I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Audobon Swamp Gardens at Magnolia Plantation. The Audobon Swamp Garden is located northwest of Charleston, South Carolina, off of the beautiful Ashely River. This is a review of the Audbon Swamp Garden’s at Magnolia Plantation. While spending last weekend visiting friends in Beaufort, South Carolina, they suggested we drive about an hour north to the Audobon Swamp Garden’s at Magnolia Plantation. My friend had been there twice before and knowing I loved the outdoors, she suggested I go.
The drive there was wonderful. You enter the plantation and drive to the gardens. Once you enter the gardens, there is a small museum exhibit with information about plants and animals that live in the swamp. This should be your starting point on your trip. Be sure and get a mpa of the gardens, both a driving and walking map. In addtion, there is a small gift shop and snack bar on the premises. Two other added features of the plantation, that you can take part of without paying for the plantation tour, is the nature boat and the nature train. These cost extra, but tickets are sold at the Audobon Swamp and Gardens Gift shop and at the gate to the gardens. However, the boat and train both leave from outside the gardens, but both take you on a tour of the swamp and gardens. We decided to take the boat ride, as we felt this was the best way to see the swamp.
Don’t be alarmed, but gators abound once you leave the docking station. The boat tour takes you through the swamps, through part of the Ashely River, and through what is left of the old rice fields.The guide said we would often see other wildlife, however the only other wildlife I saw were birds and of course countless alligators. We did see a heron nesting along a branch of the river. It is difficult to see into the water to look for fish and gators, as the water is a unique blackwater found mostly in swamps. It was a bit scary to want to see beneath but to have the water so dark, you aren’t suyre what you are seeing or looking for. it felt as if something would jump out at you at any second.
The gardens are 60 acres of swamps, indigenious trees such as cypress and tupelo gum trees, and all can be reached by driving through the swamp or stopping and adventuring through the two mile boardwalk and dikes that you can hike. The boardwalks are the best place to visit the Audobon Swamp Gardens. You can spend all day exploring the swamp, but it takes about two hours for a quick trip. On our walking tour, we saw several varieties of birds, lizards, of course alligators, and turtles. We heard strange noises that we could not identify, so some sort of other creature was lurking nearby. One noise we heard was hissing, and a park ranger later told us we had probably come upon a mommy gator and her babies! We were told that we should have visited in the afternoon or early evening, as this is when most of the wildlife can be seen. Our trip was at noon, so most creatures were probably hiding. I would also recomeend visiting in the spring or summer, as the wonderful dogwoods, azelas and magnolias were of course not blooming. There were pictures in the gift shop of spring, and it is so beautiful.
While the swamps do sit on the Magnolia Plantation, you can visit the Audobon Swamp Garden’s independently of the plantation. The park is open all year long from 8:30 to 5 p.m. from November to February and from 8:00 to 5:30 p.m. from March to October. The admission fee is free for children under 5, $8 for children under 12, and $12 for anyone over 13. It may seem a bit steep for a two hour trip, but take it from me, it is money well spent. In addtion, think about the education that your children get firsthand by visiting the Audobon Swamp Garden’s at Magnolia Plantation.