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Add Some Adventure to Your Columbia Vacation

Marie McAden Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.
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Congaree National Park offers ranger-guided canoe and kayak trips through the old-growth bottomland forest.

If you’re among the growing number of travelers looking for a little adventure on your vacation, you’ll find plenty to get your adrenaline flowing in South Carolina. All of the state’s top destinations offer an array of exciting activities and experiences, from mountain biking and kayaking to ziplining and horseback riding.

Visiting Columbia? For a big thrill, consider these six awesome adventures:

Tube the Rapids of the Lower Saluda
Palmetto Outdoors offers tubing trips on a 2.5-mile section of the Saluda River featuring Class I and II rapids. Children must be at least 10 years old to participate. It typically takes three hours to float downstream to the take-out at the West Columbia Riverwalk. Kayak rentals also are available for paddlers with whitewater experience.

 

Paddle Through an Old Growth Bottomland Forest
Just a short drive from downtown Columbia, Congaree National Park preserves the largest remaining stand of old-growth bottomland forest in the United States. One of the best ways to experience this pristine wilderness is on a ranger-guided canoe trip on Cedar Creek, the park’s primary waterway. Tours are offered at various times throughout the year. Several outfitters, including Palmetto OutdoorsJK Adventure Guides and Carolina Outdoor Adventures, also offer guided trips on Cedar Creek.

 

Jet Ski on Lake Murray
For a more revved-up water adventure, head to Lake Murray and rent a jet ski at one of the many marinas on this beautiful 50,000-acre freshwater reservoir. Pontoon boats, kayaks and paddleboards also are available to rent.

 

Mountain Bike in One of the Largest Urban Forests in the Eastern United States
With 2,137 acres of forestland, Harbison State Forest (https://www.scfc.gov/state-forests/harbison-state-forest/) offers 18 miles of trails for bikinghiking and running. Set at the edge of the Broad River, the scenic terrain features everything from rock gardens to big rolling dips to steep switchbacks, offering challenging rides for even the most experienced mountain bikers.

 

Go Four-Wheeling in a Piedmont ATV Park
You’ll never have more fun getting muddy than at Carolina Adventure World, the largest all-terrain vehicle, side-by-side and dirt bike riding park in the Southeast. Located in nearby Winnsboro, this 2,600-acre all-terrain off-road fantasyland features 100 miles of professionally designed trails for every level of rider. Rent an ATV, UTV or dirt bike and rev ‘er up.

 

Swing through the Trees at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden
Make like the monkeys at the zoo and play in the tree tops on the Zip the Zoo canopy tour or Zoom the River zip line. On this attraction, you’ll climb through a cargo net, cross a rickety bridge and take a 1,000-foot flight over the Saluda River. (Temporarily unavailable due to COVID.) The zoo also features a ropes course and rock wall for more sky-high fun.

Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.