South Carolina Scenic Drive: Savannah River Scenic Byway

Outdoor excitement and historic adventures await you on the Savannah River Scenic Byway. Running along the western edge of South Carolina, the byway is a beautiful country drive through the dense wooded Hickory Knob State Resort Park and Sumter National Forest, quaint towns such as McCormick and Willington, and past rolling farmland dotted with historic churches. The J. Strom Thurmond Dam and Lake and the Savannah River are both only seconds off the byway, providing camping, fishing, and other recreational opportunities that you will be able to enjoy with the whole family.

For antique hounds and history buffs, a small side trip off the byway will be well worth your time. Head to the town of Abbeville, just a few miles off the byway, to experience some great shopping, dining, and historic architecture.

The wide range of places to see and things to do makes this drive an ideal vacation for every kind of traveler.

Cultural Qualities of the Savannah River Scenic Byway

The Savannah River Scenic Byway is the primary touring route within the upper regions of the South Carolina Heritage Corridor. As a key segment of the Heritage Corridor's "Nature Route," the scenic highway serves both as a touring route and as the major north/south pathway for visitors to the area.

Examples of this region's unique cultural traditions include basket making and shape-note singing. Numerous places along the route also offer cuisine that is unique to the region.

The visual character of the present-day landscape was shaped by many different cultural and economic influences. These influences include the early cotton-dependent economy, the introduction of the railroads, the creation of the lakes, and more recently, the completion of I-85 and the development of Savannah Lakes Village.

This corridor tells the vibrant story of South Carolina's (and the South's) evolution and culture. Visitors will learn of rice and indigo, pirates and patriots, slaves and freemen, cotton fields and mill villages, swamps and waterfalls, railroads and back roads, soul food and "pig-pickin's," and spirituals and bluegrass. Locations of natural beauty, recreational opportunities, military history, local arts and crafts, agricultural traditions, and the state's rich African-American heritage are identified and interpreted along the way.

Historical Qualities of the Savannah River Scenic Byway

The Savannah River Scenic Byway winds more than 100 miles along the shores of three major lakes and through four counties. In the 18th century, this was the western frontier, and it was bustling with soldiers, American Indian traders, and adventurers when South Carolina's first battle of the Revolution erupted here.

Abbeville is a historically significant town along the byway. This town was so actively involved in events relating to the Civil War that it claims the title "Birthplace and Deathbed of the Confederacy." On November 22, 1860, Secession Hill was the site of the first public meeting organized to consider seceding from the Union. On May 2, 1865, at the Burt-Stark Mansion, Jefferson Davis met for the last time with his Council of War and agreed to disband his Confederate troops.

Edgefield is home to the Old Edgefield Pottery where a resident potter still makes alkaline-glazed stoneware in the Old Edgefield tradition. Antebellum homes, such as Oakley Park and Magnolia Dale, are open for tours. Nearby Johnston, with its Victorian architecture and antique shops, has designated itself "the Peach Capital of the World."

Recreational Qualities of the Savannah River Scenic Byway

The Savannah River Scenic Byway serves as a major recreational gateway to the freshwater coast. It includes more than 2,700 miles of shoreline along lakes Hartwell, Russell, and Thurmond. The scenic highway provides access to 59 recreation areas, including the developed recreational sites operated by the Corps of Engineers, SCPRT, and the U.S. Forest Service, as well as a few sites that are operated by local government.

View Enlarged Image Follow this map of the Savannah River Scenic Byway to explore quaint towns and rolling farmland. Discover the intrinsic charm of this southern byway.

In addition, the route connects to 104 recreational access sites that have boat ramps, campgrounds, welcome centers, or shoreline access points and other points of interest.

Some of the recreation areas accessible from the scenic highway include the five state parks associated with the freshwater coast. These parks are Sadlers Creek State Recreation Area, Calhoun Falls State Park, Hickory Knob State Resort Park, Baker Creek State Park, and Hamilton-Branch State Park.

Find more useful information related to South Carolina's Savannah River Scenic Byway:

  • South Carolina Scenic Drives: The Savannah River Scenic Byway is just one of the scenic byways in South Carolina. Check out the others.
  • Abbeville: Find out what there is to do in this richly historic town along the Savannah River Scenic Byway.
  • Scenic Drives: Are you interested in scenic drives beyond South Carolina? Here are more than 100 scenic drives throughout the United States.
  • How to Drive Economically: Fuel economy is a major concern when you're on a driving trip. Learn how to get better gas mileage.