Go primeval on your next adventure. Ancient, towering trees, winding canoe trails, and the largest historical hardwood reserve in the southeastern US awaits.
Destination: Congaree National Park!
How does a visit to one of the most expansive, diverse biosphere reserves in the US sound?
RV camping near Congaree National Park has all you’d need for an exhilarating wilderness adventure: hiking, canoe and kayak trails, a plethora of local wildlife, and one of the highest deciduous forest canopies in the world.
Read on to discover how to reap all that Congaree National Park RV camping has to offer!
Congaree National Park Facts
Congaree National Park has a fascinating history that can fuel your appreciation for this wondrous destination. Check out these Congaree National Park facts to learn more about its origins and all the sights you’re sure to enjoy!
The park has a total area of 26,276 acres.
The Santee River Logging Company began logging in the area around 1989. By 1910, they stopped operations because of the inaccessible terrain. As early as 1960, a campaign to protect the park began.
Up until 2003, the park was misleadingly named Congaree National Swamp since it resides on the floodplains.
Congaree National Park is one of the highest density areas of champion trees, with trees as high as 167 feet!
Congaree is home to various animal species, including bobcats, feral hogs, armadillos, alligators, coyotes, catfish and more!
Photo Credit: Instagram User @kanecandrade
Best Congaree National Park RV Parks and Campgrounds
Now that you’re armed with a little knowledge of what makes RV camping in Congaree National park so special, let’s check out some of the RV parks. Read on for the perfect spot to call home!
River Bottom Farms Family Campground
Amenities: Enjoy 43 acres of kid and pet-friendly campground with plenty of perks! River Bottom Farms is home to a swimming pool, kids arcade and play area, and four on-site catch and release fishing ponds. You can also take a walk to the nearby Sleepy Creek or North Edisto River to keep what you want! If you do, you’ll need a fishing license to get in on the action.
The bathhouse, general store and dump station make this park an attractive option if convenience is your top priority in the RV parks near Congaree National Park.
Capacity: There are 70 RV sites; 25 are pull-through sites, and 52 of those are full hookups.
More information: River Bottom Farms Family Campground
Barnyard RV Park
Amenities: When it comes to RV parks near Congaree National Park, few can match the hospitality and small-town comforts of Barnyard RV Park. On weekends, have fun perusing their massive flea market. All sites include free WiFi, cable, and convenient air-conditioned bath and laundry facilities on the grounds.
The best part? Barnyard RV Park is a short ride to downtown Lexington/Columbia. The area promises museums, plays, a sports arena, zoo and convention center.
Capacity: There are 129 long pull-through sites. All pull-through sites have full hookup, water and sewage disposal.
More information: Barnyard RV Park
Amenities: Get some much-needed solace after a long day of adventure in the gentle silence of Magnolia Campground. Their secluded, quiet and affordable RV sites are conveniently located two minutes away from the I-77. But, visitors report no traffic sounds to disturb your Congaree National Park RV rental.
This small, family-owned park offers full hookup service, including water, sewage and electric.
Capacity: There are 12 RV sites.
More information: Magnolia Campground
Santee / Santee Lakes KOA
Amenities: How about a Congaree National Park RV rental site with a built-in vista? Pull up next to Lake Marion and sleep in peace to the setting sun in this scenic KOA campground!
The grounds feature a community firepit to mingle with fellow visitors, friendly games of cornhole or minigolf, a pool (open from 5/15 to 10/15), fishing and a dog park for your furry pals. Take a walk down to the private beach on the grounds or enjoy fishing right off the docks therein.
This is a rural location, so cable is not available. But, all sites come with a WiFi connection for your RV.
All the amenities and great scenery make Santee / Santee Lakes KOA one of our top picks among RV campgrounds in Congaree National Park.
Capacity: There are 120 pull-through RV sites. Also, there are up to 50 amp hookups available at all sites. Size limits for RVs: Reservations are required for sites over 65 feet. The max RV site available is 85 feet.
More information: Santee/ Santee Lake KOA
Palmetto Shores RV Resort
Amenities: Palmetto Shores RV Resort is one more option for a waterfront view on Lake Marion. A pool, lazy river, fishing pond and boat dock ensure a pleasant stay with lots to do. This is a popular alternative to Santee among the RV campgrounds in Congaree National Park.
Early booking is highly recommended!
Each site is nestled in natural shade for a comfortable stay. Enjoy the grill, picnic table and firepit included with each spot for a BBQ dinner finished off with toasty s’mores. It’s the perfect way to take in the picturesque views after a long day.
Capacity: There are 114 sites—nearly all are pull-throughs, but ask when you book. All sites have full hookups available.
More information: palmettoshoresrvresort.com
Best Time to Visit Congaree National Park for RV Camping
Congaree National Park is open in all four seasons. But, the park’s periods of frequent flooding and inclement weather patterns could guide your travel plan. Read on to see the best time to visit Congaree National Park!
Winter can offer the lowest crowd density for a secluded trip with a few unique perks.
Winter is the high season for flooding in Congaree. Floods can occur with or without rain since precipitation anywhere in upstate South Carolina may affect the park's water levels.
Make sure to bundle up with warm clothes and pack water-resistant footwear if you travel in winter. Temperatures hover around the mid-50s in the day and often go below freezing at night. Feel free to explore the backcountry during the winter at Congaree, but make sure you stay warm!
Spring boasts the most comfortable temperatures, which stay in the mid-70s on average. Insects are generally not a big problem, but it never hurts to pack bug spray.
Comfortable temperatures make springtime in Congaree a great time to go hiking. You may hit the odd rain or thunderstorm, but the average monthly rainfall is a moderate three inches.
Head to Congaree in late October through early November for beautiful autumn foliage. The winds are cool and crisp, with low humidity at temperatures similar to spring.
Water levels are just right in autumn. This is the best time to visit Congaree National Park if you’re interested in hitting the kayak or canoe trails.
It's no surprise that summer has the year's hottest temperatures at an average of the mid-90s.
A summer visit could be one way to avoid a crowd. However, the unpredictable weather during summer in Congaree can rain on your parade—literally! Rainfall, humidity and insect levels all run high. Thunderstorms appear frequently and sometimes with little warning. Nevertheless, summer is a fun time for the family to explore what Congaree’s Biosphere Reserve offers.
Photo Credit: Instagram User @kauailife
Things to do in Congaree National Park
Now that your calendar is marked for the best time to visit Congaree, it’s time to fill your itinerary. Keep reading to learn about things to do in Congaree National Park.
Connect with the wilderness overnighting in the backcountry. Ready for one of the wildest things to do in Congaree National Park? Congaree has an expansive backcountry reachable by foot or canoe/kayak. Camp anywhere and everywhere for the ultimate sense of freedom and oneness with nature. Just remember to stay safe! Keep your camp 100 feet away from any body of water to avoid sudden floods. Apply for a free backcountry camping permit 48 hours before your trip.
Hike scenic trails. Lakes, rivers and massive old-growth trees are scattered along the Congaree’s many trails. Most of these begin at the Harry Hampton Visitor’s Center. The trails are mostly flat since the park is a sprawling floodplain. Don’t miss out on one of the loops that pass through the old-growth forest during your Congaree National Park RV camping adventure. These are home to the park’s massive, majestic, champion trees. Try the Board Loop Trail (easy) or the Oakridge Trail #4 (difficult) to spot them.
Observe wildlife and old-growth on a canoe or kayak. What better way to spot local fauna than lazily floating down one of the park’s 15 mile+ water trails? Drift under a canopy of bald cypress and hanging moss for a tranquil way to enjoy nature. Trips can span as short as a few hours to as long as a three-day voyage, so plan accordingly.
Fish anywhere within the park. Just be sure to apply for a South Carolina fishing license beforehand. Catch and release is encouraged, and you must fish 25 feet away from any human-made structure. Please be respectful of the local ecosystem and fish responsibly!
Camp in one of two traditional campground sites. Enjoy a walk-up campsite in the range of the visitor center for easy access to water and bathrooms. Set up a tent for a night in the wilderness without the risks of a trip to the backcountry. Large group sites mean it’s a great choice for families too.
Tips on Visiting Congaree National Park
You’re just about ready for the adventure of a lifetime in the splendor of Congaree National Park! Please do remember the following tips to make sure you have a safe and fun-filled journey.
Don’t forget your free permit for backcountry camping. You’re not permitted to stay without one. It’s recommended to apply 48 hours before your trip.
No open fires allowed in the backcountry. But, they are permitted in the Longleaf and Bluff campgrounds.
Carry a map and plan your routes carefully. Cell phone service in the park is unreliable. Tell a close friend about your plans and the expected timeline. They can contact a park ranger in case of an emergency.
If you get lost, stay calm and call 911 and try not to wander—you could get even more lost.
Check the weather before your trip. Flooding can strike without warning!
Photo Credit: Instagram User @jordanbanksphoto
RV Rental for Congaree National Park
Well, friend, you’re loaded up with all the wisdom we’ve got for one incredible trip.
Still need an RV? Cruise America’s got you covered!
Check out our line of RV rentals that all come with A/C, a freshwater toilet, shower, refrigerator, microwave and gas top stove.
Book a Congaree National Park RV rental with Cruise America for the perfect start to an amazing adventure!