It was just our luck that we seen some info for Congaree National Park in South Carolina. It was just a bit off the beaten path on our drive from Asheville, NC to Savannah, GA so we decided to stop and check it out. I have a fairly high goal of trying to visit all the national parks so this worked out well.
As we left Asheville the temperatures started to climb out of the 40’s and by the time we reached Congaree it was a beautiful 72 degrees. Ahhh, yes. Finally, some warm weather.
CONGAREE NATIONAL PARK VISITORS CENTER
There is a very nice visitor’s center that is worth visiting. Don’t forget to pick up a Junior Ranger book for kids under 12. It’s packed with fun activities and tidbits of information. Kids can also earn a junior ranger badge by completely some tasks.
Just a heads up, you might want to stop by the restroom before you head out because there are no facilities out on the trails. Oh, and if you are visiting during the summer I highly recommend bringing bug spray. It is a breeding ground for mosquitos and I have a feeling they get pretty thick during the hot days of summer. Visiting in February we didn’t have any problems with bugs (yeah!!)
CONGAREE NATIONAL PARK BOARDWALK
The Congaree National Park has a 2.4 mile boardwalk loop path that offers a wonderful walk through the park. Part of the boardwalk is raised off the forest floor and some is level with it. The entire loop is a nice way to stretch your legs after being in the car. Make sure you pick up a loop guide in the visitor center. There is great bits of information in it that tells what you are seeing. We learned about snags, knees, and old tress.
It was very quiet and serene during our visit. There were only a handful of other visitors so it was like we had the entire place to ourselves. That is a nice perk of traveling during the off season…no fighting the crowds.
Emma & I walked most of the boardwalk and then took a non-boardwalk path for a bit to see if we might spot any animals. Of course, we were there mid-day so our chances were slim of spotting anything. We did see 6 gecko lizards, a couple squirrels and quite a few birds. Congaree is a great birding spot so remember to bring your binoculars.
If you navigate well in the woods you can go off the boardwalk and hike out to some impressive giant trees. The ones along the boardwalk had some wow factor to them as well.
CONGAREE NATIONAL PARK TRAILS
There are a number of trails provided within the park system. You can also drop in a canoe or kayak and float through Cedar Creek. Although, it comes with a warning to be aware of poison ivy, mosquitoes, wasps, spiders, and snakes which is more then enough to keep me far, far away.
We really enjoyed our time at the park. We were there about two hours which was more than enough time to stroll the boardwalk and made for a nice break in our drive.
The park is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The visitor center is open 9:00 am-5:00 pm 7 days per week from October 1-March 31. The rest of the year the visitor center is open from 9:00 am-5:00 pm Sunday-Thursday and 9:00 am-7:00 pm Friday and Saturday.
It is free to visit and to attend tours.
More information about Congaree National Park can be found here.