Congaree National Park Trails, Wildlife, and Why You Should Visit - Travel Squad Podcast

Congaree National Park Trails, Wildlife, and Why You Should Visit

In South Carolina, nestled in the floodplain forests you will find Congaree National Park with its trails, wildlife, and unique ecosystem that thrives on Hurricanes and the southern humidity it’s known for.

What can you do at Congaree National Park? 

There’s a lot to do here! Congaree National Park things to do include walking trails, exploring wildlife, seeing the fireflies, and immersing yourself in a serene, but entirely different world is what makes this palace special.

Congaree National Park trails are ideal for visitors that don’t like hiking! The most popular trail is a wood board plank walkway around the main interior of the park with multiple stops along a self-guided tour of the plains. The most incline you’ll get is a few feet when you sit and stand up from the many benches along the trail. For those that are looking for a little more adventure there are Congaree National Park hiking trails that go off the plank and into the floodplains. 

We wanted to do the 6.3 mile Oakridge Trail, but the very nice ranger onsite advised that some areas were still underwater from rains, so we were unable to do this one. We did, however do the 4.7 mile walking trail known as the Weston Lake Loop Trail and it did not disappoint!

Congaree National Park Wildlife

For those looking to see Congaree National park wildlife while visiting, you are in luck! When we visited we saw plenty of mosquitos so bring your bug spray (a joke, but in all seriousness the mosquitos weren’t bad, we didn’t get any bites!). On the Congaree National Park trails we also saw a tortoise rustling in the trees, SO many caterpillars, tons of turtles in the lakes, and best of all we saw the Congaree National Park alligators! Well, just one, but it was SO cool!

If you remember our episode on things to do in Miami where we talked about Everglades National Park then you know we did not see a single wild alligator on the boat tour when we visited in September. In Congaree we were standing on the deck overlooking Weston Lake and the turtles below us when we noticed what looked like a log in the distance. Once we saw that log moving, we quickly noticed it was an alligator! It swam closer to us and kept on swimming by. It was the coolest 20 minute wildlife encounter!

The most iconic wildlife that Congaree is known for are the Congaree National Park fireflies.There are two weeks in May or June each year that Congaree hosts visitors to see the fireflies. We did visit during this time, but we weren’t going to be near the park at night to see them so we missed it, but it is an epic experience if you are trying to see it. Check the Congaree NPS website for details on when it is and how to attend.

Interested in visiting Congaree National Park? You know we always provide the tips to help you visit and do it right!

  • Where is Congaree National Park located? Central South Carolina, just 18 miles from the capital of Columbia, SC or about a two hours drive from Charleston, making it a great day trip if you are taking a trip to Charleston!
  • What is the best time to visit Congaree National Park? We would highly recommend visiting during the cooler early spring months. Summer gets VERY hot and humid in South Carolina and in the fall you have hurricane season which could derail your visit.
  • How much does it cost to visit? It’s FREE year round! And it’s one of the least visited parks in America which means there are hardly any crowds on the trails.
  • How much time do I need in this park? A few hours should do if you’re doing one or two trails. If you want to see the fireflies, plan around that time of year and plan to visit during the day for the park, and at night for the fireflies.

We were pleasantly surprised by Congaree National parks trails, views, and wildlife, and you will be too! If you have any questions, you can always message us on Instagram to ask. We respond to everyone!

Congaree National Park Trails – Episode Transcript

1 (58s):
Welcome to this week’s episode of the Travel Squad Podcast. Today, we are taking you with us to Congaree national park located in South Carolina.

2 (1m 9s):
Congaree is amazing. It really is. And I know when you hear the south, you’re thinking swamps, you’re thinking mosquitoes, and you’re wondering why we are bringing this to you, but trust me, I thought those same things, and you will not regret visiting this national park. I promise you.

3 (1m 26s):
You definitely will not. And you are very right Congaree national park to some degree is a swamp, but it is a forested swamp. It’s located 18 miles Southeast of the state capital of South Carolina, Columbia and the park preserves the largest tract of old growth. Bottomland hardwood forest left in the United States. Now I know that sounds like a mouthful. And you’re like, what the hell is that? Well, old growth is basically like a term that’s used to describe pretty much like Virgin forest, like forest areas that are really been untouched by like humans and things like that. So there are a lot more natural in their state and the bottom line hardwood forest.

3 (2m 6s):
I forgot specifically what that means, but it is something talking about like forests that grow in flood Plains. And it’s so amazing when you’re out there because quite honestly, you know, when you go to national parks, lots of national parks are known for Wildlife, and I was not expecting to see the amount of Wildlife that we actually saw in Congaree on the short trail that we did. And in that amount of time, and these lush trees grow in this beautiful flood plain, and the forests here are known to be the tallest in the Eastern United States. So really, really big tall trees growing here in Congaree.

2 (2m 42s):
All right, we’re gonna tease you a little with the tips. First tip number one, tip probably the most important tip of the day here in Congaree is to wear bug spray mosquito repellent.

1 (2m 54s):
And don’t just put it on once. You’re gonna want like a base layer and then you’re gonna second year

3 (2m 60s):
There. Yeah. When we got out of the car, the first thing we did was apply bug spray on all of each other. And then once we started our hike and I shouldn’t even call it a hike, it’s a trail. Cause we’ll talk about exactly what it is that we did coming up here very shortly. Once we started hearing the bugs go around, we’re like, fuck this. We need to put on some more. And we put on some more now Brittanie and I walked away on scathed. Kim is telling us that you walked out with a few, so that kind of sucks. Maybe they liked you a little bit more.

2 (3m 27s):
Mosquitoes. Absolutely love me. And I did apply two times and I did get a ton of mosquito bites. I did not wear protective clothing. I was showing a lot of skin so that I kind of messed up there. When

1 (3m 38s):
You say a ton, like let’s estimate less than five, or

2 (3m 42s):
I would say 10, 12, 12. What the fuck? Yeah, I actually on the side of my arm, back of my arm, I had three in a row, 1, 2, 3.

3 (3m 51s):
And now are you sure you didn’t pick them up on our positive previous portions of Charleston or Savannah?

2 (3m 57s):
I’m positive? Cuz I also got mosquito bites in those two cities, but I had a lot more after Congaree. Like

1 (4m 3s):
Maybe I had one or two, but like I definitely didn’t get 12 in Congaree.

2 (4m 7s):
I did. And so if you are taking this trip and you’re continuing on, then go ahead and also pack the hydrocortisone just in case you do get bit, because that saved me from like scratching my body off.

1 (4m 18s):
You know, what I was doing that was working really well was mixing some hydrocortisone cream with Neosporin because I’m a big scratcher when things like itch. And so I mix both of those. I felt like it helped with the inflammation and had some antibacterial properties to help make sure that my look

2 (4m 34s):
At the traveling nurse over here get

3 (4m 36s):
Infected. And you know, the funny thing is we all wore stuff that put our skin to be exposed. I mean, we looked at the weather, we’re talking about being here in a swamp, it’s gonna be humid. It said it was supposed to be up to 90 degrees. I did not feel that at all. So we were just like, oh, we don’t really wanna like sweat out here. And it really isn’t true like bug season quite, quite yet. So, you know, Brittanie and I made it, Kim apparently had a little fiasco, but on the bug, this situation, it’s really funny. Like once you enter the park, like when you get to the boardwalk area and again, we’ll talk about that a little bit more. Once we get outta the tips here, they have that mosquito meter mosquito meter and then the ranger was telling us, obviously this is an exact science, well, no shit, but it’s still one of those unique things, the mosquito meter.

3 (5m 22s):
And they’ll tell you, like they’re barely out today. And it goes on a scale of one to six and six is like death and they didn’t adjust it for the day. But she said it was what about like a two that day two outta six.

1 (5m 32s):
That’s what she said. But she also said mosquitoes aren’t really attracted to her. So for her it might be a two, but for someone else that might be like a four. And I felt like for when we were on the trail, we kind of said we were ranging like four to five, but Kim, apparently you might have been a little,

2 (5m 47s):
I think I said six.

3 (5m 48s):
Yeah, but that four to five, keep outta mind we were putting it on a scale of 10. Not of there one to six. Yeah. But moving on from the bugs, next tip, teasing you guys a little bit here is this is an easy half day trip. So if you happen to be in Charleston or doing other stuff like in South Carolina, for that matter, whether it be, you know, Hilton head or Myrtle beach, obviously gonna be a little bit further of a drive or for whatever reason, if you’re in Columbia, which is the capital, which I don’t recommend doing as we drove through there experiencing that, but easy little half day trip for you. Definitely. Well worth it.

1 (6m 22s):
Another tip that we have for you guys is to make sure to download offline maps. You are kind of driving to the middle of South Carolina where there’s not a lot of other things around and you may lose service driving there. So make sure to download offline maps in advance.

2 (6m 37s):
And then if you’re wondering when to visit Congaree, we would recommend spring or fall. Those are gonna be your best times to visit for weather and for flooding,

3 (6m 45s):
Right? Cuz summer it could get up to like 110 degrees out there. It’s so odd, you know, a forested area. I mean, this is a real forest. Could get up to 110 degrees, but keep in mind, like I said, it’s forced in a swamp and as we get further into the episode, I mean, it lends to a very unique beauty, just kind of really seeing that swampy flood plain and actual trees. But during winter, again, talking flood Plains, it will actually flood. So you really can’t do much at that point because the elevated boardwalk and I guess we’ll talk about it now, cuz we’ve mentioned it a few times famous portion of the park from the parking lot. And the entrance is an elevated boardwalk that takes you through the forest above the swamp.

3 (7m 26s):
And so during the winter months, the floods and waters can be high enough to where you’re actually treking in the water on the boardwalk. So you don’t want to go in winter for summer because of the weather.

1 (7m 37s):
And in summer it’s very, very humid as well.

2 (7m 40s):
This area also gets hit with hurricanes. So hurricane season comes in later in that year, fall time. Usually it has a beautiful story that keeps the ecosystem of this park intact, but you don’t wanna be there during hurricane season.

1 (7m 53s):
So last tip that we have for you guys is to have a backup plan. If the hike that you’re wanting to do is closed or flooded, I actually wanted to do a longer trail than what we did and the reason why we didn’t do it was because a part of that area was a little muddy boggy. And so she said it could, you know, be a little wet

3 (8m 15s):
Hindrance to your

1 (8m 16s):
Experience. Yeah. So we decided not to do that trail. So have a backup

2 (8m 19s):
Plan. There was a portion of the trail where we’re going around the boardwalk and it comes to a turn. And so it’s like fenced off and we can’t go. We can see that there’s a pathway in the natural area, like carved out. But there’s a fence there Brittanie is about to hop the fence and go down the pathway. I’m like, Brittanie what the hell are you doing? Is like, you can’t go that way. She’s like, it’s an easy day.

1 (8m 44s):
Well, you know, I think I had downloaded maps from all Trails and the all Trails. One said, we could go that way. But you know, Kim was like, it looks like it’s kind of blocked for reason. I’m like, but is it? I ended up listening to them. They pulled me in. We

2 (8m 59s):
Were what you

1 (8m 60s):
Were right. You were right. Although I do think that was an old trail. Maybe just, I don’t

3 (9m 4s):
Know, you probably could have gone, but they put up the sign there for you to really not go well,

1 (9m 8s):
They didn’t

3 (9m 9s):
Have a sign. Well, they didn’t, but the way they had it up off the boardwalk was clearly

2 (9m 12s):
Like let’s let’s boarded fence.

3 (9m 14s):
Let’s

1 (9m 14s):
Not go, oh my, it wasn’t completely boarded. But beyond that, Jamal keeps calling Congaree national park a swamp. And I just wanna correct him. It is not a swamp at all. It gives swamp vibes and people may think it’s a swamp, but it is an actual flood plane and the forest floods about 10 times per

3 (9m 35s):
Year. Correct. So, I mean, I guess swamp is the best way to describe it, but Brittanie is very correct that it is not a beautiful floodplain in the forest, but because it’s a floodplain it’s in the forest it’s covered, you don’t really have a lot of sun that comes into that area to dry it up. So it gives it this really, really unique environment. And again, that’s why a good portion of what people actually go to do is walk that boardwalk area, which is what like a five mile loop. Is it? Or how long is the boardwalk?

2 (10m 6s):
He’s three miles,

3 (10m 7s):
Two and a half, two and a half. Okay. I’m thinking five because one of the things that Brittanie wanted to do is you actually can get off the boardwalk, but you don’t want do it during flood season because it will be too muddy. And then you could do extended loops that will take you to further things to see like different lakes, et cetera. So that’s why, I guess I was thinking maybe the, the five miles, but the boardwalk is two and a half, three miles.

2 (10m 29s):
What’s really cool about this park is that this sweet old lady will greet you at the front and hand you a little pamphlet. It has 19 numbers on it or something. And there are numbered boards along the whole boardwalk section that you have to keep a keen eye out for because we missed a lot of them.

3 (10m 47s):
I don’t think we saw number one, we started at number five apparently or something like that. It’s

2 (10m 51s):
Like, where did

3 (10m 51s):
They go?

2 (10m 51s):
Yeah. So keep an eye out. But what’s really cool is that when you get to that board, the little paragraph in the pamphlet about it will educate you on what you’re looking at. And we learned a lot of really cool stuff from that little pamphlet.

3 (11m 3s):
It was really cool. Like it got to one section where there was actually a clearing and it was talking about like, these trees came down during this hurricane and I forgot how many years ago it was or something like that. But it’s beyond just all these trees came down, points your eye to look at the forest floor and you can actually see different plant life and other types of trees that weren’t growing. And it’s just like, because they had access to the sun and these other parts not that’s why you could see this here or that, or so it was really cool and very educational to just really learn about the environment. I don’t think I’ve ever really been into a forest that is a flood plane. And I really, really enjoyed that a lot.

3 (11m 43s):
It was very unique experience. And one thing that I thoughts just really cool about going to the east coast in general is it’s very forested in general, everywhere along the east coast. So green. Yeah. And here you are in a national park little area in that flood plain. So I thought it was really cool. And you know, I touched upon this earlier in the intro talking about it, but there’s just such astonishing biodiversity in Congaree. It is the largest intact old growth bottom land forest, like I had mentioned, and the waters from the Congaree river just sweep through the area during the wet season and just provides nutrients and everything to keep this old growth forest alive.

2 (12m 21s):
What is the number one living species in the park

1 (12m 25s):
Caterpillars.

2 (12m 26s):
Yes,

3 (12m 27s):
That was the first Wildlife we saw. Right. When we got, there was the caterpillars all along the boardwalk. Like literally once we got out of the bathroom area where they had the mosquito meter and you get to the boardwalk, we saw a caterpillar and we’re like, oh guys, look at this caterpillar taking pictures. We were looking at it for a little bit. And then we walked another five feet and then realized, oh shit, there’s literally caterpillars every inch of this fucking boardwalk along the way. And I think it would be really cool to be there once they actually go through their metamorphosis and become butterflies. Can you imagine that whole area with all those caterpillars just butterflies? Fine. I think that’d be really, really cool.

1 (13m 1s):
And like Jamal said earlier that this national park isn’t visited very often. It’s that the 12th lease visited national park. So it’s not crowded. Great to go. We felt like we had parts of it all by ourselves. We

2 (13m 13s):
Did. Yeah. And what’s cool is we have done episodes in the past about national parks. You don’t need to hike in, or they’re great for sight seeing this should be on one of those lists because anyone can do it if you’re in a wheelchair, if you’re in a Walker like stroller.

1 (13m 27s):
Yeah.

3 (13m 28s):
And along the boardwalk, they had benches. Although, you know, we haven’t talked about the Wildlife. I’d be a little hesitant to sit on those benches out there. And we’ll talk about that very, very shortly here. But we did see an older couple. He had a Walker himself or like a little cane and they were taking it very nice and leisurely, so you definitely can do it. And another good little fuck. ’em hard about Congaree is this is a free national park. I think we mentioned it earlier, but I’m gonna reiterate free who doesn’t love a free national park. Hell

1 (13m 54s):
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2 (14m 5s):
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2 (14m 22s):
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1 (14m 43s):
Have story highlights on our Instagram at Travel Squad Podcast, where you can see the full guides. We’ve done all of the research and have taken these exact trips, taking all, all of the guest work from the planning. So all that you have to do is show up and have fun

3 (14m 57s):
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2 (15m 32s):
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1 (16m 7s):
So how do you get to Congaree? Where’s the easiest place to get there from?

2 (16m 12s):
I would say the easiest would be Columbia. That’s only like 30 minutes away.

3 (16m 17s):
And again, the state capital of South Carolina, but a lot to be desired about the city of Columbia. Not gonna lie. Well,

2 (16m 22s):
I will say the airport. I flew out of it. Very easy to navigate.

3 (16m 26s):
Well, usually small little areas are so that’s good to know on that. So very close to Columbia, about 30 minutes. But if you’re gonna be seeing some of the bigger things in South Carolina, again, Myrtle beach, Charleston, or Hilton head, you could easily come from those coastal areas inland from Charleston, which is kind of like center coastal South Carolina, about a two hour drive to Congaree.

1 (16m 47s):
And like we mentioned earlier, all of us hikes are pretty flat, so you’re really not hiking. They’re more like nature Trails. But with that being said, the areas that aren’t on, the elevated boardwalk they’re prone to flooding, and there are parts of the boardwalk that drop from elevated portions to still a boardwalk, but you’re closer to the forest floor. So those definitely get flooded. And what, during the winter season,

2 (17m 11s):
Brit almost had a incident in the mud.

1 (17m 14s):
Oh yeah. I almost slipped. So the trail that I wanted to do was called the Oak Ridge trail. That trail was supposed to be a little over six miles and it was actually a combination of several Trails. It was like a combination of the boardwalk. And then I wanna say part of the Western lake loop and maybe some other Trails as well, but it was a combination of like three different Trails. And we were advised and not to take this trail because parts of it were pretty muddy and that it would take us quite a bit of time to finish this trail. And we were also on a time constraint because we needed to drop Kim off at that huge airport in Columbia for

2 (17m 48s):
Being such a small airport. The security line actually took a very long time

3 (17m 53s):
Because of the small airport. So they were like, we don’t need that many people.

2 (17m 56s):
It was just the Southern pace.

3 (17m 58s):
Oh, okay. Good to know, I guess, but continuing on with what there is to do in Congaree, like Brittanie said, she wanted to do Oak Ridge. What we ended up doing was the Weston lake loop. So again, this is the first portion or third of the boardwalk. Eventually you get to a point where you can step off the boardwalk itself. And again, now you’re actually on the forest floor. This area can flood. It wasn’t flooded. We actually had some pretty solid dirt area right there for us to walk on. So it was really, really good. And this is where we had a little bit of a Wildlife side and we started hearing suffer like rustling in the forest a little bit. And we’re like, oh shit, what’s that? And we heard some movement in the rustling of the leaves. And then we saw, was it a turtle tortoise?

3 (18m 40s):
I don’t even know, but it wasn’t in the water. It was actually in the grass area, just like making a ruckus. And then once he saw that we saw him, he kind of stopped and didn’t move a little bit, but it was really cool to actually see like turtle or Tor us moving on land versus just swimming in the ponder lake.

2 (18m 54s):
I love that. You said ruckus because I learned that word from a sweet Southern girl in Savannah. She used it naturally in something she was telling us. And I’ve been saying it ever since.

3 (19m 5s):
You’re gonna tell me that the first time you ever heard the word ruckus was

2 (19m 9s):
In Savannah, I’ve heard it before. I’ve never heard anyone actually use it. Oh, without being joking.

3 (19m 15s):
Well, the tortoise made a ruckus.

2 (19m 16s):
He was making a R

3 (19m 18s):
Yeah. Well, I literally thought to myself because we didn’t mention this. The first animal siding or Wildlife side was the caterpillars. Like we saw then on the boardwalk, from my keen eye, I saw a snake in the flooded area. Just kind of hovering on one of the tree stumps on the bottom. And Congaree is very known for having lots and lots of snakes. So when I heard that noise and it sounded like big movement, you know what I mean? I thought to myself, oh shit, did a snake catch a squirrel, a possum, a raccoon or something and was trying to eat it. But then we realized it was the turtle slash tortoise. Again, I don’t know which one it was in particular.

1 (19m 53s):
And while we were on this trail, we did decide to do the offshoot too wisely. I would recommend going to wise lake. I thought it was very scenic. We got some really good pictures there, but I feel like this is probably one of the bulkiest areas in the park, for sure. When you step off of the boardwalk and you’re in the natural forest. And when we were at wise lake, I felt like that’s where all the bugs came out.

3 (20m 14s):
You know, what I found really interesting about the bug situation is clearly the closer to the floor of the forest that you get, the more bugs that there actually are. So again, at this point we weren’t on the boardwalk. We’re literally on the floor, but when we’re on the boardwalk at certain levels, like, I didn’t really feel like there were a lot of bugs, but when you’re on the boardwalk and the boardwalk is maybe like a foot or two above the forest floor, then I noticed there was a lot more bugs and mosquitoes and things like that too. So I feel like the higher elevated you are, the less likely you’re gonna come across. ’em the lower you are than you’re gonna get ’em. But

1 (20m 46s):
You know, one thing that I saw when I was doing research about Congaree national park on a questions thing, someone asked like, can you swim in Congaree national park? No, you would not want

2 (20m 56s):
To. You wouldn’t want to,

3 (20m 58s):
Well, again, Brittanie corrected me by saying it’s not a swamp, but let me tell you something. These flood Plains are like fucking swamps. And we’re gonna talk about the major, major Wildlife sighting that we had very shortly. And believe me, once we talk about that, you are not gonna wanna swim in any of these. As a matter of fact, we’re gonna talk about another activity that you can do. And that is exactly why we didn’t do that other activity. Once we learned a little bit more information, but

1 (21m 21s):
When we were at, why is like, could you hear something in the water? Like we couldn’t figure out what it was, like, figure out if they were like turtles or fish, but I kept hearing noises in the water. And I was like, what is in there? Don’t know.

2 (21m 31s):
There was a lot of weird noises, a lot of weird things going on

3 (21m 34s):
In there. God only knows, but let me tell you something. We finally got back onto the boardwalk area from the Western lake loop. And once you get back to the boardwalk, well guess what? Now you have an overlook of Weston lake and this is where we saw the abundance of Wildlife. At first, we thought it was a floating log in the lake. And then all of a sudden, oh shit, we realize we’re looking at a fucking alligator out there. A

2 (21m 58s):
Gator

3 (21m 58s):
Siding, a Gator siding. There were an abundance of turtles, just swimming under the dock of the lake that we were watching. Oh, all of a sudden then we see a little snake slithering in the water coming up to the turtles, making like literally on the surface. Then that fucker took a dive. Underwater, disappeared somewhere, came back under and wrapped itself around a branch, put its head out. Then we eventually watched it go to shore. So yeah, no, you don’t wanna swim in there. God knows what lurks beneath the

2 (22m 25s):
Gator was cruising though. It was cruising and it was chilling and it was cruising. Like that was the most Gator activity I’ve ever seen.

1 (22m 32s):
Oh my God. That was really cool. Cause when you saw it from a distance, we’re like, oh, is that a Gator? Yeah, yeah, yeah, it is. And then it kept coming closer and closer. And then like, it just kind of chilled in front of us for a while. I mean, yes, it was a distance, but we got to watch that for some good time. But there was an abundance of Wildlife at that overlook. One of the Rangers said she feels like one of the reasons there’s a whole bunch of turtles is that she thinks people feed the turtles.

2 (22m 55s):
I, I think so when I was in Cabo, there was this one lake we went to that had a ton of turtles at it. And they were all at the edge trying to crawl out of it because people feed them. Ah, so that’s what she was saying is people go on that overlook and feed the turtles. That’s why they all hang out right below it.

1 (23m 11s):
They’re like, oh, free food. Exactly. Don’t have to work for

3 (23m 13s):
It. But I really enjoyed this aspect of it. I mean, honestly it was just really fun being on the elevated boardwalk, looking over the lake and just really seeing the Wildlife that was out there. And I know a lot of people might think of themselves like, oh, I’m not intrigued by like a Gator. Oh, I hate snakes. But I would say that I, I don’t know, but I feel like some people would, because they’re turned off by, you know, stuff like that. It’s not a cool animal, like a giant elk or a bear, you know, going to Yellowstone and seeing bison or something like that. Right. I mean, they’re kind of creepy animals to some people, but it was a very fun experience. And this was probably my favorite part of it when we were at the Western lake overlook for it. But I think that’s kind of like a really good segue into it.

3 (23m 56s):
Cause again, there’s not a lot of hiking, the really Trails. You’re just really gonna see the uniqueness of the forest. The flood playing obviously come across these animals that we were talking about. But other than just doing the Trails, one of the very popular things that you can actually do is canoe and kayak within Congaree. Now the national park itself, like a lot of places that have, you know, tours, the national park doesn’t orchestrate them, but they do allow private companies to offer tours within the park. So you can book them with private companies, do your canoeing. And we were actually going to do that on one of these lakes and creeks going through the forest and Brittanie, I’ll let you tell everybody why we decided fuck no to that option.

3 (24m 37s):
Well,

1 (24m 37s):
I’m actually gonna correct you Jamal because the national park does organize some of the, they

3 (24m 43s):
Do the, or that shocks me because like when you go to Everglades and a lot of other places, they don’t do it. It’s private company. So thank you for the clarification.

1 (24m 50s):
But we do it on like Fridays and Saturdays of very specific seasons, like specific dates. So they only do it Fridays and Saturdays of like April through June and then September through November. However, if you’re going outside of those times or if those times don’t work for you, then you have to go through a private company. So if you do it through the national park and you happen to do that, it’ll be free. But if you go through a company you’re probably gonna be paying like $80 a person. The reason why we ended up not doing the canoes and kayaking one, it was a time constraint, but two

3 (25m 23s):
And the main reason, and

1 (25m 25s):
The main reason was that I kept reading that the reason the most people flip their canoes or their kayaks is because spiders or snakes land in the

3 (25m 35s):
Boats, they fall from the canopies of the trees right into your fucking canoe, freak you out. And then you’re gonna roll over and guess what? There’s Gators out there. Now, Gators aren’t as dangerous as CROs, but I still wouldn’t wanna run the risk of being in the water. Wouldn’t wouldn’t wanna be in the water and then no, not at all. I mean, you might get some sort of like bacterial disease from that water even. I mean, I

1 (25m 56s):
Don’t know. I watched some YouTube videos and when I saw like some of the highlights of the spiders and snakes, I was like, yep, that’s a note for me.

3 (26m 3s):
So we saw several snakes and again, snakes don’t really bother me in general. They would bother me falling into my fucking canoe. But when Brittanie showed me that videos of what the spiders looked like, and ironically, we didn’t see any spiders in the forest, but those spiders are big and fucking ugly out there like ugly. And that would creep me the fuck out if one of those got in my canoe and

1 (26m 25s):
Then afterwards as well, I was doing some more reading on it. And then I was reading that during low season, if the water’s low, the water could be so low that at parts you might have to get out of your canoe, bring it ashore and around like the debris that’s blocking you. And then you get back in and was not really muddy while we were there, but it was still muddy. And I can’t imagine having of your canoe onto the muddy banks take your canoe around whatever debris is blocking you. Cuz it’s probably some trees walking in that area with all of like possible spiders and snakes and all of that Gators. And then getting back in all muddy. Like I was like, yeah, that’s a note for

3 (27m 3s):
Me. That’s a note for me dog. Who am I,

2 (27m 6s):
Randy?

3 (27m 7s):
Yeah.

2 (27m 9s):
Another thing that was really cool about this park that we were here during this season, but it’s a nighttime activity here and that is the fireflies.

1 (27m 17s):
I would’ve loved to see them. I think that would’ve been really cool.

3 (27m 20s):
Actually. What’s more Southern than a Firefly. I mean, I haven’t seen them in person really here in California. I’ve seen we have them, but I’ll tell you what, when you ride pirates to the Caribbean at Disneyland and go through the little blue Bayou area and the little swamps, I’ll tell you what they got the fake little fireflies and I would’ve loved to see the real ones out here at Congaree. And Kim, I’m just gonna say you chose like a mid-afternoon flight and we had to get you back. So I think we missed the fireflies cuz you

2 (27m 44s):
It’s all my fault. You know, I’ll just take one.

3 (27m 47s):
It just take, yeah, it kind of was. No, but I would honestly go back here. Well

2 (27m 51s):
You could have gone back, dropped me off and gone back to the park. It was only 30 minutes away.

3 (27m 54s):
That’s very true. But we had a longer drive continuing on.

1 (27m 57s):
So it really wasn’t Kim’s

3 (27m 59s):
Fault. No, I know. I’m just,

2 (28m 0s):
I’m just playing it’s

3 (28m 1s):
Brittany’s fault. Yeah, it was yes. Good point. Actually I was just playing around on that one, but I would come back to Congaree cuz I enjoyed it a lot, very unique forest environment that you’re not really gonna see anywhere else in the United States and free under visited unique was really awesome.

1 (28m 17s):
Yes. If you wanna see the fireflies, the national park hosts a viewing event for two weeks, sometime between mid-May and mid-June when they’re most active, but it’s a lottery system to get the permits due. It’s only a dollar to enter the lottery and reserve the spot. But if you’re chosen, then you have to pay another $19. So $20 total and the best time to see the fireflies is between nine and 10:00 PM. We weren’t gonna be there that late. So we did miss that. And during that time where they have the viewing events, there’s the main area with the visitor center and then there’s these boardwalk Trails that branch off for that. So you can best see the fireflies, but during the season, the actual boardwalk itself closes at 4:00 PM to just normal visitors so that they can prepare for the evening event.

2 (29m 2s):
Something that we were asking ourselves and is of interest to anyone visiting this park is where to eat near Congaree national park. And really there isn’t much to eat out

3 (29m 12s):
There. There’s nothing at all. I don’t think the national park had anything and you either need to pick up food to bring with you to the park, from whatever city you’re coming from. Or if you’re gonna go a little bit out of the way, go north first into Columbia, get food and bring it in. Or when you’re done at the park, go and get food T big city again is Columbia. So do keep that in mind. And I think that’s another good reason why we always say and pack our collapsible cooler to bring with us, us that way we could have food, but yeah, there’s really not gonna be any food options anywhere near Congaree, closest location will be Columbia.

2 (29m 49s):
The place that we ate in Columbia, South Carolina was that Publix for the sandwiches. That Jamal is a number one fan of. I did try them again. I was more impressed than Florida. So I’ll just give you that and I’ll leave it there.

3 (30m 1s):
But you were still underwhelmed. I mean you were taking a big dump on it while we were eating it. Kim, I’m not gonna lie, but that’s okay. That’s okay to each their own. No judgment. I’ll reiterate it again. I like the public sandwiches because I think the meat is of good quality. The cost of them is actually relatively low. So when you’re traveling, it’s something better than actual fast food, easy, cheap, and on the go. That’s why I love it. But in terms of like overall quality, you know, you could see us different here. Kim is still not impressed and Jamal is still a fan

1 (30m 31s):
And not in this episode, but I’m gonna tease you for a future episode in the great smokey mountain episode. Kim, remind me to be sure to go over. Jamal’s freak out about the public sandwiches.

2 (30m 41s):
Oh, okay. I cannot wait.

3 (30m 43s):
I don’t even know what freak out about the public sandwich she’s talking about. So I’m intrigued for Brittanie to, to rag on me in that one and pull another fake freak out out of her ass pin on me. So TBD,

2 (30m 54s):
I knew it was coming because we did Congaree before that we did Charleston before that we did Savannah. So we’re going on a couple days here now in Jamal. I don’t think he had a freak out to my knowledge.

1 (31m 5s):
Oh he did. Don’t worry. I’ll jump into it. When we talk about the great smokey mountain,

2 (31m 9s):
Can’t wait, but for now it’s my favorite time of the episode. And we have two questions of the week. Number one is Congaree worth a trip.

3 (31m 27s):
I would say 100%. Absolutely. It is a very unique environmental landscape in the us. Nothing is really quite like it that I’ve ever seen in the us or anywhere internationally of our travels. Now I will say, is it worth just taking a trip to South Carolina to go to Congaree? Maybe not, but if you are gonna be seeing some of the major cities and sites in South Carolina, or if it’s a bucket list goal to go to every national park. Absolutely. But just to like fly out here, if that’s not necessarily your thing, I would say no,

1 (31m 59s):
I would agree with Jamal because really all you need in the park is half a day to really see it, unless you’re also pairing it with the fireflies, which would be cool. But I think you can pair it with another close city nearby and then make a trip out of that. Do I think you should specifically fly into Columbia? Just C Congaree? No,

3 (32m 18s):
But if you’re in South Carolina, do yourself a favor and take the half day trip and go to Congaree. I do think that is worth it.

1 (32m 24s):
If you’re on the east coast, I feel like driving on the east coast is so much easier than the west coast. Things are so much closer together.

3 (32m 30s):
The states are small.

1 (32m 31s):
So if you’re on the east coast, there’s no reason why you can’t drive to Congaree and do a little trip.

2 (32m 37s):
I agree. I absolutely agree. Okay. Question number two is not really a question, but I wanted to throw this one in there because we’ve been getting a lot of this lately and this person saying I love your podcast and your great tips. Please keep bringing great content. Thank you so much for saying that we’ve been getting a ton of reviews lately about that and a ton of DMS on Instagram, which I love. I love hearing from everybody we

3 (32m 58s):
Love when we get engagement from you guys. So thank you very much. And obviously sitting in something like that is exciting for us to, to hear. And again, we geek out every time, something like that comes in.

2 (33m 8s):
Yes. And I’m glad that you all really want it because we want to keep giving it as much as you want. You’re gonna get, we actually have been talking recently. Like we want to be known as the top travel podcast out there. And we think that we have the chops to do it. There’s a lot of great travel podcasts out there, but we like what we bring. We love all of you. And we’ve been doing this for over three years now. It doesn’t get old. It’s just as fun. The more we hear from listeners, the more excited we get, the more plans we make, but we would love your help in helping us grow to that like next level that we really need to get at in order to keep bringing content. And how you could do that is if you love this episode or any episode that you hear, send it to a friend, text it to them, tag them in it, share it with them.

2 (33m 54s):
That would really help us

3 (33m 56s):
Leave us a review on apple podcast or Spotify and know Spotify now does reviews, but not written at this point, but you can actually do star reviews. So anything like that will help us become the top travel podcast out there. I know with the engagement that we are starting to get more of from our squads out there and you guys right now, we’re very close to that and we wanna be that 40. So we can continue to bring you this awesome content. And Kim can continue to rag on Publix.

2 (34m 24s):
And also if you have an episode that you really wanna hear or a question you want us to answer, send that in. We’ve had people who have asked us, Hey, something like I really wanna take a guided tour, but I don’t know how to do that. Can you do an episode on guided tours? We slotted that in right away and have an episode coming for guided tours. So if you have something that you really wanna hear from us, let us know and we’ll, we’ll give it to you. And with that, thank you so much for tuning in to our Congaree episode this week, keep the adventures going with us on TikTok, YouTube, Instagram at Travel Squad Podcast. And like I said, send us in your questions of the

3 (34m 59s):
Week. If you found the information, this episode to be useful, or if you thought we were just playing funny, please be sure to share it with a friend that you know, would enjoy it too. Please subscribe, rate, and review our podcast and tune in every travel Tuesday for new episodes,

1 (35m 12s):
Stay tuned for next week’s episode, we have some more amazing adventures and tips in store for you.

3 (35m 18s):
Bye Squad.

keep the adventures going

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