We’ve been to 11 National Parks so far, and we must admit Congaree National Park wasn’t high on our list until we visited. This NP is an unusually interesting place, especially if you have a rudimentary history knowledge of North American forests over the past 120 years.
Quick Note: My “rudimentary history” knowledge of North American forests over the past 120 years consist of ONE CHAPTER from the well-known book by Bill Bryson “A Walk in the Woods.” I was gifted this book by my buddy Justin who plans to hike the AT with me one day!
If you ever want to see what the landscape looked like when Native Americans lived across the land, then Congaree National Park is a pretty good representation. Astonishing biodiversity exists in Congaree NP, the largest intact expanse of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern United States. Waters from the Congaree and Wateree Rivers sweep through the floodplain, carrying nutrients and sediments that nourish and rejuvenate this ecosystem and support national and state champion trees’ growth.
Hiking is aplenty at Congaree, with all levels of trails & many of which are accessible. We visited the Harry Hampton Visitors Center and easily walked the Boardwalk with our group (ages 10-46).
I’ll be honest; this park appears to be a little underfunded so much that you may see some older displays at the visitor center or 1/2 completed work in progress on the trails, but don’t let that discourage you! We found the Rangers to be overly welcoming and eager to share information about the park with us.
This park only gets about 130,000 visitors a year, so it probably won’t be busy if you choose to visit. While it doesn’t have the expansive views of Glacier National Park or the breathtaking visuals of the Grand Canyon, Congaree is definitely worth a stop if you’re traveling along I-95 or I-26 in SC.
What also made this day trip pretty awesome is we got to visit with some of our Ohana.
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
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