South Carolina’s national parks promise both peaceful retreats in nature and engrossing history, from the sunken cypress forests of Congaree National Park to the intriguing Star Fort in Ninety Six National Historic Site. National Parks In South Carolina welcomes you with breathtaking hikes, interesting trails, and well-preserved glimpses into life in the 18th century. There’s no doubt that you’ll leave your visit with a deeper understanding of American history.
Congaree National Park is the most well-known and least-known national park in South Carolina. You can kayak along the charming river trails in this area, or you can stay on dry land and hike one of the many forest trails. The state’s past struggles during the American Revolution and Civil War are displayed at other National Park sites, such as Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park and the Reconstruction Era National Historical Park.
There is no better place than South Carolina’s National Parks if you want to follow in the footsteps of Loyalists, Patriots, Confederates, and Union soldiers and get a glimpse into the early years of the United States’ independence. Prepare to take a deep dive into South Carolina’s past by packing your bags, bringing an open mind, and plenty of curiosity. There isn’t a state like it anywhere else, really! Keep reading for the best 8 National Parks In South Carolina.
1. National Parks In South Carolina: Congaree National Park
If you haven’t heard of this undiscovered gem, you’re probably not the only one. Congaree is one of the ten least frequented national parks in the country, so there’s a good chance you’ll be all by yourself to take in its magnificent hardwood forests and serene river trails.
The Congaree and Wateree Rivers offer excellent opportunities for hiking, fishing, camping, and kayaking, but the area has long been inhabited. Native Americans were the first to settle the Congaree flood plains, and later, African Americans who were held as slaves used the area as a haven.
2. Charles Pinckney National Historic Site
If you want to get a comprehensive understanding of life in the late 1800s and early 1900s, you must pay a visit to the Charles Pinckney National Historic Site. In the years leading up to the Civil War, Charles Pinckney personally wrote and signed the U.S. Constitution and exercised considerable political influence.
Numerous artifacts and relics from his Snee Farm plantation, which housed numerous enslaved African Americans, can still be seen all over the National Historic Site today. The 25 acres (10 hectares) of the Charles Pinckney National Historic Site can be seen in about an hour or two, so you won’t need much time to experience it.
3. Parks In SC: National Historical Park at Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter
Southeast South Carolina’s Charleston Harbor is home to Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historic Site. The park is accessible throughout the year, and visitors can explore two old forts and stop by the park visitor centers.
Charleston, South Carolina, was a prosperous city with a significant port in the early 19th century. Rich cotton and rice plantation owners who employed slaves to harvest their crops were all over the city.
The American movement to outlaw slavery was gaining momentum at the time Abraham Lincoln was elected president. The first state to leave the Union in protest of “reserved rights of the States” was South Carolina.
4. Kings Mountain National Military Park
About 35 miles southwest of Charlotte, in north-central South Carolina, is the Kings Mountain NMP. The 1.5-mile self-guided walking trail, visitor center, and up-close view of the battle site are all featured in the park, which is open all year.
On October 7, 1780, the Kings Mountain battle took place. The Patriot forces won the conflict by defeating the Loyalists. The British General Lord Charles Cornwallis’s intention to move north was severely hampered by this defeat.
The British were defeated at Cowpens as a direct result of this battle. The victory at Kings Mountain, in Thomas Jefferson’s words, marked “the turn of the tide of success.”
5. National Parks In South Carolina: Ninety-six National Historic Site
Sixty miles west of Columbia, in west-central South Carolina, is where you’ll find Ninety Six National Park. The park is available year-round, and visitors can take a mile-long interpretive loop walk that passes the original star fort.
Due to the fact that frontier roads crossed here in the early 18th century, this area was home to a thriving town. The village of Keowee, a Cherokee settlement, was thought to be 96 miles away from the town, but this distance was incorrect.
The town expanded from a trading post to a bustling neighborhood with a courthouse, jail, and numerous stores. A battle was fought here in November 1775, at the start of the Revolutionary War.
6. National Parks In South Carolina: Cowpens National Battlefield
One of South Carolina’s national park service sites is this national battlefield site, which is located in Cherokee County not far from the North Carolina border. The battlefield site, which was established in 1929, has a total land area of 842 acres. This location honors where a significant American Revolutionary War battle took place. In the 1781 conflict known as the Battle of Cowpens, the troops under Brigadier General Daniel Morgan triumphed over those under British Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton.
The national battlefield site has a visitor center with a museum on site. There are displays about the history of the location during the American Revolutionary War inside the museum. There are also tours that take visitors on foot to the actual battlefield.
7. Lake Conestee Nature Park
When the Reedy River was dammed in the late 1890s, Lake Conestee was created. A local conservation organization worked to transform the lake into wetlands in the early 2000s. Today, the 400 acres of forest and wetlands that make up the Lake Conestee Nature Park are a well-liked recreation area.
The park is a popular destination for birdwatchers because it is home to a diverse range of plants and animals, including more than 200 species of birds. 12 miles of walking trails are also available, including 6 miles of paved trails and 1 mile of boardwalk.
8. Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site
The Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site, located on the Ashley River, is home to a wonderful collection of historical artifacts that depict the state’s colonial era.
There are still many things for visitors to see in the park, such as a church with a brick bell tower, wharves used for shipping logs, and a well-preserved fort made of tabby, an oyster-shell concrete. Archaeologists are still working to uncover some of the park’s structures. An interpretive trail that details the history of the site and its artifacts is also available in the park.