I loved Congaree National Park. I may have even put it in my top five. (Update 2020: It’s not in my top five, but I do like it.) That’s a tough list to make, but I think it’s up there. I loved seeing all the bugs and other critters. I love the cypress trees with their knobby knees. I loved the boardwalk trail. All of it! We only spent a few hours there on our way up to Asheville, but it was an awesome few hours and I’d love to go back.
As always we stopped in the visitor center before hitting the trail to pick up postcards, a patch, and park maps. We didn’t really have a plan or destination. We just wanted to see the cypress trees and well, I’m not even sure what else. I didn’t know much about the park, as usual, but I was excited anyway.
Fun Congaree fact: It is one of the least visited national parks in the US
We set off on the boardwalk trail with no real plan. I was immediately enamored with all the trees and the bugs we kept seeing. I loved seeing the spiders up close, which seemed weird to me. I like them outside, but inside I won’t have it. I also got surprisingly close to them, which is even weirder.
We found a golden huntsman in our room this summer and I actually screamed when I saw it. Granted, it was like, eight inches from my face when I turned around, but still. I was not about that. I loved seeing them outside though. It helps that none of them were moving.
We followed the boardwalk for a bit making periodic, and by periodic, I mean frequent, stops to take pictures and admire more bugs. Eventually, we came to a crossroads with a regular trail and decided to follow that for a bit. It wasn’t as fun but was still really pretty. When we came back to another section of the boardwalk we hopped back on and kept going.
Fun Congaree fact: The park floods about ten times a year.
After a while, we came to a little overlook at Weston Lake. I did more admiring of the turtles below and the spider next to me than the actual view. I enjoyed the view, but I liked being in the trees more. A family got to the overlook shortly after and pointed out the turtles. One of the kids was sitting on the railing and almost stuck his hand through the spiderweb, so I tried to point it out to him or whoever and not one of them acknowledged me. I don’t think they did at all there. They probably couldn’t even see me right next to them. They weren’t very friendly.
After that we continued along the boardwalk, this time stopping for a praying mantis on the railing. I was very excited to see this since I’ve only seen one other. I took advantage of this and took a lot of pictures. We were able to get surprisingly close, but I was a little nervous. I was just waiting for it to fly into my face.
Fun Congaree fact: There is a marked canoe trail winding 15 miles through the Congaree wilderness.
After our praying mantis pit stop, we continued on to the fork back to the visitors center or we could keep going a little way to part of the boardwalk we didn’t see yet. We kept going and it was a wonderful little area with tons of cypress trees and knobby knees. This little section just solidified how much I liked the park and its place in my top parks. It’s an awesome little gem of a park in the southeast US and definitely worth a side trip if you’re in the area.
Tips for visiting Congaree National Park:
- There are 9 trails in the park including the boardwalk loop.
- The park doesn’t rent out canoes or kayaks. You’ll have to get them outside of the park.
- They do offer ranger-guided canoe trips though and they provide the canoes for that.
- There is no park entrance fee.
- Definitely bring bug spray, especially in the summer.
- The weather was perfect mid-October. Bring layers so you don’t get too cold, but can easily warm up.
- Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife and bugs along the boardwalk.
Have you been to Congaree? Did you like it? What’s your favorite thing to do there? Do you want to go?