Encompassing nearly 27,000 acres, Congaree National Park is the largest expanse of old-growth, bottomland hardwood forest in the southeastern US. Visitors come to behold the meandering waterways of its floodplain ecosystem and its sky-high canopy replete with champion trees – the largest of a species, based on height, trunk width and crown spread.
Congaree offers up the most champions of any park in North America, and they grow this big and tall thanks to waters from the adjacent Congaree and Wateree Rivers, which occasionally rush over the floodplain, nourishing the whole place with sediment.
The park was established in 1976 to save it from loggers, and remains an excellent place to canoe and hike, as you occasionally glance skyward at upland pines, bald cypresses and water tupelos. Be sure to check the 'mosquito meter' at the visitor center so you know what you're getting into.