Congaree National Park near Columbia, South Carolina is one of the newest of the 59 US National Parks (The only newer ones are Pinnacles and Great Sand Dunes). The park has two campgrounds with only 20 campsites (including group camping) between the two. The first campground, Longleaf Campground, is located maybe half a mile past the park entrance. Here you can park in a gravel parking lot and have a short walk between 10-50 feet to your site depending on which one you choose. This campground does not have running water (But you can get water from the nearby visitor center 24/7), and vault toilets. Each site also has a picnic table and a fire ring. There are plenty of fallen tree limbs in the area to make a nice fire too! This campground rarely fills up but the sites are so few and close together that even if half the campground is full you will no doubt have close by neighbors. The Longleaf Campground will run you $10.
Our fire at the Longleaf Campground
The second campground, the Bluff Campground, is located in the park’s wilderness and can only be reached by a 1 mile hike from the Longleaf Campground or the Visitors Center. Here there are six campsites spread out on the edges of a large grassy circle in the forest.
Each site has a fire ring and a picnic table but once again no running water and this time not even a vault toilet! There is a trail that circles the campground and if you walk along that picking up all the sticks you see then you will have more than enough fuel for your fire!
Despite sacrificing the convenience of a toilet and a nearby vehicle here you only have to pay $5 for your stay and will most likely be alone. Of the two I prefer the Bluff Campground due to its remoteness compared to the Longleaf. Both are very nice though and either one you choose I am sure you will be happy with it. Just be sure to bring bug spray if you are visiting in the summertime.
Our tent at the Bluff Campground
Pictures from the hike to the Bluff Campground
Thanks! – Josh