Maps of USA
Central part of state, Richland County. Closest town: Columbia. From the city of Columbia, or Interstate 77 just south of town, take Route 48 (Bluff Road) south. You will see signs on Route 48 directing you to the park, which is nineteen miles from Columbia and about fifteen miles from I-77 (exit 5).
Where İs South Carolina? South Carolina Map Location Photo Gallery
There are two primitive camping areas in the park and many nice hotels in Columbia. The visitor center is open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The first section of the trail is a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk. If the weather has been very rainy for very long, call ahead to check on conditions: (803) 776-4396.
Chance of rain: 100 percent. It had been the driest summer on record in the eastern United States. In forest after forest, I had been greeted by cheerful blue skies, and I felt lucky. But as the months went by with no soaking rains, even the trees seemed a bit tired of perfect weather. Some leaves couldn’t hold on they turned brown and fell before they had a chance to feel autumn’s cool air. By the end of October, I was no longer hoping for clear skies. I was hoping for rain. On the day I visited Congaree I was not disappointed.
I pulled into the parking area very early in the morning as a gentle, pittering rain was starting. I was prepared with head-to-toe rain gear: jacket, pants, and waterproof boots. I pulled it all on in the drizzle and headed for the trail. But after only a few steps I turned and went back to the car not to avoid the rain, but because I wanted to hear the rain. I wanted to experience the forest with all my senses, and my hood was interfering. I grabbed an old umbrella out of the trunk.
Maps of cities and regions of USA
Setting out again with my umbrella overhead, I started down the sturdy boardwalk that began just steps from the parking lot at the visitor center. Being first on the trail, the early morning drizzle, and the tall, tall trees all put a happy spring in my step. Wet leaves of all kinds were flattened on the boardwalk, and as I walked I recognized old friends. If I had dropped through a wormhole to this spot, I would have known I was in the South. Here were my friends the sweet gum and sassafras, and oaks of all kinds: the sharp narrow leaves of the southern red oaks contrasted with the wide scalloped edges of the swamp chestnut oaks. Of course, there were beech and black gum, too.
My list could go on and on and on there were more than seventy different species here and what I loved was how they shared the space with each other. The bald cypress were up to seven hundred years old. The only evergreens were the giant, widely spaced southern pines, the loblolly pines. These few loblollies came from very lucky seeds that happened to land on a small piece of sunny forest floor and then held their ground for centuries. Some of the loblollies are more than two hundred years old, and they are proudly holding their own among the oaks, maples, and hickories.
South Carolina Cities, Counties & Area Codes
South Carolina Tourist Attractions
South Carolina Map