The Jekyll Island Causeway is not the yellow brick road, but just like Dorothy in the "Wizard of Oz", you can find your heart's desire at the end of it - Jekyll Island, your island home-away-from-home.
When we go to Jekyll Island, turning off of US 17 onto GA 520, the Downing Musgrove Causeway (otherwise known as the Jekyll Island Causeway) is when the anticipation really kicks into gear. We know that, after a long 7-hour drive from Gainesville, Ga., we're on the home stretch. Jekyll Island lies just 9 miles ahead.
As you turn on to GA 520, you'll pass two small ponds with signs welcoming you to Jekyll Island. A little further, the road runs between two towers before extending like a ribbon before you.
From here, you'll cruise over a roadway slightly elevated above a salt marsh prairie, which spreads into the distance on either side of you.
Keep a sharp eye out for herons and wood storks, who like to use this marsh as a banquet buffet for snarfing down shrimp and other small crustaceans.
At Cedar Creek, you'll cross a low bridge. Continue east on the Jekyll Island Causeway. Keep a weather eye peeled for terrapins, small turtles that cross the road periodically.
Many terrapins are injured by automobiles on the Jekyll Island Causeway, and wind up at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center for rehab. Signs along your route will warn you to watch out for the shelled critters. It's a good precaution to slow down when you see one - a 1 lb. terrapin is no match for a 2000 lb. car.
Stop for Some Southern Hospitality -
As you approach the island, you'll pass the Jekyll Island Welcome Center on your left. It's combined with Georgia State Patrol Post 35. Since Jekyll Island is a state park, the Georgia State Patrol is tasked with the island's law enforcement.
Stop at the Welcome Center for maps and gifts, and a quick update on what's happening on Jekyll Island during the time you'll be there. The Welcome Center staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and you'll learn a lot.
Take the time to climb the observation tower in back of the Center, where you can get a great view of the marsh. You might even spot an animal or two. The tower is perfect for bird watching, so bring your binoculars.
Just past the Welcome Center you'll spot the entrance kiosk, where you'll need to pay
your island entrance fee (called a parking fee by the Jekyll Island
Authority). As of this writing, the fee is $8.00. for a single vehicle.
road splits into several lanes just before the kiosk, and you have a
choice of pay stations. If you're visiting,
you'll need a pay lane. You can pay with cash, or a credit card. If you
anticipate heading off-island to explore the surrounding area, consider purchasing a weekly pass.
Once past the entrance kiosk, you'll cross the M.E. Thompson bridge spanning the Jekyll River. From the apex of the bridge you'll get your first glimpse of Jekyll Island.
GA 520 ends just over the river, where it turns into the Ben Fortson Jr. Parkway.
What's that strange feeling settling over you? It's called relaxation. You're easing into island time, and your Jekyll Island Family Adventures await!
Need an inexpensive place to stay? Drop in at Quality Inn & Suites.
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