There’s something special about embarking on an RV road trip, the countryside rolling past your windows as you sing along to the song on the radio. There’s freedom to pause and linger, to pick up locally grown produce from roadside stands and to explore mom-and-pop shops for unique souvenirs before finding the perfect campground for the night.
Traveling by RV provides an opportunity to truly immerse yourself in the places you visit, even if you’re just passing through. You can take all the comforts of home with you, including a full range of clothes for any activity, fishing gear and bikes. There are no tours to join, no schedules to keep and no wondering what the next hotel will be like. The only thing you need to do is pick a direction to drive in and go. With so many incredible options across the Palmetto State, here are six South Carolina state parks where you can enjoy a cooler kind of summer, and even see some gorgeous fall foliage along the way.
Huntington Beach State Park
Located on South Carolina’s Hammock Coast, Huntington Beach State Park’s pristine and wide-open beach is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the state. The park’s freshwater lagoon, saltmarsh, maritime forest and beach provide a prime habitat for birds, with over 300 species spotted within the park.
After you’ve hooked up the RV, start exploring the picturesque landscape with a walk along the Sandpiper Pond Nature Trail. This easy 2-mile out-and-back trail meanders through a coastal forest of oaks and red cedars and past the saltwater pond where you can observe a wide variety of birds, including herons, egrets and ospreys. The park’s most unique feature is Atalaya Castle, the striking, Moorish-style winter home of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington, who left the park and adjacent Brookgreen Gardens as their legacy. Anna was an award-winning sculptor, and their shared love of nature and art is evident across this 9,000-acre property. A unique melding of art, nature and history, Brookgreen Gardens is home to a stunning sculpture collection of over 2,000 works by 430 artists, including many by Anna Huntington herself.
What to Know: All sites have water and electrical hookups, plus complimentary Wi-Fi access. Some sites also have sewer hookups, but they’re all convenient to hot showers and restrooms, just in case. Several sites can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet, while others accommodate up to 30 feet.
Since it was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, Givhans Ferry State Park has been a popular spot for birders, bikers, hikers and geocachers. This scenic Lowcountry retreat sits at the end of the Edisto River Kayak and Canoe Trail, providing a stunning finale to this 21-mile stretch of kayaking paradise.
Stretch your legs along the Old Loop Trail as you wind along the eastern boundary of the park. The woods are dense on both sides of the trail, providing ample opportunities to observe the local wildlife. No trip here would be complete without spending some time on the Edisto River, the longest free-flowing blackwater river in North America. Join Edisto River Adventures for a day of kayaking, tubing or paddleboarding before spending the evening roasting marshmallows by campfire.
What to Know: There are six sites with full hookups (water, electric and sewer) and 25 sites with electric and water. Some sites can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet.
A local favorite, Barnwell is best known for its great fishing spots—three small lakes that host a large population of crappie, bream, bass and catfish. On the off chance you haven’t remembered to pack your rod and reel, you can stop by the park office to borrow some through the Tackle Loaner Program.
Barnwell has two easy hiking trails that are both 1.5-mile loops. Named for the thousands of ferns located alongside the trail, the Fern Hill Nature Trail is in the shape of a figure eight. Maps located on the trail let you choose to make your hike longer or shorter. The Dogwood Interpretive Trail will take you through a diverse hardwood and pine forest, featuring yellow jessamine, wild orchids and hollies in the wet areas.
What to Know: Campsites 18-25 have 50-amp electrical hookups and sewer hookups. Four sites can accommodate RVs up to 36 feet, while others can accommodate up to 28 feet.
The host site for the annual South Carolina Festival of Flowers Triathlon in June, Lake Greenwood State Park is washed in hues of red and orange every fall. One of 16 parks built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the state, many of the original structures are still standing and serve as fine examples of CCC architecture. The Civilian Conservation Corps Museum, part of the John Drummond and Holly Self Drummond Environmental Education Conference Center, is home to interactive exhibits that recount the history of the CCC.
The park provides year-round opportunities for excellent South Carolina bass fishing and boating. Forget your fishing pole? Rods and reels are available at the park office through the Tackle Loaner Program. Catch glimpses of the lake through fall foliage on the Greenwood Lake Nature Trail, an easy loop that meanders through a hardwood and pine forest.
What to Know: The campground’s 125 paved sites provide easy access to the shoreline of Lake Greenwood. Each site has water and electrical hookups, plus a picnic table. Many of the sites can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet.
Covering more than 7,000 acres of rolling, wooded terrain, Croft State Park is one of the largest parks in the state. Once an army training base, the park offers over 20 miles of biking and hiking trails, a playground, canoe and kayak rentals and skeet shooting. The park is known around the region for its equestrian facilities and boasts more than 20 miles of equestrian trails. Shows are held in the arena the third Saturday of each month from February through November.
Croft offers ample opportunities for wildlife viewing, especially around Lake Craig, where you might see different varieties of hawks, bald eagles, owls and other birds of prey. If you’re looking for a foot-traffic-only hike, try the Nature Trail. This easy, 1.5-mile loop leads to the stables before descending to the rocky shoals of Fairforest Creek. A more challenging course, the Rocky Ridge trail offers several scenic passages through hardwood forest and beautiful views of rolling hills and creeks as it makes its way past the historic Whitestone Springs Spur Trail.
What to Know: Each campsite is packed gravel and has water and electrical hookups. Some sites accommodate RVs up to 40 feet. Twenty-five of the campsites offer 50-amp service.
With some of the most stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains South Carolina has to offer, Keowee-Toxaway State Park is truly one of South Carolina’s prettiest places, especially in the fall. Located less than 15 miles straight down SC Scenic Highway 11, the park is the gateway to Jocassee Gorges, which was designated a “destination of a lifetime” by National Geographic, and features lots of colorful hiking trails and fall colors reflecting off Lake Keowee.
Surround yourself in vibrant shades of red, yellow and orange as you stroll along the Natural Bridge Nature Trail, a well-marked, 1.2-mile loop named for the natural bridge that provides the crossing at Poe Creek. The park also provides access to some outstanding rock outcrops located off the hiking trails.
What to Know: Camping reservations must be made for a minimum of two nights. There are 10 paved sites, each with water and electrical hookups that can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet. Larger units will have difficulty navigating the campground road.