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From Massive Trees to Boardwalks Over Marshland: Is Congaree National Park Worth It?

When examining the 63 unique national parks, Congaree often ends up low on the rankings, thanks to low visitation numbers and bad reviews from visitors to its marshy landscape. However, many people simply miss what makes the South Carolina national park special.

Here’s what makes Congaree National Park worth it.

Enjoy a Stroll on the Boardwalk Trail

congaree national park worth it
(Source: Leslie Cross)

There are plenty of different hikes for visitors of all abilities, but the most essential hike is the Boardwalk Loop Trail.  The 2.6 mile trail brings visitors into the old-growth bottomland hardwood forest, which is the largest of its kind in the U.S. Along the way, visitors will see cypresses and other trees that make up a massive canopy in the park. The Boardwalk Trail has benches along it, that allow visitors to stop and soak in all the arboral beauty.

Don’t Miss Out on Exploring Congaree National Park by Boat

Given its vast wetlands, it’s hard to completely experience this park just on foot. Renting a canoe or kayak lets you dive in deeper. Guided tours will bring guests to see some of the tallest trees on the East Coast. Many areas of the park are swampland, and the trees and creeks make up an almost maze-like passage through the area. Having a guide helps visitors avoid getting lost, but visitors can bring their own boats to the park for a self-guided adventure.

Check Out All the Wildlife

visiting congaree
(Source: Bob Brewer)

The abundance of water brings Congaree to life. The two rivers flowing through the park often flood and make great habitats for fish, amphibians, and birds that take advantage of the water, like ibis, pipers, and egrets. The warm climate also allows for alligators. As far as mammals, visitors can spot otters, foxes, deer, and bobcats.

Synchronous Fireflies Makes Congaree National Park Worth It

firefly in congaree
(Source: Tony Phan)

An almost out-of-world experience at this national park can be found in late spring when a flood or fireflies fill the park. In places like the Firefly Trail, visitors can see these tiny winged bugs light up synchronously, putting on a dazing display of lights. The phenomenon has led to additional research in the park to understand why these bugs even do this in the first place.

It’s a Great Winter Time Visit

congaree np south carolina
(Source: NPS)

While many national parks have a slow season outside of the summer, Congaree is a perfect fall through spring visit. The mild climate of South Carolina is an excellent escape from snow-covered states and those looking for some winter relief. The cooler weather allows visitors to avoid the humidity and deal with fewer mosquitoes. 

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