Congaree National Park one of the more underrated national parks that we have visited. The park is located in the heart of South Carolina with beautiful landscapes featuring bald cypress trees in the flooded forest.
Congaree is one of the few completely pet-friendly national parks in the United States and opens all year round. While hiking through the park remember to bring rain or hiking boots, as you may need to trek through thick mud and shallow unless you prefer to remain on the boardwalk. Also, bring insect repellent and wear long sleeves, as there are many insects and mosquitos due to year-round standing water.
Although you can observe the entire park in one day, camping is available at Longleaf Campground to make a full weekend getaway. If you choose to go camping, you need to make online reservations in advance.
What to do at Congaree National Park
Walk the Elevated Boardwalk.
The Elevated Boardwalk is the most popular trail in Congaree. This 2.4-mile loop is wheelchair accessible and allows you to see a great overview of what the park has to offer. It is perfect for any landscape photography lover.
Weston Lake Loop Trail
In order to hike the Weston Lake loop or the Oakridge trail, you will need serious waterproof shoes, I recommend anything with Gore-Tex sole like many of the Samuel Hubbard styles. Those section of the trail is potentially covered in standing water and thick mud. The hike can get extremely messy but have more interesting views and breathtaking photography spots.
Enjoy the river
The majority of the park is inaccessible by foot and can only be seen by canoe or kayaking along the rivers. It is quite an adventure and the perfect opportunity to relax in deep nature. If canoeing is your thing, a trip down the Cedar Creek is the perfect activity for you. It is a 15-mile route that starts at the Bannister's Bridge and ends at the Congaree River. Along the creek, you have the chance to spot an abundance of wildlife including armadillos, turtles, river otters, snake, birds, and alligators.
The National Park offers limited ranger-guided canoe tours throughout the year. If you do not feel comfortable enough to do it alone, maybe this is the perfect way to keep exploring this beautiful national park. For this, you will need to make an online reservation and it is defiantly worth planning your trip to Congaree around the available dates.