Santee State Park is a beauty to behold that is perfect for RV travelers wanting to kick back and relax or go adventuring. The park is located next to Lake Marion, which is the largest man-made lake in the state of South Carolina. Santee State Park covers over 2,500 acres of lush green forest and with over 10 miles of trails, and gorgeous waterfront views for RV lovers to enjoy, you are guaranteed to have a great time.
Lake Marion is the main attraction to the park and features so many activities to keep visitors of all ages entertained. The lake has over 110,000 acres in surface area, so kayaking and boating are very popular ways to go exploring. The lake is well stocked with catfish, striped bass, largemouth bass, bream, and crappie so that fishing can be really fun. There is even a bait shop near the campground, so you are all set to have a wonderful fishing experience. Off the lake, there are miles of multi-use trails and plenty of birdwatching opportunities, along with the tomb of General Francis Marion, who the lake is named after.
There are over 158 campsites for RV and tent camping across two campgrounds, with everything that you could need available here. Each campsite is near the lake, and they are equipped with some impressive features, such as water and electric hookups for 30 and 50 amps, multiple bathhouses, and a dump station. RVs up to 60 feet in length can stay at the park, but if you have a larger rig, consider heading across the lake to the Santee / Santee Lakes KOA. The park is also home to numerous cabins, tent-only sites, and a group site. With mild evenings and moderate rainfall throughout the year, Santee State Park remains one of the best places to bring an RV and spend time in South Carolina.
Located along State Road 38, Santee State Park is easy to find. Once you turn off Interstate I-95, follow Highway 6, take a few turns through the town of Santee, and the park will be one mile to the west of the town.
There are a few things to be mindful of when traveling by a rig or a car. Take into consideration the weather as it can make the unpaved parts of the campground extremely muddy and potentially difficult to navigate through. During the peak season and on off-season weekends, the park will be busier, so you may have to be patient when trying to access either campground or parking areas.
The roads leading to the park are paved, and the majority of the sites have gravel rather than just dirt or sand. With its vast open fields, it’s easy to keep children and loved ones in your line of sight. Seeing as there are only two campgrounds, there will be signs to indicate which way to go and mile markers to help you out along the way.
Parking is available throughout the park, including at the Visitor Center and campgrounds. This is great news for those just visiting for the day since you will be able to easily park your rig and go explore.
The Lakeshore Campground is the larger of the two campgrounds at Santee State Park, with 108 sites offering both pull-through and back-in parking for trailers and RVs. A number of sites can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 40 feet in length, but be mindful of what size restrictions are in place for your chosen site since not all are big enough for 40-foot RVs or trailers. These campsites are pet-friendly and offer gorgeous lakefront views. Most sites are unpaved and some could be slightly sloped, so keep that in mind if you are parking an RV. You can choose a shaded or open site, depending on what you are looking for.
Amenities at the Lakeshore Campground include restrooms, hot showers, a picnic table, and a fire ring at each site. Water and electric hookups are available, along with a dump station on-site that you are able to use.
The reservation policy for the Lakeside and Cypress View Campgrounds are the same, so you need to book at least a two-night stay. Reservations can be made as far as 13 months in advance, and you can stay up to 14 nights at a time. The campground is open all year round.
The Cypress View Campground pays homage to the cypress forest that is in the middle of Lake Marion. This is the smaller of the two campgrounds at Santee State Park and has 50 sites with very spacious lots. Half of the lots are very shady, while the other half is only partially shady. You will love the gorgeous lakefront views if you stay at this campground. The maximum length for a trailer or RV is 60 feet, and all sites are equipped with electric and water hookups for you to enjoy.
Since the campground is located right near the lake and parking a big rig at Cypress View is easier than at the Lakeshore Campground since most sites are level and have a gravel surface. Amenities available include a picnic table and a fire ring at each site, along with restrooms, hot showers, and a dump station for your convenience. You can also bring your furry friend with you since this campground is pet-friendly.
You can stay up to 14 days at a time and book your reservation up to 13 months in advance. All campground reservations must be for a minimum of two nights and during the summer months, the campground is often full every day.
Another great option for RV lovers looking for a campground with more amenities is the nearby Santee / Santee Lakes KOA. Nestled on the shoreline of Lake Marion opposite the park, the campground has a range of different sites available to choose from. These include pull-through sites with full hookups, 50-amp electric only, 30-amp full hookups, and 30-amp electric and water only.
Rigs up to 85 feet in length can use the Santee / Santee Lakes KOA, so if you are traveling in a larger rig this is the best campground to stay in in the area. Some of the great amenities include Wi-Fi, a pool, a boat ramp and fishing pier, miniature golf, laundry facilities, a playground, a picnic area, a community fire pit, a game room, a store, hot showers, bathrooms, a dog walk, and Kamp K-9.
Reservations for the Santee / Santee Lakes KOA are vital if you have a larger rig over 65 feet but it is also recommended that you make one anyway to secure your site.
If you are looking for a place to stay within Santee State Park outside of your RV, you should consider staying at one of the cabins. There are a total of 30 cabins within the park, including ten cabins located on piers that are on the edge of the lake. A further 20 are on the lakeshore, so you will still have a nice view.
All of the cabins are suitable for up to four people and contain two bedrooms that feature free Wi-Fi, a small kitchen, heating, air conditioning, and room for two vehicles to be parked outside. You also won't have to bring any linen with you since it is all provided as part of your booking.
Reservations for the cabins are usually in high demand, so if you want to book one, make sure that you plan your trip well in advance so that you don't miss out. Reservations can be made up to 13 months in advance, and a two-night minimum stay is required.
Visiting Santee State Park with a group? If so, you should consider staying at the group camping area. Available for members of an organized group, the group camping area is large enough for up to 100 people to use at any given time. The group camping area is totally primitive with no water, electric, or sewer hookups available, and you can only stay here in tents. Despite having no hookups, there is a water collection point available so you won't have to travel and there are also restrooms only a short walk away. Reservations are a must for the group camping area at Santee State Park, and they can only be made by calling the park prior to your arrival.
For those planning on doing some tent camping during your visit, you will be pleased to know that there are 10 tent-only sites within the Lakeshore Campground. Located in the northeastern section of the campground, all of the tent-only sites are equipped with 30-amp electric hookups and also feature a water collection point, picnic table, and fire ring. If all of the tent-only sites are booked out or you want a larger spot to pitch your tent, you can also reserve any other sites in the campground since they are all tent-friendly.
South Carolina is home to over 127 bird species that build their nests in the area and an additional 104 birds that have been spotted traveling through the state consistently as they migrate south each winter. If you follow the Oak Pinolly Trail, not only will you be able to see beautiful flowers like wild azaleas, but also lovely birds as well, like the Brown Thrasher and the state bird, the Carolina Wren. Out on the lake, you may even get the chance to see osprey, blue jays, egrets, or herons in their natural habitat. Be sure to pack a bird book and binoculars in your RV
A great way to experience a different perspective on Lake Marion is to go on a boat tour. A private company has been running tours from Santee State Park for over 20 years, so you can experience the lake to the fullest and be dropped back to your basecamp. There are two different types of tours that are offered, which differ in duration by one hour. Each tour is round trip, highlighting different parts of the lake and its unique plant and animal life. There is a fee for the tours, and you can book a spot prior to your arrival at the park.
The entire state of South Carolina pays a huge tribute to General Francis Marion, often referred to as “The Swamp Fox,” due to his contributions as an intelligence spy in the American Revolution. Lake Marion is not only named after him but his house, the “Pond Bluff,” lies at the bottom of the lake. His tomb commemorates his involvement in the American Revolution and pays homage to the sacrifice and danger he went through to help his country. If you are a history buff, checking out his tomb is a must-see during your visit.
Santee State Park is a fisherman’s paradise. No matter the time of day, if you have a fishing rod and some good bait, you are able to recline by the shore and enjoy the peace and quiet of nature. Not only is the lake well stocked, but there is also a great variety of fish available. The biggest largemouth bass in South Carolina history was caught in the lake, and other common catches include bream, white perch, white bass, and chain. A valid state South Carolina fishing license is required before you go, so be sure to pack it in your luggage.
Lake Marion is perfect for exploring on a kayak, with a cypress forest in the middle of the lake swarming with wildlife and lore; it’s a great place for the whole family to enjoy. Whether you are a novice or a professional in the art of kayaking, there are trainers available to show you the ropes and help you enjoy your first of many trips around the lake. Be sure to bring your sunscreen with you and pack an extra set of clothes in your camper in case you tip over. If you don't have your own kayak, there are some available for rent so you won't have to sit on the banks and just watch.
Santee State Park offers four different options for nature walks and hiking. Each of the four trails varies in length, but they all offer a great chance to see native wildlife. The Biking Trail is the longest route at 7.5 miles, with a mile marker indicating the distance you have traveled. If you want to tackle this trail, then pack a pair of sturdy hiking boots as the trail is rated moderate to difficult. The Biking Trail loops around the majority of the park. If you wish to take a detour to one of the other trails, remember to take your water bottle and sunscreen.