50 Wilderness Sites Across America
The Congaree National Park Visitor Center boardwalk (Courtesy of Miguel Vieira via Flickr)
Forest along the Congaree National Park Oakridge trail (Courtesy of Miguel Vieira via Flickr)
The Lower Boardwalk trail at Congaree National Park (Courtesy of Miguel Vieira via Flickr)
Congaree Swamp at Congaree National Park (© Tim Thompson/Corbis)
A visitor enjoys the view at Congaree National Park (Courtesy of Flickr user musical photo man)

Congaree National Park Wilderness

Hardwood forests, Southeastern woodpeckers and floodplains


Location: South Carolina
Size: 21,700 acres
Year Designated: 1988

As axes and saws felled southern forest after forest during the Civil War, Congaree’s ancient floodplain forest managed to escape the devastation. Today, the forest represents the largest tract of old growth bottomland hardwood forest left in the United States. Ninety species within the forests grow to heights and circumferences found nowhere else in South Carolina—some trees have diameters in excess of 27 feet, with root systems that stick out of the ground as high as seven feet.

Within Congaree National Park, over half of the land is designated as wilderness. The area is replete with sweet gums, along with swamp chestnut oaks, hickories and sycamores. The forest provides a home for seven species of woodpeckers, three species of owls and nine species of bats.

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