100 National Park Road
Hopkins, SC 29061-9118
Established as a national park in 2003, Congaree is a primal forest on the river of the same name. The park is situated about 20 miles southeast of Columbia Airport in central South Carolina and contains some of the tallest trees in the eastern United States. Park visitors can follow a canoe trail down Cedar Creek, the preferred exploration method in Congaree. However, travelers should be aware that they must bring their own canoe or kayak, as the park does not rent or provide them.
Entrance fees: Admission is free.
Visitor center: Harry Hampton Visitor Center is open daily, except on December 25.
Other services: A ranger station
- After Hours Campsite. Open year-round. A free camping permit must be obtained from the Harry Hampton Visitor Center.
- Bluff Campsite. Open year-round. A free camping permit must be obtained from the Harry Hampton Visitor Center.
- Backcountry camping is also available.
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Congaree National Park contains the largest contiguous tract of old-growth floodplain hardwood forest in the United States. Because of the diversity life -- hundreds of species of plants and animals -- supported by the Congaree ecosystem, the park is designated an International Biosphere Reserve. Keen observers may note river otters and box turtles paddling in the creek, or catch a glimpse of a red-headed woodpecker foraging for food. Other common sightings include the white-tailed deer, skinks, and brown water snakes.
The 75 species of trees that grow in the bottomland forests of Congaree National Park provide a life-sustaining habitat for all kinds of mammals, fish, reptiles, and birds. Continue to the next page to learn about wildlife you can see at the park.