Congaree is the last US location to be named a "National Park." It use to be Congaree Swamp National Monument. But, in 2003, the US Congress made it Congaree National Park
. They removed the word "swamp" because it is not a swamp, rather it's a river floodplain.
|Bald Cypress and their "knees"|
I made this place my last park visit east of the Mississippi because I knew it to be hot and muggy here. But, fate had other ideas. It was still quite hot and humid in late September. So, I just had to deal with it, making sure to slather on both the sun screen and bug spray. I was sure glad to have the window screens on my "Prius RV" to keep the skeeters out and let the breeze in.
|A very large loblolly pine|
I was fortunate to time my visit with both a ranger-led canoe paddle, and an evening "Owl Prowl" hike. Earlier in the day, I also did a self-guided hike on the 2.4 mile boardwalk through dense floodplain forest
, among amazing bald cypress, water tupelo, and loblolly pine. This is the largest remaining old growth river floodplain forest on the continent, with the largest loblolly pine tree (southern yellow pine) in the US.
The canoe paddle on Cedar Creek was wonderful. The creek was low and had almost no current; a very easy paddle. We saw several birds, heard barred owls, saw several water snakes
, raccoons, and a cardinal flower
. With the long Spanish moss hanging down and the bald cypress knees pointing up, it looked like cave stalagmites and stalactites on the creek. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera ... I don't trust myself in a canoe with any electronic devices that aren't water resistant *lol*.
The "Owl Prowl" hike was on the same boardwalk as my morning hike, but in the pitch dark. We heard several barred owls
talking back and forth.
Every 4 to 5 years, the portion of the boardwalk that is 8' off the ground gets covered with water. The rangers shared that the only places in the park that aren't under water are the road, visitor center, and campground. During my visit, there was very little water.
Despite the heat and humidity, I really enjoyed my visit to this park.
|Portion of an old still|
back in the woods
originally posted 10/27/10