Located in central South Carolina, Congaree is the smallest National Park in the continental US. But what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for with uniqueness and charm. Swamp-like, this park is a floodplain forest that floods just a few times a year and contains some of the tallest bottomland hardwoods in the country. We experienced the park by walking its 2.5 mile boardwalk through a canopy of trees that rise higher than those of the Amazon rain-forest.
Our stroll was extremely peaceful. The forest is largely silent, except for occasional bird cries, squirrel chirps, tap-tapping of woodpeckers, and rustling of leaves as they fall to the ground. The beautiful Loblolly pines, bald cypress, and water ashes surrounded us in all directions, with clinging vines crawling-up and around them, and the strange cypress tree “knees” (pictured below) poking up from the ground.
We would recommend to those visiting this park to take your time and pay attention to the little things around you, this is when you will discover all of the life who call this park home. Strange looking caterpillars, butterflies, squirrels and spiders were just a few examples of what we saw. The creatures that offered us the most delight were the hard-to-spot chameleons, one of which changed color right before our eyes, and curiously interacted with Wm.
The boardwalk passed Weston Lake. While Lisa was disappointed we didn’t spot the sole alligator rumored to live here (Wm was NOT!), the turtles, fish, and beautiful reflections of the lake made-up for it. Our day at Congaree was highly enjoyable and offered sights unlike anything we’ve seen at the ~35 other parks visited this year. If you’re in the area, please be sure to visit this wonderful Park!