Unexpected Treasure: Skidaway Island
I’m going to fess up from the start. I’m a mountain girl. So when I visited Skidaway Island for the first time in November 2011 it was because of a geocaching event, not for the allure of Georgia’s coast. Which brings me to my next confession… I loved it. And I was very excited to return this past November, not only for a repeat of the geocaching event, but for another chance to explore the area.
Skidaway Island State Park is located along Skidaway Narrows on Georgia’s Intracoastal Waterway. Just south of Savannah, this nearly 600 acre park lies in the marshes inland of the Georgia’s beaches and is home to a variety of wildlife including the ever-entertaining fiddler crabs.
Given that it’s a coastal area, the park trails are flat and easy and expose you to the various landscapes of the area. There is such remarkable scenery to be taken in here: the ancient oaks, the spanish moss, the reedy marshes…. A walk to the Observation Tower is a great way to get a birds eye view of the narrows. When out on the trails, especially the Sandpiper Trail, you’ll want to watch your tides. We found ourselves with a decision of wading or coming back later in one quest to solve an Earthcache!
This park has a couple of perks you may find makes your stay all kinds of groovy. For on-the-road bloggers like yours truly, the wifi access at the park office comes in quite handy. To help round out your activities at the park, you also have the option of rental bicycles or striders to explore the trails. And like all of our fabulous Georgia parks, ranger programs are an excellent resource for getting to know the park.
Skidaway’s 87-site campground is also amongst my favorites of the Georgia parks. The sites are generously-sized which gives lots of room for play around camp without having your little ones right under foot or nail-bitingly close to the road while you’re trying to cook dinner. Many of the sites are separated by fabulous coastal pines and palms which adds an element of privacy you don’t find in many other parks.
The spaciousness of the sites did leave me flummoxed on our first visit since my trusty extension cord didn’t reach the tent pad. I was more prepared this past trip with two in hand. So if you require power, say if you’re a blogger who types madly away in the tent at night while the kids are sleeping, be sure to bring enough cord to stretch a good 50 feet to the tent pads… which, by the way, are amongst the largest I’ve seen in my extensive camping experience.
The interpretive center…
Anyone who frequents Georgia state parks knows there are a few “marquis” parks that get a lot of attention for their scenery, amenities, and interpretive centers… Unicoi, Amicalola Falls, etc. In all honesty however, Skidaway’s interpretive center is my favorite. This little unassuming center is packed with groovy things like petrified wood and a giant ground sloth skeleton. It houses archaeological artifacts as well as a bird-viewing window where you can simply sit and enjoy the birds or get more serious by honing your bird ID skills.
Their critter collection has been the most-loved by my crew. It’s very small but very accessible and we’ve found the rangers and volunteers very accommodating in taking the time to talk with us about them even outside of official presentation times.
Not only is the park itself a wonderful place to relax, explore, and learn, there are a great many additional activities nearby. The park is very close to Savannah and Tybee Island so as you plan your time at Skidaway, keep these wonderful places in mind as well…
- UGA Marine Extension Service Aquarium: another unexpected gem, this tiny aquarium was a delight. We were able to get right up to the tanks and because of the lack of crowd, we were able to take as much time as wanted to watch and learn. The nature trails behind the center were surprisingly intriguing with exhibit buildings along the way and geocaches to be found as well.
- Tybee Island Marine Science Center: we payed another visit to this aquarium because our first visit the previous year was so worthwhile. Even the grandparents and older cousins with us on this trip agreed. This is a fantastic little science center is right next to the Tybee Island pier and has a low admission which makes for a convenient and affordable outing. The Spotted Batfish alone is worth the time to take in!
- Fort Pulaski: Another favorite that deserved multiple visits, Fort Pulaski is a Civil War era National Monument rich with history. Be sure to time your visit for one of the cannon firings and don’t forget there are many trails to explore on the monument grounds, including one out to the Cockspur Island lighthouse.
- Wormsloe Plantation: This Georgia Historic Site is just a hop-skip from Skidaway and has a variety of history to take in including tabby ruins and colonial life exhibits. The oak-lined main road to the visitor center adds to the quintessential Georgia charm.
- Fort McAllister: One of Georgia’s combination parks, both historic site as well as state park, this facility combines the history of the civil war with hiking trails, fishing, boating, and camping.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of activities. Keep in mind that there are even more Georgia State Parks and Historic sites in the area so if you’re planning a visit, I highly recommend an annual State Park pass. It will more than pay for itself in one trip to this park-packed area!