Santee State Park is a beauty to behold with over 10 miles of trails, open areas, and gorgeous waterfront views. It nestles next to the largest man-made lake in the state of South Carolina. Santee State Park covers over 2,500 acres of lush green forest, which is great for a weekend getaway in an RV. To put it simply, it’s a “fisherman’s paradise.” The lake is well stocked with catfish, striped bass, largemouth bass, bream, and crappies. Using either of the two fishing piers, one located by each campground, you are able to find plenty of space to fish from. With friendly neighbors and a bait shop near the campground, you are all set to have a wonderful fishing experience.
There are over 158 campsites for RV and tent camping, with everything that you could need available here. After checking in, you can stretch your legs in one of two campgrounds available, Lakeshore or Cypress View. Each campsite is directly by the lake, due Lake Marion’s enormity of 110,000 acres, which runs through five different counties. You can go fishing or perhaps take a stroll and listen for the state bird, the Carolina Wren, singing its song all year round. With mild evenings and moderate rainfall throughout the year, Santee State Park remains one of the best places to bring an RV and spend the weekend in South Carolina.
RV Rentals in Santee State Park
Transportation in Santee State Park
Located along State Road 38, Santee State Park is easy to find. Once you turn off Interstate I-95, follow Highway 6, with 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 with 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. Weekends are busier for the park but on a weekday it has many open sites for your RV.
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.
Campgrounds and parking in Santee State Park
Campsites in Santee State Park
Santee / Santee Lakes KOA
The heavily shaded and recently built Sante/Santee Lakes KOA campground is nestled on the shoreline of Lake Marion, South Carolina’s largest lake. The campground is less than 100 miles from the borders of North Carolina and Georgia, providing the opportunity to explore the tri-state area. Campground 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, and a dog walk and Kamp K-9.
Cypress View pays homage to the cypress forest that is in the middle of Lake Marion. This campground offers 50 sites with very spacious lots. Half of the lots are very shady, while the other half is only partially shady. The maximum length for a trailer or RV is 60 feet. Each site will differ in size and you can see the length when you register for your lot. Amenities available include restrooms, hot showers, a picnic table and a fire ring at each site. Water and electric hookups are available. There is also a dump station on-site that you are able to use. You can stay up to 14 days at a time and book your reservation up to 13 months in advance. Parking a big rig at Cypress View is a bit easier since most sites are level and paved with concrete or gravel. You will love the gorgeous lakefront views if you stay at this campground. You can also bring your furry friend with you since this campground is pet-friendly.
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 it changes depending on what your site number is. If you mistakenly register to a smaller site than needed, staff on duty will be able to assist you in changing to a bigger campsite, if available. Amenities include restrooms, hot showers, a picnic table, and a fire ring at each site. Water and electric hookups are available. Despite not having sewer hookups, there is a dump station onsite that you are able to use. You can stay up to 14 days at a time but you are welcome to come back as many times as you want to. Reservations can be made up to 13 months in advance. 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.
There are no first-come, first-served campgrounds at this state park.
Seasonal activities in Santee State Park
Santee State Park is a fisherman’s paradise. Not only is the lake well stocked, but there is also a great of variety of fish available. A valid state South Carolina fishing license is required before you go, so be sure to pack it in your luggage. 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.
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.
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 seven and a half 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.
Visiting General Francis Marion's Tomb
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.
Going on Boat Tours
Fisheagle Wildlife Tours has been in operation for the last 23 years in Santee State Park. There are two different types of tours that are offered which differ in duration by one hour. Each tour is a round trip highlighting different parts of the lake and its unique plant and animal life. On the boat you can pull out your binoculars and watch the osprey, blue jays, egrets, or herons in their natural habitat.
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 on a consistent basis 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. Be sure to pack a bird book and binoculars in your RV.