December 01 2014
Written By
Paul Jaworski
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The Great 59 - Part 12: Congaree National Park

The Great 58 is a series on America’s National Park Service.

Congaree National Park

State: South Carolina

Created: November 10th, 2003

Size: 26,546 Acres

Congaree National Park contains the largest expanse of old-growth forest in the United States. In order for a forest to be considered “old-growth” it must attain an old age without any outside or unnatural disturbances affecting it. There aren’t a lot of old-growth forests left in North America, so it’s safe to say that Congaree is the place to go if you want to experience primitive beauty.

Initially, Congaree National Park was called “Congaree Swamp National Monument” and it barely received any visitors. Once the s-word was taken out of the name and the area was given National Park status, the amount of monthly visitors increased dramatically. Apparently, people don’t find the word “swamp” attractive. Who would’ve thought?


What To Do:

Hike - If you don’t know by now, you can hike in pretty much every National Park on our list. In Congaree, you can hike the boardwalk loop to get to acquainted with the park, or you can try out the King Snake Trail.

Canoe - Due to its close proximity to the Congaree River, the park actually floods about ten times a year, making it an ideal place to canoe. Even when the park isn’t flooded, there is still a large amount of sitting water and most people would agree that this is the best way to see the park.

Owl Prowl - During the spring and fall months visitors can go on ranger-lead Owl Prowls. These are done at night, so the owls may be hard to see, but they can be heard and it’s an eerie nighttime experience.

Places Of Interest:

The King Snake Trail - This is best hike in the park. The King Snake runs for 11.2 miles and explores the more remote parts of the Congaree wilderness. This is hands down the best trail for wildlife watching. You can expect to see a nice range of wildlife here. Birds, bobcats, possums, raccoons, and deer all call this place home.

Cedar Creek - Reserve a canoe with the park, hop in, and paddle through the creek. You’ll be able to see some of the tallest trees on the east coast, snakes, and even those cute river otters we all love so much.

Weston Lake - Weston Lake is a great place to relax and take it all in. You can view the lake from the boardwalk or you can take the trail that circumnavigates the lake.


The park is open all year long, with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. We’d recommend going in the fall or spring so you can participate in the Owl Prowls and experience the best weather during your visit. All Images via TOTE

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