National Park 43/59: Congaree National Park in South Carolina

National Park 43/59: Congaree National Park in South Carolina

We have always used travel to weddings as an excuse to explore a new area. And while we had a heap of weddings every year through 2008ish, there’s been a dearth since.

Until this year.

Our calendar includes more weddings this year than we’ve had in the last 4 years!

So, when we realized we would be traveling to South Carolina for a wedding this fall, we decided we needed to include a visit Congaree National Park.

Congaree started out as a National Monument in 1976 and received its upgrade in 2003. The park has both hiking and paddling, but we focused on the latter for this trip.

We hiked about 6 miles on the Boardwalk Loop, as well as the Weston Lake Trail, both of which weaved us through Congaree’s old-growth forest. Cool fact: Congaree has one of the largest and tallest tracts of bottomland deciduous forests in North America.

Another cool fact: the park is bounded by the Congaree and Wateree Rivers, putting it in a major floodplain. The park floods at least 10 times a year!

This is Weston Lake, which was formed thanks to the floods. 

I believe these are either yellow-bellied sliders or snapping turtles, but don’t quote me.

The variety and uniqueness of trees blew my mind. For example, the water-resistant bald cypress trees have a really cool adaptation for the floods. Their “knees” that rise up from the roots are thought to anchor the trees during the floods.

All in all, Congaree definitely gave us a new appreciation for the “Palmetto State.”

 These are the dwarf palmettos, relatives of the state tree, the cabbage palmettos.

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