Congaree National Park
Guide

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Introduction

Well-known for its astonishing biodiversity and old-growth bottomland hardwood forest, Congaree National Park is a popular destination for nature lovers. The ecosystem in the park is sustained by the Congaree and Wateree Rivers that carry nutrients and sediments that support the trees and forest vegetation. This park, located in Hopkins, South Carolina, is a great place to relax, refresh, and enjoy quiet camping experiences.

Recreational opportunities are abundant in Congaree National Park for visitors and campers. From hiking on short and easy trails to long and strenuous ones, to nature, flora and fauna observation, you will have your hands full at the park. Canoeing and kayaking experiences on the park’s waters are always memorable too. Besides, you can fish in the park if you have a valid South Carolina fishing license, not to mention the educative and fun park’s ranger programs that are open to all.

Congaree National Park does not have RV/trailer sites, and supports only tent and hammock camping in its two campgrounds - Longleaf Campground and Bluff Campground. However, RV campgrounds are located in the nearby Ladson, Summerton, and Mt. Pleasant.

Congaree National Park was established in 2003.

Park Alerts (4)

[Caution] Hunting Season Information

Although hunting is not allowed in Congaree National Park, hunting activities occur on adjacent lands. Visitors should not cross out of the park on to private lands. Doing so could put you at risk and you may be subject to citation for trespassing.

[Information] Boardwalk Construction Information (Bluff Trail Access)

Starting Dec. 2, 2019, the section of Bluff Trail between the Boardwalk & the junction with Longleaf Trail will be closed. Visitors will still be able to hike to/from the Visitor Center, Longleaf Campground & Bluff Campground via the open sections.

[Information] Boardwalk Construction Information (Boardwalk Access)

Starting on Dec. 2, 2019, the section of the Boardwalk between the Visitor Center & the first junction will be closed. Visitors will still have access to the entire Boardwalk loop via a short section of Bluff Trail (#1) located behind the Visitor Center.

[Caution] Bridge J on Kingsnake Trail Closed

Bridge J on the Kingsnake Trail is damaged & is unsafe to cross. Please do not attempt to cross this bridge. Hikers may be able to pass around the bridge during dry conditions.

RV Rentals in Congaree National Park

Transportation in Congaree National Park

Driving

Sited on National Park Road, Hopkins, South Carolina, Congaree National Park is accessible via South Carolina 48 (also known as Bluff Road) from either Interstate 47 or US Highway 601. Local roads are available in the park for campers to drive around in their vehicles.

Parking

Parking spaces are available at Congaree National Park for vehicles.

Public Transport

There are no direct public transportation services to Congaree National Park.

Campgrounds and parking in Congaree National Park

Campsites in Congaree National Park

Reservations camping

Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA

Located in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA offers RV and tent camping options in 132 pet-friendly sites. Equipped with full hookups (electric, water, and sewer hookups) for RVs, the campground can accommodate RVs/trailers up to 80 feet in length.

Camping amenities and facilities are on hand in the campground, including showers, restrooms, laundry facilities, Wi-Fi, and firewood. A fishing lake, nature trail, and Oakland plantation are also available near the campground.

Campsite reservations are available.

Santee/Santee Lakes KOA

Located in Summerton, South Carolina, Santee/Santee Lakes KOA offers 200 pet-friendly campsites for tents and RVs. Equipped with full hookup options (electric, water, and sewer hookups), the campground can accommodate RVs/trailers up to 85 feet long.

Restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, and firewood are available in the campground. Campers can also enjoy Wi-Fi access in the campground. Opportunities to engage in fishing and mini-golf are open to all such enthusiasts.

Campsites in the campground are reservable.

Charleston KOA

Located in Ladson, South Carolina, Charleston KOA offers nice camping options in 130 pet-friendly sites available for RVs and tents. The campground is equipped with full hookup options (electric, water, and sewer hookups) for RVs, and can accommodate RVs/trailers up to 70 feet.

There are lots of camping amenities and facilities at Charleston KOA, including restrooms and showers, laundry facilities, public phone and Wi-Fi. Firewood is also available.

All the campsites are available by reservation.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Congaree National Park

Spring

Hiking

There are many hiking trails in Congaree National Park that range from short hikes to longer treks into the backcountry areas, thereby offering campers and visitors a variety of options that suit their hiking skills and abilities.
Your choice of what you want to see will inform where you want to hike to and which trail to set out on. Some of the trails in the park lead to oxbow lakes, while others lead to Congaree River. You could also hike the trails where you will see stands of spectacular old-growth trees that make up the tallest deciduous forest in the US. You can rest assured that you’ll have a wonderful hiking experience at Congaree National Park.

Flora

Congaree National Park is well known for its flora diversity and uniqueness. The park is primarily significant thanks to its unique bottomland hardwood forest communities, forest canopy and champion trees height, and its diverse ecosystem. As you visit and spend time at Congaree National Park, you will see the various forest communities that are represented across the park’s landscape, featuring upland pines, bald cypress, and water tupelo. These trees occur from the elevated bluffs in the park to the floodplain areas. Consequently, everywhere you go, these resplendent florae will greet you.

Summer

Ranger Programs

Congaree National Park offers a variety of ranger-led programs that educate visitors and campers about the park’s history, features, wildlife and vegetation. These range from guided tours on the park’s waters to hikes along the park’s trails. The Nature Discovery Walk, for instance, takes visitors and campers along the Boardwalk in the park, led by a knowledgeable volunteer naturalist. The walk covers a round-trip distance of 2.4 miles and usually takes two hours to complete.

Fall

Fauna

Wildlife species, birds, reptiles, insects and many other faunae call Congaree National Park their home because the park features habitats that support them. From slow moving creeks to oxbow lakes, sloughs and forested areas, these animals thrive and occur in abundance and offer visitors and campers beautiful sights. For instance, 178 bird species have been recorded in the park, including pelicans, herons, egrets, and vireos. In addition, bats, coyotes, gray fox, turtles, and various snake species are present in the park.

Canoeing and Kayaking

Canoeing and kayaking on Cedar Creek is an absolutely exciting way to experience Congaree National Park. Visitors and campers alike do not miss out on the opportunity to paddle across this waterway that passes through a primeval old-growth forest containing some of the tallest trees in the entire eastern North America. Moreover, there are opportunities to view various wildlife in the park along the creek. Novice and expert paddlers have enjoyable trips on the marked Cedar Creek Trail that is approximately 15 miles in length. You are required to bring your own vessels unless you want to participate in a guided tour.

Winter

Fishing

Wonderful recreational fishing opportunities are available in Congaree River, Cedar Creek and the oxbow lakes at Congaree National Park. River striped bass is the most abundant fish species in Congaree river, while anglers get to catch catfish, bass, crappie and many fishes in the creek and oxbow lake.

A valid South Carolina fishing license is required before fishing in the park, and only the Weston Lake overlook and the surrounding area is closed to fishing. The allowed fishing method in the park is with closely attended hook and line, fly rod, casting rod, pole and line or hand line. The use of inboard and outboard motorboats is prohibited.

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