I walked through this park a few years ago with friends, and decided then that I would return with my Sony DSLR camera sometime in the future. This park has a southern magic all its own, hard to explain but I’ll try…
There are trails throughout the park, so I started off on one of those, the Firefly trail, with the trailhead conveniently at the visitor center (which also has water, water bottle refilling, bathrooms, and a nice little gift, as well as rangers to help you plan your exploration of the park). Most people choose the boardwalk trail (more on that later), so I met very few people and was free to enjoy the bird song and the swampy vegetation and trees. The light was amazing, highlighting all the spring green leaves and I kept stopping to try and capture that. I think I got close with this one.
The water level was much lower than on my previous visit, but I still had fun taking photos of the reflected trees. Those Great Blue Skimmer dragonflies were harder to catch with my camera, and it turns out I missed them all, fast fliers that they are. Trees don’t move, so much easier to photograph 🙂
The boardwalk trail provides an easy, ADA-accessible way to experience the park. It’s usually a loop through different environments, starting and ending at the visitor center, but due to a reconstruction project, it’s blocked in the middle, making each half of the loop an out and back trail. This visit, I went left at the split a few minutes out from the visitor center. There were fewer people on this side and I went for minutes at a time without encountering another soul. Remembering how crowded the Utah National Parks were, I celebrated my solitude at Congaree!
It’s spring for the caterpillars, too, dropping like rain from the trees (a hat would have been a great idea, I realized too late…). They land on the boardwalk and its rails, which made for a cool close-up shot. (Don’t ask me what they will turn into, I have no idea.)
The day heated up after noon, closing in on the predicted high of 88F, so I decided not to do the other half of the boardwalk loop and save that for another time. I’d filled up my eyes, my senses, and a lot of my camera’s SD card with images from my explorations, so it was time to head back home and share my finds with all of you.
Related post: Congaree National Park (2021 visit)
The world reveals itself to those who travel on foot.