Resting along the Lynches River in Bishopville, South Carolina, the lovely wooded 2,839-acre Lee State Park dates back to 1935. This park was one of several parks built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the Great Depression. Adorned with mature hardwood forests and the rugged beauty of the floodplains, the park offers a plethora of recreational opportunities. Boating and fishing in the Lynches River and swimming in the artesian lake are some of the most popular activities at Lee State Park.
Many believe that Native Americans inhabited the area from 6,000 B.C. to 1,000 A.D. The springs that are the basis of the artesian lake have been in the vicinity at least that long. Horse owners are in love with the park as well. Equestrian facilities in the park include a show ring, horse stalls, corrals, and a 10-stall barn. With 12 miles of equestrian trails, riders can enjoy riding along the river and into the lush forests of South Carolina before heading back to camp for the night.
Wildlife abounds in the park day and night, so keep an eye out, and you may spot some raccoons and deer foraging in the grassy areas and foxes running around in the woods. If you want to stay the night, make sure you reserve your spot early because there are only 25 campsites here, and it is a popular park. There are also 23 equestrian campsites available. All sites have 20/30/50-amp electric and water hookups, and some sites offer campers full hookups.
Lee State Park is easy to find on SC-22 just off of I-20, which you can reach from US-15, SC-403, or US-401. The park is only 55 miles from Columbia, where you’ll find a zoo, several museums, and historic sites. You are also only 80 miles from Charlotte, North Carolina, where you can see the world’s fastest and tallest giga coaster, the biggest humanmade whitewater river, and attend some racecar-centered events.
The roads leading you to the park are paved and well-cared for, so you should have no trouble getting to your destination; however, you should always take your time to enjoy the view and watch out for any wildlife that may wander across the road. The park itself is set up for trailers and RVs, so you will be fine driving around no matter what you are in. Most campers park their rig at camp and use another mode of transportation, such as walking or horseback riding, once they set up their RV camp.
If you enjoy visiting other state parks, you’ll be within 30 miles of two of them here. Goodale State Park is just about 25 miles to the northwest, which has 763 acres with a 140-acre lake and a three-mile canoe trail. And 27 miles in the opposite direction you’ll find Woods Bay State Park. This lush 1,590-acre park has a 1,150-foot boardwalk that takes you through a cypress-tupelo swamp. There is also a kayak trail and a one-mile nature trail.
Lee State Park is open all year long and has 25 traditional campsites with RV length limits between 26 to 57 feet. You will have your choice of cooking indoors or out with electric and water utilities available as well as a campfire ring with a grill to cook on, and a picnic area at each site large enough for a big family. Sites 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, and 25 have sewer hookups as well. The park also has shower houses and modern restrooms in the middle of the campground for your convenience. There’s also an RV sanitation dump site along Loop Road by the recycling bins. You’ll be within walking distance of the lake as well as the river, so you can enjoy whatever water activities you like without having to drive. Grab your fishing gear and let the kids try their luck at catching some of the catfish stocked in the lake. Reservations should be made in advance with such a limited number of sites to choose from. Your furbabies are welcome as long as you supervise them and keep them restrained while you are here.
The equestrian camp has 23 campsites that can accommodate rigs and trailers from 23 to 59 feet in length. Every site has 20/30/50-amp electric and water hookups, and sites 44 – 48 have sewer hookups as well. A picnic table that seats eight is also available at each campsite. You can cookout on the campfire grill if you don’t want to be stuck inside cooking. After all, you came to enjoy the outdoors, not cook in the RV. Hot showers are available in the center of the campground, where you can also find restrooms with running water.
The park offers corrals for rent that you can reserve on the website when you reserve your campsite. The horse show ring and 10-stall barn are also available to rent, but it is on a first-come, first-served basis. The campground is open year-round, but you should make your reservations early because, with only 23 sites, it fills up fast, especially on weekends and holidays. You can bring your pooch, but make sure it is supervised and restrained during your stay.
If you have a large family or group, Lee State Park offers three group campsites that can accommodate up to 25 guests per site. Although the campsites do not have utilities, there is a central water site and restrooms for use. The group area is also good for organized groups such as scouts or others who have meetings and lead officers. Reservations can be made by phone and should be done as far in advance as possible. Pets are allowed but must be restrained at all times.
Pack your hiking shoes in the rig because the park invites hikers to meander through the mature hardwood forest and engage with nature. The park maintains two easy trails. The Floodplain Trail is an easy one-mile loop. You can find the trailhead near the park office, and as you traverse the wooded area and enter the tall grass, be sure to watch for any native wildlife like squirrels and deer. The half-mile Sandhills Trail is another easy walk, which can be found near the family camping area. This short and pleasant walk meanders along a dirt road, and you can either use the road or retrace your steps along the trail to return to your starting point.
Go ahead and grab your pole and fishing gear, so you can toss a line in the water for a chance to catch some fish. You can try your luck at catching catfish, bass, sunfish, and crappie from the banks of the Lynches River. You may also wish to try fishing at the artesian lake, which has been stocked with catfish. However, be mindful that there is no fishing permitted in the swimming area, and make sure you have a valid fishing license from South Carolina. If you don’t have your own gear, you can borrow a rod from the park staff as Lee State Park participates in the Department of Natural Resources Fishing Tackle Loaner Program.
Be sure to pack your bathing suit and sunscreen in the RV before heading out to Lee State Park as the park maintains a unique swimming beach. The beach is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend; this is a unique swimming area. Although the space is a bit small, it is fed by one of the artesian springs found within the park, and the area is alive with nature. Guests will notice minnows and other aquatic critters swimming among the moss and other vegetation in the water.
Keen geocache fans will be delighted to hear that there is a cache located within the park. Those new to this modern twist on treasure hunting will quickly catch the geocaching bug. If you haven’t tried geocaching, the Sandhills Region Challenge-Lee State Park cache is a good beginning cache. Guests hunting for this cache will find it in fairly easy terrain. The cache is regular sized and easy to locate. Use your GPS device to look for an ammo can that is hidden within the park.
Lee State Park an exceptional place for horseback riding. The park maintains 12 miles of equestrian trails, which includes 4.6 miles on Loop Road along the riverbank. The 3.3-mile main horse trail is moderately difficult with rocky terrain and wetlands. The stream that runs along the trails is clean and safe for your four-legged friends to get a drink when they get thirsty. You will also pass many artesian wells where you can get a drink of water too. All horses must have proof of a negative Coggins test that is less than one-year-old.
Guests to Lee State Park looking for a unique experience may find the South Carolina Cotton Museum in nearby Bishopville of interest. This is a small museum located off Main Street in Bishopville. The museum offers exhibits of antique implements and equipment used for farming and weaving cotton. You can learn fun facts and information regarding every step of cotton production from seed to cloth. The museum staff is knowledgeable and engaging. You can see a small room set up like a tenant farmer's home and learn how cotton was transported from the field to the market.