Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Congaree National Park is increasing recreational access. The National Park Service (NPS) is working servicewide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.
Beginning June 18 Congaree National Park will reopen the following areas:
- The park’s frontcountry, which includes the entrance road, parking lots, picnic shelter, Weston Lake Loop Trail, Sims Trail, Bluff Trail, and Longleaf Trail. Park staff will resume issuing backcountry camping permits.
- In addition, the following areas continue to be available: the park’s backcountry, which includes South Cedar Creek Canoe Landing, Bannister Bridge Canoe Landing, the Cedar Creek Canoe Trail, Kingsnake Trail, Bates Ferry Trail, Fork Swamp Trail, Oakridge Trail, and River Trail.
With public health in mind, the following facilities remain closed at this time:
- Harry Hampton Visitor Center, the Boardwalk, campgrounds and all restrooms and vault toilets.
“As we begin this phase of the park’s reopening, we encourage visitors to take advantage of all that the park’s frontcountry and backcountry areas have to offer, including hiking, paddling, camping, fishing, and picnicking opportunities,” says Superintendent K. Lynn Berry. She adds, “If you need assistance in planning your visit to Congaree National Park, please email our park ranger staff at [email protected] They are available seven days a week to assist you in your park visit. With services and facilities limited, and the heat of summer approaching, it is especially important that visitors come prepared to enjoy the park safely.” For safety and planning tips, visit: https://www.nps.gov/articles/10essentials.htm.
While these areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited. When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders (visit www.scdhec.gov for S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control – DHEC), practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.
The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19, and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.