Situated along the meandering Congaree River in central South Carolina, Congaree National Park is home to champion trees, primeval forest landscapes, and diverse plant and animal life. This 22,200-acre park protects the largest contiguous tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the United States. Known for its giant hardwoods and towering pines, the parks floodplain forest includes one of the highest canopies in the world and some of the tallest trees in the eastern United States.
Astonishing biodiversity exists in Congaree National Park, the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern United States. Waters from the Congaree and Wateree Rivers sweep through the floodplain, carrying nutrients and sediments that nourish and rejuvenate this ecosystem and support the growth of national and state champion trees.
Congaree National Park provides a sanctuary for plants and animals, a research site for scientists, and a place for you to walk and relax in a tranquil wilderness setting.
There is so much to do at Congaree National Park! Canoeing, hiking, fishing, camping are just some of your many options.
The primary significance of Congaree National Park is demonstrated through its unique bottomland hardwood forest communities, the overall height of the forest canopy and associated number of national and state champion trees, as well as the presence of a well-preserved, biologically diverse, and dynamic river floodplain ecosystem.
Waters from the adjacent Congaree and Wateree Rivers periodically sweep through the Park’s floodplain, carrying nutrients and sediments that nourish and rejuvenate this unique ecosystem. Forested wetlands, oxbow lakes, slow moving creeks and sloughs provide ample habitat for fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, insects and other aquatic life. A variety of forest communities are also represented across the landscape, with dominant tree species ranging from upland pines along the elevated bluffs to bottomland species such as bald cypress and water tupelo within the floodplain.
Until the latter half of the 1800s, there were more than 52 million acres of floodplain forests across the southeastern United States. In the area of what is now Congaree National Park, energized citizens like Harry Hampton began a successful campaign to protect their local lands from timber harvesting and exploitation in the 1960s. The enabling legislation that established Congaree National Park on October 18, 1976 (Public Law 94-545) specifically states the purpose of the park is "to preserve and protect for the education, inspiration, and enjoyment of present and future generations an outstanding example of a near-virgin, southern hardwood forest situated in the Congaree River floodplain in Richland County, South Carolina." Today, Congaree National Park encompasses nearly 27,000 acres, including the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern United States.