The Congaree National Park in South Carolina is a great place to go if you really want to enjoy nature, animals, and hiking. There are so many wildlife animals, that it is really fun to sit back and watch. There are tons of chipmunks, birds, and we even saw some deer. This was such a great way to wake up in the morning. We stayed here 4 nights, and every morning we were woken up by the beautiful sounds of chirping birds. There are some really great hikes nearby too. If you enjoy doing that- I would recommend looking into the Kingsnake Trail. Its a gorgeous hike in the middle of the Columbia. The trail isn't very well maintained. There are trees that are down, so you do have to maneuver your way around, over and under them. I didn't mind doing this at all. This is a great hike, however I wouldn't recommend this hike to people who don't have much experience with hiking. I would say it was difficult, and it is a very long day hike. It is around 9 miles roundtrip. I started at around 7:30am, and finished around 3:30pm. If you like hiking, but don't want to do a long/hard one, I would suggest just doing the main loop in the campground. I believe it is called the Bluff Trail. I would recommend bringing lots of bug spray. The mosquitos are no joke along the boardwalk area, toward the back where the trails start. There is also a river nearby called Sandbar- There were plenty of people swimming and having fun in the river. The park was a little messy. Didn't really seem like people picked up after themselves. Overall, this was a great place to visit and I would highly recommend coming here. Again, there are some really great hikes and it is beautiful here.
If you like seclusion this campground is for you. The campground is primitive. There are 10 single sites that you have to walk into from the parking lot. Not a very long walk but just enough to feel secluded from traffic and other people. It has no showers, vault toilets and no running water. There is potable water at the visitor center and also flush toilets. The trails are very nice and well kept. Depending on when you go you may be the only ones on the trail. The wildlife is very neat it makes you feel like you are in a mini rainforest. There are snakes, skinks, lots of birds, insects and fox squirrels.
We stayed in Longleaf campground at Congaree National Park for a stop-over on our way back north from a family trip in Florida. The campsites at Longleaf each had a fire ring and picnic table, and were pretty good sized. The key thing to know about Longleaf is that you need to be prepared in several ways:
- You have to make a reservation online. The ranger at the visitor's center told us to make sure we had some kind of documentation of our reservation. Reception can be spotty, so printing your reservation ahead of time might be a good idea.
- There is one parking lot, and you'll be walking with your stuff into your campsite. It isn't far, but be prepared to carry things. (Note: The walk into Bluff campground is further than Longleaf)
- There is no potable water at either campground. Bring your own. (Relatedly, there are only vault toilets at the campground)
We stayed in campsite 6 at Longleaf, which was great. Campsites 1-3 are closer to the lot, but also closer to the walk that everyone takes from their cars to their sites. For a little more space/privacy, opt for campsites 4 and above.
Although the campground is barebones, it had everything we needed and made for a great stop for us. Most of the park trails were underwater when we were there after a recent flood. It seemed like paddling would have been an optimal way to see the park and surrounding areas, but even so, we had a great time. There were lots of people out on the boardwalk trails, including lots of kids and dogs. Before you hit the trails, stop in the Visitor's Center and pick up the interpretive brochures on the types of trees/wildlife - they have kid versions and grown-up versions. Both were helpful in understanding the unique environment of the floodplain.
there is no running water or electric. Take the 2 mile hike and head to Longleaf sites.It's only $5!
There plenty of trails and the kayaking is fantastic, one of my favs.
We camped here to see the synchronous fireflies, and loved our stay! The group site was plenty big enough for all of the children, the hiking was excellent, and the fireflies were one of the most magical things I've ever seen!
Congaree is one of my favorite parks to visit. I love walking around the boardwalk doing the self guided nature tour. Every time you go the landscape is a little different because of the flood plains. You can see the effects of hurricanes and fires from the past. Great place for kayaking or canoeing. For two weeks in may, it is one of the best places in the United States to see the fireflies migration. There are lots of great hiking trails for all skill levels.
Sites 2,10 and 8 are private or not to close to other sites. It a easy walk in from the parking lot. Bathroom are clean but no water anywhere next the campground. The sites were clean but the tree roots are horrible, it night you will trip over them and there will be some under your tent. Very nice park office,young ranger a bit rude but the volunteers nice.
Campground was very clean, but also provides very close quarters. We stayed over a Saturday and Sunday night and at least half of the spots were taken each night. One group spot was claimed Saturday night, which unfortunately made for a somewhat loud experience. Sound travels very far in this environment, and we could hear every word our neighbors were saying at 7am. However, the pit toilet was kept very clean, as were the camping spots and trails. Easy walk into the campsites from the parking lot, making this more of a "car camping" than primitive camping experience. There is easy access to all of the trails in the park, which are open 24/7. We took advantage of the Full Super Moon and did the boardwalk trail through the swamp at night, an experience I would HIGHLY recommend to anyone!
This spot was one of many on a fall paddling vacation, but this stop didn't go as planned. The campground only has a few sites and they are first come, first serve. There is a group campsite across the field from where the other sites are located. While the setting is incredible and the park itself a true gem, we did not feel safe enough to stay at the campground.
As soon as we got to the campground (after we went to the Visitor's Center for our permit) we were approached by a man with an axe by his side. Our dog didn't like him either, he immediately began growling. He asked a lot of questions and hung around the entire time we were unloading our car. FYI, you cannot drive up to these sites.
After trying to shake the feeling this guy gave us we decided to load everything up and find a hotel for the evening. We re-visted the VC and let the rangers know about our encounter. The next day we returned to the park to paddle and received a call from a law enforcement ranger saying they dealt with the other individual and apologized for our inconvenience.
All that being said, I would absolutely attempt to stay here again. Why? Well because it's an incredible park with a lot to explore. I also appreciated how responsive the rangers were regarding our concern. The reality is, this is a very secluded campground and has a lot of potential.
Having been on the road for about three months before coming to Congaree, we were happy to arrive to such a quiet and tucked-away campground. For $5 per night, Bluff Campground was the perfect spot to hole up for a few days and relax surrounded by the old growth forest of Congaree National Park.
Our time at Congaree was different from the other national parks we visited, because South Carolina had just undergone major flooding and much of Congaree -- especially its trails -- were under water.
With no crowds and not much to explore, our three days in the park was very relaxing. We chose Bluff Campground -- a one-mile walk-in campground near the visitor center -- because we knew it would be less popular than Longleaf Campground, and we knew we’d be spending a lot of time there. The one mile hike seemed further than we thought because of our heavy loads, but once we arrived at our camp, set up our tent, chairs, hammocks, and slack line, we were able to just make the easy walk in and out each day.
The campground itself has no facilities; its only amenities are the fire ring and picnic table at each site. We encountered only one other camper in our two nights here. We did encounter many mosquitoes, though, so don’t forget bug spray!
At Congaree, there are several hiking trails and kayaking trails that we would have liked to do, but with our plans foiled by rain, we spent time at the visitor center, around the short boardwalk trail adjacent to the visitor center, and kayaking through the flooded plains, straight off the boardwalk.
You can read much more about our three days in the park on our blog: Switchback Kids (Congaree)