Most Popular Campgrounds in Congaree National Park
Named after the Native American Tribe that lived there centuries ago, Congaree National Park is one of the country’s most beautiful and unearthly national parks. Just a 30-minute drive from downtown Columbia, Congaree boasts a lush backcountry of bone-white cypress stumps and swamps that are filled with inky-black water. Hiking or canoeing through America’s largest contiguous, old-growth floodplain forest is an experience like no other. And unless backcountry is your thing, camping within Congaree is limited. These three are the closest, most-frequented campgrounds where you’ll be able to explore this unique national park.
1. Longleaf / Bluff Campground, SC
Longleaf Campground and Bluff Campground are located in spectacular wooded areas on a bluff in Congaree National Park. These are the two main campgrounds in the area and many of the park trails can be accessed from them. The main difference between the two is that Bluff Campground is a one-mile hike from the registration station and does not have restroom facilities. While water is not available at both, Longleaf at least has two vault toilets located at the entrance of the campground. With no electrical hookups or access for RVs, these sites are a tent-campers dream.
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2. Poinsett State Park, SC
Only an hour’s drive from Congaree, Poinsett State Park is your next best bet when looking for a base camp to explore the national park. This campground is popular among mountain bikers as it sits right in the heart of a great mountain biking trail system. The site also features all of the modern conveniences such as drinking water, electric hookups, and showers, all of which can be heaven sent after a long day of riding. With Manchester State Forest nearby and a pond to swim in, this campground will keep you busy.
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2. Santee State Park, SC
Also an hour’s drive from Congaree, Santee State Park is a great alternative for exploring the national park. One of the best things about this spot is that it sits along Lake Marion, which is ideal for splashing about or taking advantage of the abundant catfish population. Camping is offered on the lakes shore, but for those who prefer to spend the night indoors, cabins are available. With spacious camp sites, biking and hiking trails and pontoon boat tours of the flooded cypress forest, this campground is hard to beat.
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With 22,000-acres of diverse South Carolina forest, Congaree has so much to offer. Teeming with wildlife and natural wonder, this national park is best experienced by exploring its many miles of waterways in a canoe or kayak. For those who prefer dry-land or are casual day-trippers, the 2.4-mile elevated boardwalk will take you deep into the other-worldly, old-growth forest.
The Dyrt’s Ranger duo the Switchback Kids, who spent a year visiting all 59 National Parks, have put together this incredible video to document their firsthand experience in Congaree with the hopes of improving the visit of others.
Switchback Kids Ranger Tip: About 10 times per year, much of the park is underwater from normal flooding. When this happens, you can set out in a kayak and paddle through the maze of trees, wherever you want. The flooding is not great for hiking, though, so check the current conditions before you head into the park.
Win gear for camping Congaree
When you review campsites across the US on The Dyrt, you get the chance to win outdoor gear. In South Carolina, you have the chance to win a $100 gift card from Grand Trunk, a $100 gift card from Gregory Packs, and an MH2 Headlamp from Ledlenser. Check out the contest leaderboard, review your camping experience, earn points for your review, and you could win prizes!
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