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Review: Congaree National Park

You'll find astonishing biodiversity in this national park about a 30-minute drive from downtown Columbia.
United States, South Carolina, Columbia, Congaree National Park


United States, South Carolina, Columbia, Congaree National ParkUnited States, North Carolina, Charlotte, Congaree National ParkUnited States, North Carolina, Charlotte, Congaree National Park


So, can you tell us a little bit about this place?
You'll find astonishing biodiversity at Congaree National Park, about a 30-minute drive southeast of the city, the largest remaining expanse of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in the southeastern United States. Waters from the Congaree and the Wateree Rivers sweep through the floodplain, carrying nutrients and sediments that nourish and rejuvenate this ecosystem. You can explore it on foot or on the water; if you prefer the latter, BYO canoe or rent one in the city and ride the currents down to Congaree.(There are no rentals in the park, and motorized vehicles and watercraft are prohibited.) Any standout features or must-sees?
One of the most significant things about this wild land is the canopy height and old growth trees, including the cypress whose "wet feet" edge the riverbanks. Forested wetlands, oxbow lakes, slow-moving creeks, and sloughs provide a habitat for fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and other aquatic life, so be prepared for mosquitoes and other insects. Is it easy to get around?
This is a national park with ample signage and well-marked trails, but the simplest way to get started is the the boardwalk loop trail that provides access to Weston Lake. Ranger and volunteer guided programs are held on Saturdays year-round. Otherwise, the park is challenging for wheelchair users or anyone with mobility issues. How much time should we plan to spend here?
It doesn't take too long to get here, making this national park an easy choice for an afternoon activity. Columbia locals often pop in for a quick hike; there are more than 25 miles of hiking trails and 2.4 miles of boardwalk.
More activities nearby
Columbia Museum of Art
The heart of Columbia's artistic community, this museum houses art spanning 5,000 years of global history in 26 galleries.
Historic Columbia Gardens
The must-see garden of the three is the Seibels House garden, often mentioned in 19th- and 20th-century travelogues and articles
Sullivan's Island
Though it's pretty quiet in the off-season, Sullivan’s Island—once home to Edgar Allan Poe—is a hive of activity come spring and summer.
Bulls Island
You'll feel as though you're totally adrift on Bulls Island, as opposed to just a few miles off the coast of prim Charleston.