**Updated : December 2022**
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Is Congaree National Park worth visiting? The short answer, YES. Although this is a smaller park that can be easily explored in a single day, we LOVED it. Congaree is truly unlike any park we visited before - and it was our 29th National Park! Plus, it is one of the only National Parks that requires NO entry fee (meaning it's FREE!). We visited Congaree in December, and loved that we had almost the entire place to ourselves. However, we've also been told that visiting during firefly season (early summer) can be absolutely magical! Read on to find our complete guide to Congaree, including nearby places to stay, eat, and the best things to do!
Where is Congaree National Park?
Congaree National Park is the only National Park in South Carolina, and was established in 2003 covering a total of 26,276 acres. As the 10 least visited national park, Congaree receives about 215,181 visitors each year. This park has wide biodiversity, with lots of plant and animal life hidden throughout the swamp. You can keep your eyes out for wildlife like deer, bobcats, wild pigs, opossums, squirrels, and river otters. It's also important to note that there are a large number of snakes in the area, some of which can be venomous. The Congaree National Parks website also shares that these snakes are commonly seen on the trails throughout the summer months. Congaree also has a rich history, and in the past was a refuge for those escaping slavery.
Located almost right in the middle of South Carolina, the best way to get to Congaree NP is to drive from Columbia, the closest metropolitan area to the park. For planning purposes, we've listed some driving times from other major cities near the park :
Where to Stay When Visiting
Finding a place to stay in or near the park will most likely be the hardest part about planning your trip to Congaree. Although there is camping in the park, other places like hotels might require a bit of a drive. We've gone ahead and split this category into two groups: "In the Park" and "Outside the Park."
*It's important to note that all campers will need to have a reservation ahead of time in order to camp in the park. These can be made at this link.*
And Is There Anywhere to Eat..?
Our honest recommendation is to bring in what you'd like to eat with you, but please remember to follow the LEAVE NO TRACE principle. There are no restaurants or food services in the park, so we've rounded up some of the nearby places to eat. We did not stop at any of these places ourselves, however, these are the locations that we would be most likely to stop at next time (a.k.a. the places that looked the least sketchy):
*Ok, so clearly this section needs some work. If you have any recommendations we will gladly take them, leave them in the comments below!*
Must Do's in the Park
Although Congaree National Park might seem small, there are a number of fun things to do in the area! We highly recommend :
Hiking in the Park
Congaree National Park has over 20 miles of hiking trails, and we've gathered the information you need to know for each one! Our favorite was the Boardwalk Loop Trail - and if you only have time for one hike we highly recommend this one!
Watch our adventure in Congaree National Park here!
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We're Deborah & Tyler, a pretty average husband and wife duo from a pretty average state that didn't want to live so averagely. After our *Covid wedding we sold everything that didn't fit into the Jeep and moved to Alaska, then decided to take a gap year!
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