Congaree National Park is located in South Carolina, only 20 miles southeast of Columbia. Congaree is famous for its towering bald cypress trees in a flooded forest area. The park actually boasts the largest tract of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southern United States.
First time visitor’s tips
This National park is open all year round and is pet friendly. For those planning on exploring as much of the park as possible, be prepared and bring rain boots to walk through thick mud and shallow water for an extended period of time. The best views of the park are beyond the raised boardwalk along the beautiful floodplains.
Due to the abundance of water in the park, insects and mosquitos are always present. Come prepared with proper long clothing and insect repellant or you will be fighting the flies the whole time.
If you want to turn your visit into a weekend getaway, camping is available in Congaree National Park at Longleaf Campground with online reservations required. For us, one day in the national park is more than enough time to see and do everything we wanted.
Exploring Congaree National Park
The most popular trail in the National Park is the elevated Boardwalk Loop. This 2.4 miles loop is wheelchair accessible and provides beautiful views of the landscape.
The first section of trail is on an elevated boardwalk as regular rain can lead to high waters in the floodplain, but particularly heavy rains can even flood this.
If you want to more of the trails along the Weston Lake Loop Trail or Oakridge Trail can take you through standing water and thick mud. Along these trails you do get some of the more interesting views and breathtaking shots. In any of the trails you will get the opportunity to get close to these beautiful trees.
Heading out on the river
Most of the national park is inaccessible by foot, only reachable by canoe or kayak along the rivers. This will give you the perfect opportunity for solitude among the wilderness.
If you are looking to explore the more adventurous side of Congaree, the perfect way to challenge yourself is with a canoeing trip down the Cedar Creek. The Cedar Creek Canoe Trail winds through the Congaree Wilderness for 15 miles. It starts at Bannister’s Bridge and ends at the Congaree River. Out on the water you have the opportunity for wildlife viewing including turtles, armadillos, river otters, snakes, wading birds and maybe even an alligator!
Congaree National Park does offer a limited number of ranger-guided canoe tours throughout the year. These trips require a reservation and provide an opportunity to get an educated and in depth experience in the park.
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