The park protects the largest contiguous area of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the United States. This unique and increasingly rare forest ecosystem depends on the health of the Congaree River for providing periodic seasonal flooding.
The Harry Hampton Visitor Center is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except December 25. During daylight savings time, the visitor center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. An official park map and guide, a self-guided boardwalk brochure, species lists, and camping and fishing regulations are all available online or at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center.
Backcountry camping in Congaree National Park is a great way to experience the wilderness. Free camping permits (issued for up to 14 days) must be obtained in advance. Campsites must be at least 100 feet away from backcountry trails, rivers, and streams. To protect the wilderness, campfires are not allowed in the backcountry, so cooking must be with a camp stove only. Full camping regulations (including “leave no trace” principles) and permit applications are available online or at the Congaree Visitor Center. Camping is primitive, with no designated camp pads or additional amenities.