Secret National Parks: Congaree National Park
Nothing screams summer fun like a national park, but who wants to visit Yellowstone again? This week, we're bringing you some secret spots to enjoy.
Although small, Congaree National Park is the largest remnant of old-growth floodplain forest left in North America. Sounds thrilling, right? It actually is: The park offers some of the tallest trees in the US and they create one of the highest natural canopies in the world.
Unlike some of the other spots we've featured this week, accessing Congaree is fairly straight forward. It's about a 20-minute ride outside Columbia, South Carolina and is easily accessible via I-77. You'll arrive at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center and then set out for hiking, camping, canoeing or just wandering around the acres of hardwood and pine forest.
Begin your journey on the 2.5-mile elevated boardwalk that winds through the park. It's raised about eight feet off the ground, and though it's three miles from the Congaree River, still manages to flood over about every five years. If that sounds too serene, venture onto the King Snake Trail. The 11-mile hike offers a more remote tour of the Congaree.
The weekend is a great time to visit, as the park offers guided canoe tours. (If you're not part of the tour, then you have to lug your own canoe into the park.) Paddling along the river you'll likely encounter the native wildlife, while staying somewhat cool in the shade of the trees.
This newly designated park is the first and only national park in South Carolina. So fill your Nalgene bottle with sweet tea, and go slow as you paddle down the river.
· Congaree National Park [Official Site]
· National Parks coverage [Jaunted]