South Carolina is home to incredible natural phenomena, all within an easy drive. Stand beneath a centuries-old live oak tree in Charleston or overlook acres of beauty from the top of Table Rock Mountain. Paddle the Chattooga River or dip your toes in the Atlantic Ocean. From the mountains to the coast, these seven natural gems are something to behold.
No trip to Charleston is complete without a visit to Angel Oak. This live oak is estimated to be at least 400 years old, which means this natural wonder predates even the oldest structures in downtown Charleston. Although its age is impressive, the size and beauty of this great tree make it bucket list-worthy.
The Upcounty’s Jocassee Gorges Wilderness Area covers around 43,000 acres riddled with trails, hidden waterfalls and rare wildflowers. Looking for a place to start? Check out Devils Fork State Park. The park provides access to Lake Jocassee, the centerpiece of the gorges. Paddle or cruise your way around the lake to experience what National Geographic calls one of the “World’s Last Great Places.”
Designated a National Wild & Scenic River, the Chattooga does much more than define the boundary between South Carolina and Georgia. It provides exhilarating recreational opportunities and beautiful views alike. The Chattooga River is the most famous whitewater paddling spot in South Carolina—a grand adventure that includes Class IV and V rapids.
Congaree National Park
Just south of Columbia, Congaree is home to miles of hiking and paddling trails, but it’s the trees that really leave an impression. Up to 300 years old and over 150 feet high, many of the “champion” pine trees in the park are the tallest of their species in the country. Another highlight: Head to the park in late May or early June after dark to experience synchronous fireflies.
Consisting of more than 200,000 acres of protected land, the Lowcountry’s ACE Basin is nestled among the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto rivers. From hunting and fishing to hiking and biking, the ACE Basin provides limitless recreational opportunities. This coastal estuary is one of a kind and an incredible natural wonder right here in South Carolina.
Table Rock Mountain
Head north of Greenville for one of the most iconic mountain views in South Carolina. Table Rock Mountain also provides one of the most challenging mountain hikes in the state with a 7.2-mile trail that is tough but rewarding. Whether you prefer to experience the view from the top or admire the mountain from its base, this South Carolina peak stays with you.
The Lowcountry’s Hunting Island State Park contains miles of beaches, thousands of acres of maritime forest, a saltwater lagoon and more. Hunting Island is also home to a campground and cabin, a handful of trails and the only publicly accessible lighthouse in the state. Hike the steps to the top for a view of this awesome park and miles and miles of South Carolina coastline.