“There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” – Henri Matisse
Winter storm advisories were in effect as we made our way east from Austin, with temps barely above freezing and heavy rains most of the way to South Carolina. The mercury was struggling to exceed 40 degrees when we arrived at Congaree National Park all bundled up as if it was the dead of winter. Feeling the recent months in Hawaii, where we lived in shorts and flip-flops, we had to quickly put those thoughts out of our minds.
Despite the cool temperatures, we received a warm welcome at the visitor center where we took in the park film and the center exhibits. Congaree is designated as an International Biosphere Reserve and it is the largest intact tract of old-growth river bottomland forest remaining in the United States. We expected soggy conditions, but were surprised when the park ranger told us that most of the trails in the park would be waterlogged or just outright closed.
Even parts of the popular boardwalk trail by the visitor center were closed for repairs and we found several “open” sections underwater.
Turning our attentions to the Bluff Trail, we hiked as far as we could before our efforts were thwarted by mud and water covering the trail.
We did enjoy the forest-swamp setting and wondered just how many mosquitos show up in the summer. Judging by the Mosquito Meter outside the visitor center, it must be a lot!
We left the park thinking we had visited perhaps a couple weeks too early as Congaree must be magnificent during springtime.
Visited February, 2015
Up Next: Great Smokey Mountains National Park