Banks Lake, Lanier County


Banks Lake is a natural blackwater lake characterized by shallow water and cypress trees. Located just east of Lakeland, it was owned for much of the 2oth century by the family of Governor Ed Rivers.


Joshua Lee operated a grist mill here in the mid-1800s. When he dammed the Carolina bay  on his property, the lake was created.


Unsubstantiated sources suggest that Governor Ed Rivers’ family attempted to develop the area in the 1920s and that his estate threatened to drain and log the lake in the 1970s, but regardless, the property was purchased by the Nature Conservancy in 1980, assuring its preservation. In 1985, the Conservancy sold the lake to the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service, who redesignated it Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge.


With around 20,000 visitors per year, Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge is one of the least crowded parks in the system. It almost feels like a roadside park because, effectively, it is. There are docks and a short boardwalk and an outfitter on site. A gentleman I met on the dock told me that fishermen tie strips of cloth to trees to find their way around. It’s apparently quite thick with cypress.


Banks Lake is part of the Grand Bay-Banks Lake ecosystem, the second largest freshwater wetland in Georgia, after the Okefenokee Swamp.


The refuge, managed by the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, does not have on-site staff. Fishing is allowed, for those with valid licenses.

Lanier County Ga Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2016

For information on this natural wonder of Georgia, please visit the refuge website.



Filed under --LANIER COUNTY GA--, Lakeland GA

6 responses to “Banks Lake, Lanier County

  1. Many memories have been made here, fishing with my Daddy as a young girl. Now I love to photograph it on lazy afternoons. It’s a beautiful place that native Lanier Countians like myself are very proud of!
    Debbie Mosier

  2. Beautiful lake in our neck oh the woods …great pictures

  3. janet morrow

    gosh this site makes me homesick. I have been gone for 36 years from home. Love these pictures.

  4. Wendell Theus

    Hi Brian, great photos.When I first saw this lake, I thought it the most beautiful lake I had ever seen. all the lovely cypress & all that black water. I knew I had to go fishing there. can you believe 2 of us fished for over 6 hrs. & never had a bite!! Maybe it was just us or wrong moon phase- who knows. Though I have been by several times, I have not fished again. Still enjoy seeing though. Keep up the great work. thanks———

  5. vanne hanisch-godoy

    All of these photos are absolutely beautiful!!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.