Congaree National Park   2 comments

Congaree NP 00Where Is It: 25 miles southeast of Columbia, SC. 236 miles east of Atlanta.

The Birth: From the National Park website:

In 1969 relatively high timber prices prompted private landowners to consider resuming logging operations. As a result of an effective “grass roots” campaign launched by the Sierra Club and many local individuals, Congress established Congaree Swamp National Monument in 1976. That designation was not enough to protect the area from the force of Hurricane Hugo in September 1989. The park lost several National Champion trees, but the overall effect was a natural stimulus to growth. Hugo snapped tree tops, thereby allowing sunlight to come through the canopy, promoting new growth beneath. Fallen trees have provided shelter for many species of organisms; standing dead trees became new homes for a variety of plant and animal species, including fungi, insects, reptiles, birds, and bats.

On June 30, 1983 Congaree Swamp National Monument was designated an International Biosphere Reserve. In July of 2001 it was designated a Globally Important Bird Area, and on November 10, 2003 it was designated as the nation’s 57th National Park.

It Happened Here: Logging tried to happen in the early 20th century, but it proved to be commercially unprofitable due to the swampiness of the land. Heavy equipment couldn’t be used. Only trees close to the waterways could be cut, with the hope of using the waterways to float the logs out of the area. Unfortunately, due to the damp conditions, the green logs would not float. After a few years, operations were abandoned as unproductive, leaving the floodplain basically untouched.

Size: 26,546 acres

Visitors: 109,685 in 2012. May was most attended; December was least.

Plants: 75 species of trees are found in Congaree National Park. It is the largest intact tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southestern United States.

Animals: The Park is entirely forested, but more than 170 bird species have been found in the park. Large animals that have been seen in the park are bobcats, deer, pigs, dogs, coyotes, armadillos and turkeys. The Park waters contain many types of fish, including bowfin, largemouth bass, panfish and catfish.

Choices: The Low and High Boardwalk Trails (2.4 miles total) are the best places to start for most visitors. After that, do the Weston Lake Loop Trail (4.4 miles) around the Oxbow Lake. If your are looking for birds, do the 11.7-mile Kingsnake Trail.

Fees: Congaree National Park does not charge entrance or tour fees.

Staying There: In 2012, the Park banned “car camping” … meaning you can’t sleep in your car. There are a few “walk-in” sites, where you have to walk to a site to pitch your tent.

Contact Info:

100 National Park Road
Hopkins, SC 29061-9118

Current Issues: The Park, perhaps still suffering its time as a National Monument when it was known as a Swamp … is considering charging for its services for the first time. The suggested fees are $10 for individual tent sites at the Bluff Campground, $15 for individual tent sites and $25 for group tent sites at the Longleaf Campground, $40 for picnic pavilion rental and $25 for guided canoe trips. Renting a canoe at local outfitters usually costs about $40 a day. Guided tours on Cedar Creek cost around $60 per person.

Don’t Miss This: Reservations for the free guided canoe trips on Cedar Creek can now be booked up to several months in advance. Visitors with flexible plans now stand a much better chance of locking in seats for the popular weekend trips.


National Park Service: Congaree National Park

National Parks Traveler: Birding….

The State: National Park Considering First Fees….

Travels With Minis: Congaree National Park

Kat’s Corner: Congaree National Park

The Life Of Your Time: Random Insect: Six-spotted Tiger Beetle

National Park Foundation: QTPrincess2785 video

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