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History Of Congaree National Park

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More than 52 million acres of floodplain forests were present in the Southeast United States in the late 1800s.

The trees began disappearing as they were harvested for lumber. In less than 50 years most of the bottomland forests were decimated by post Civil War loggers.

In 1969, The Sierra Club launched a campaign to save this area from exploitation by the private owners due to the high prices of wood. Due to this campaign, Congress declared the Congaree Swamp a National Monument on October 18, 1976.

Six years later the national monument became a Biosphere Reserve on June 30, 1983, and almost two-thirds were declared a protected wild area on October 24, 1988, in addition to being designated as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area by the American Bird Conservancy on July 26, 2001.

On November 10, 2003, Congress changed the designation of the monument site to Congaree National Park and expanded its boundaries by about 4,500 acres.

In addition to being a designated Wild Area, a Biosphere Reserve, an Important Bird Area and a National Natural Monument, Congaree National Park has camping sites and offers hiking, canoeing, primitive camping, interpretive walks, and canoe tours, kayaking and bird watching, and environmental education programs.

Nearly two-thirds of the park is designated as a wilderness area.

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Is Congaree National Park Worth Visiting

YES! While Congaree may not be the largest or most visited National Park in the United States the area was protected for a reason.

Visiting the park provides the opportunity to see some of the largest trees in the southeast along with one of the most biodiverse forests in the nation.

The park offers the opportunity to walk the Boardwalk Trail through a bottomland hardwood forest.

Since the park is pretty small you only really need about a half day to visit the park and see the main highlights. If you plan to do extensive hiking you will want to plan for a longer visit.

Details About Congaree National Park

Size -Congaree National Park has 26,276-acres total and about 15,000 acres are designated as a wilderness area.

This includes the largest intact expanse of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern United States.

Congaree is currently ranked at #58 out of 63 National Parks by Size. The only National Parks that are smaller than Congaree are Indiana Dunes, Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Hot Springs, and Gateway Arch NP.

Date Established

On November 10, 2003, Congress changed the designation of the monument site to Congaree National Park.

Visitation

In 2021, Congaree NP had 215,181 park visitors.

In 2020, Congaree NP had 119,306 park visitors.

In 2019, Congaree NP had 159,445 park visitors.

Congaree is one of the least visited national parks when compared to some of the bigger parks.

Learn more about the most visited and least visited National Parks in the US

Congaree National Park Address

100 National Park Road, Hopkins, SC 29061

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Frequently Asked Questions :

  • Where is Dog Food Center of Congaree?

    Dog Food Center of Congaree is a Home Improvement, located at: 832 Main St, West Columbia, South Carolina 29170.

  • Want to book a hotel in South Carolina?

    We can surely help you find the best one according to your needs. Compare and book now!

  • What is the phone number of Dog Food Center of Congaree?

    You can try to dialing this number: 755-1320

  • Where are the coordinates of the Dog Food Center of Congaree?

    Latitude: 33.9086602

Congaree National Park Camping

Camping at Congaree is tent only. RV and/or car camping is not permitted within the park.

All visitors planning to camp at Longleaf or Bluff Campgrounds are required to make reservations via Recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777.

Longleaf Campground: $10 per night for a regular tent site $20 per night for a group site

Bluff Campground: $5 per night for a regular tent site

Backcountry Camping: FREE

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Where Is Congaree National Park

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Congaree National Park is located in central South Carolina on the East Coast of the United States of America.

Major cities near Congaree NP

Estimated distance from major cities nearby

Columbia, South Carolina – 17 miles, 25 minutes

Charleston, South Carolina – 104 miles, 1 hour 48 minutes

Charlotte, North Carolina – 108 miles, 1 hour 40 minutes

Savannah, Georgia – 147 miles, 2 hours 24 minutes

Atlanta, Georgia – 230 miles, 3 hours 30 minutes

Jacksonville, Florida – 278 miles, 4 hours 10 minutes

Williamsburg, Virginia – 416 miles, 6 hours 5 minutes

Nashville, Tennessee – 462 miles, 7 hours

Washington DC – 483 miles, 7 hours, 15 minutes

Louisville, Kentucky – 528 miles, 8 hours

National Parks near Congaree NP

Cuyahoga Valley National Park – 600 miles

Where is the Congaree National Park Visitor Center?

The Harry Hampton Visitor Center is located on National Park Road . The road ends at the park visitor center and parking lot for the boardwalk trail.

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Best Things To Do In Congaree National Park

If you decide to visit the Congaree NP please be sure to check out the Harry Hampton visitor center where National Park Service rangers have up-to-date information on the state of the roads.

Here you will also find presentations on the park’s natural history and efforts made so far to protect the swamp.

The junior ranger program includes information that can be found in the visitor center and by walking the boardwalks. You will want to give yourself an hour or two depending on the age of the participant.

Congaree River Blue Trail

In addition to hiking trails, the park has a marked canoe and kayak trail of 20-mile, on Cedar Creek.

The slow moving Cedar Creek flows through the floodplain offering the opportunity to see the park from the water.

You can bring your own canoe/kayak or contact these outfitters directly for schedules, prices and other information:

Make sure to check the current water levels and updates on the parks canoe trail info page. Make sure to check water levels for Cedar Creek and the Congaree River before hitting the water.

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Things To Know Before Your Visit To Congaree National Park

Entrance fee

There is no entrance fee for visiting the park.

Planning a National Park vacation? America the Beautiful/National Park Pass covers entrance fees for an entire year to all US National Park Sites and over 2,000 Federal Recreation Fee Sites.

The park pass covers everyone in the car for per vehicle sites and for up to 4 adults for per-person sites.

Buy on REI.com and REI will donate 10% of pass proceeds to the National Forest Foundation, National Park Foundation and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities.

Learn more about National Parks Passes!

Time Zone

EST- Eastern Standard Time

Pets

Congaree National Park is a very dog-friendly park. Pets are allowed on all trails, including the boardwalk, as well as in the campgrounds.

Just remember that all pets must be on a leash and under your control at all times and you have water available for them.

Cell Service

Cell service can be hit and miss within the park. Make sure to stop by the visitor center and picked up a current trail map and park guide.

Park Hours

The park is open 24 hours a day year-round.

Wi-Fi

Public WiFi is available in the Harry Hampton Visitor Center and breezeway 24-hours a day.

Insect Repellent

Insect repellent is important at Congaree National Park. The mosquitoes can be downright unbearable for those unprepared.

Ticks are common here too and it is important to check yourself after spending time outdoors to ensure that you do not have any on you or your pets, especially after a hike.

Parking

About Congaree National Park

Congaree National Park is designated an old-growth forest and has one of the largest and majestic concentrations of champion trees.

Champion trees are trees that are found on the list of the National Register of Big Trees and refer to some of the largest trees of each variety recorded. There are 25 Champion Trees within the park that can boast being the largest for their species.

There are champion trees here from 15 different species some of them include a 157-foot sweetgum, a 133-foot swamp chestnut oak, a 127-foot common persimmon, a 167-foot loblolly pine, a 154-foot cherry bark oak, a 135-foot American elm, and a 131-foot overcup oak.

There are bald cypress trees with 25+feet circumferences.

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Hiking At Congaree National Park

If you love hiking and nature walks then the Weston Lake Loop Trail , Bluff Trail , King Snake Trail and Oakridge Trail is exactly what you need!

Most visitors choose to walk the Boardwalk Loop Trail, a 2.4-mile elevated walkway that goes through the swampy environment.

You can spot raccoons, deer, and even bobcats along the way. The park waters have interesting creatures such as amphibians, turtles, snakes, alligators and many species of fish.

The park is filled with amazing plant and animal species.

Boardwalk Loop Trail

Download the Digital Boardwalk Tour Guide

This is the most popular trail within the park. It is easily accessible from the park visitor center.

There are benches along the trail which we highly suggest enjoying. We were in awe of the birds and nature sounds we enjoyed along the trail.

Bluff Trail

Distance – 1.8 miles, easy

The Bluff Trail loops north of the visitor center and connects to the elevated boardwalk for a short distance.

Sims Trail

Distance – 3.2 miles, easy

The Sims Trail follows an old gravel road and runs from the Bluff Trail to Cedar Creek.

Weston Lake Overlook

Weston Lake Trail

Distance – 4.5 miles, moderate

The Weston Lake Trail offers great views of Cedar Creek. Make sure to look for otters and wading birds.

Oakridge Trail

This trail is great for wildlife viewing but is considered difficult to follow in areas.

River Trail

Distance – 11.1 miles, difficult

This trail leads to the Congaree River. It can be difficult to follow in some areas.

Congaree National Park Weather And Seasons

The park has a humid subtropical climate which includes mild winters and wet humid warm summers.

Spring

Spring is the perfect time to visit the park. The weather is generally warm with highs in the mid to upper 70s.

Rainfall averages around 3 inches per month in the spring. Mosquitoes are not normally an issue.

Summer

Humidity is HIGH and makes the ambient temperature feel a lot hotter than it may say on the weather apps.

Thunderstorms are common during the summer along with the park receiving the highest amount of monthly rainfall. Summer rainfall averages around 4.5 inches a month.

Autumn/Fall

Average rainfall is around 3 inches a month. The water levels on Cedar Creek are ideal for a paddling trip in the Fall.

Winter

Winter is when flooding is most frequently experienced.

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Congaree Picnic Shelter Reservations

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The picnic shelter next to Parking Lot #1 at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center is available for reservations at Recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777.

If the picnic shelter has not been reserved, it is available for free use to visitors on a first-come, first-serve basis. The picnic shelter can be reserved at 9:00 am- 1:00 pm and 1:00 pm- 5:00 pm.

A half-day reservation is $25. and a full day reservation is $50.

There are no National Park Lodges within Congaree NP.

Lodging near Congaree NP can be found in Columbia and Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

Country Inn & Suites by Radisson – Free continental breakfast, a library, and laundry facilities are just a few of the amenities provided at Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Columbia, SC. Stay connected with free in-room Wi-Fi, and guests can find other amenities such as a fireplace in the lobby and a 24-hour business center.

Hampton Inn & Suites Columbia/Southeast-Ft. Jackson – free continental breakfast, a firepit, and dry cleaning/laundry services at Hampton Inn & Suites Columbia/Southeast-Ft. Jackson. Stay connected with free in-room Wi-Fi, and guests can find other amenities such as a 24-hour gym and a 24-hour business center.

Microtel Inn & Suites – Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Columbia/At Fort Jackson provides amenities like laundry facilities and a business center. Stay connected with free in-room Wi-Fi.

The closest lodging can be found in Columbia, SC which is approximately 20 minutes from the park.

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Getting To Congaree National Park

Closest Airport

Columbia Metropolitan Airport, located in Columbia, South Carolina. It is approximately 30 minutes and 24 miles to the park. The airport code is CAE.

Charlotte Douglass International Airport, located in Charlotte, North Carolina. It is approximately one hour and forty-eight minutes and 111 miles to the park. The airport code is CLT.

Charleston International Airport in Charleston, South Carolina. It is approximately one hour and forty-eight minutes and 102 miles to the park. The airport code is CHS.

Driving Directions

Charleston, South Carolina

Take Interstate 26, Exit 145B. Take U.S. Highway 601 North to SC 48 . Follow SC 48 West. Turn left on South Cedar Creek Road then right on Old Bluff Road to the park entrance.

Charleston SC to Congaree National Park is 103 miles, about 1 hour and 55 minutes

Charlotte, North Carolina

Take Interstate 77 South towards Columbia for approximately 95 miles to Exit 5, Bluff Road. Follow directions below from Interstate 77, Exit 5.

From Interstate 77, Exit 5At Exit 5 turn onto SC Hwy 48 East/Bluff Road. Drive approximately 8 miles and then take a slight right onto Old Bluff Road. Follow Old Bluff Road for 4.5 miles to the park entrance sign, which will be on the right.

Proceed one mile to the Harry Hampton Visitor Center. Parking lots will be on the right.

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