly fascinating. Birds are a lot like people in their social gatherings and in they eat all day, chatter all day (on telephone wires, no less) and get around in groups. Crooked River State Park offers some bird life seen nowhere else. Watching a bird fish for its dinner is beyond words. The incredible skills the birds have in seeing their prey and nabbing it with speed unmatched by anything else has to be seen to be believed. Hearing birds twitter is so peaceful and the music they make is soothing to the soul.
How many people get to see a real alligator? Is their part of the country rife with armadillos? Not many cities have deer wandering about, nor do people get to see many blue heron, a native bird. Walk along nature trails winding through the park and see a marsh and its inhabitants, something not common to inland areas. The reeds waving in the water is beautiful to see and watching marsh creatures is an education in itself. At low tide, you will see crabs and gopher tortoises. Not many people get to see a bobcat or foxes either, but you’ll see them here in their native habitat.
That covers some of what visitors will see but how will they see it? There are miles of trails through the park and marsh which can be viewed from the feet on a hike or on a bicycle. Trails have been widened and made amenable to the handicapped or those in a wheelchair and for families with children. You can see it from a kayak or a fishing boat. Fishing is allowed but for visitors over sixteen a license is required. There’s nothing like looking back at what you just hiked from a boat out in the river. You will see a wide shot, to use film terminology, and see as a whole what you saw individually on the trail.
Campers will get to experience nature that those staying in the guest cabins near the river won’t get. Campers can sleep under the stars and hear the rustle of the grasses as animals and birds pass through them. They won’t get much sleep because they’ll be peeking out the tent flaps to see what’s making the padding noises across the campground. The morning sun will wake them to the twittering of the birds and the splashes of the fish, turtles and other marine life in the water. They will pass their days beneath the canopy of Spanish moss dripping from the trees and walking on fragrant pine needles. They will see what a real magnolia looks like and see if it matches what they’ve heard about magnolias. Those in the cabins will wake to the same vistas and enjoy the same walks and scents and sounds but being closer to the water they will hear a music unknown in cities: the music of the water lapping the shore and singing in tides washing in and receding. Welcome to Crooked River State Park! For reservations please call 912.992.5256.