Got cabin fever? Hit the road with your own accommodations for a socially distanced vacation in a South Carolina state park campground. With 33 parks offering campsites for tents and RVs, you’re sure to find the perfect spot for an out-of-the-way getaway. Some parks even feature lodging for those who prefer to stay in a cabin or villa.
Along with their many recreational amenities and beautiful settings, state parks offer visitors the opportunity to explore less-traveled areas of the state and discover small towns and communities with a rich history and unique attractions.
Ready to roll? Here’s a two-day, out-of-the-park itinerary for Devils Fork State Park:
Surrounded by the pristine Jocassee Gorges, Devils Fork State Park offers stunning views of the unspoiled mountain wilderness and the only public access to beautiful Lake Jocassee.
- 59 campsites with individual water and electrical hookups and convenient access to restrooms with hot showers
- 25 tent-only sites
- A boat-in campground with 25 sites
- 20 lakeside villas with two and three bedrooms
Start off a full day in the backcountry with a hearty breakfast at Sisters Restaurant in Salem. The menu at this casual eatery includes everything from omelets to pancakes to a classic country breakfast. (They’re open for lunch, too.)
Burn off some of those pancakes and bacon with a hike to Lower Whitewater Falls, part of a six-waterfall chain dropping through North and South Carolina. It’s a 2-mile moderate hike through a Jocassee Gorges forest to a wooden platform where you can enjoy an unobstructed view of the magnificent 200-foot falls.
The next outstanding view on your itinerary will take very little effort to reach. From SC Hwy 130, take SC 413 and look for the Oscar Wigington Overlook. Park your car in the pull off and spend a few moments savoring the extraordinary panorama of Lake Jocassee and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
For lunch, stop at Keowee Towne Market & Café, located along SC Hwy 11. With a nice selection of sandwiches, burgers, wraps and New York-style pizzas, you’re sure to find something to satisfy your cravings.
To complete your trifecta of outstanding overlooks, head up to Jumping Off Rock, considered by many mountain aficionados to be the hallmark view of the Jocassee Gorges. The drive up Horse Pasture Road to the overlook is half the fun of this adventure as you wind your way up the mountain to the 2,000-foot high rock outcropping. Along the way are several other overlooks and a few small waterfalls.
Before heading back to the campground, stop at Jocassee Valley Brewing Company to celebrate your awesome day in the South Carolina Upstate. This local favorite offers both indoor and outdoor seating with live entertainment and food trucks on Fridays and Saturdays.
Make the drive to the Chattooga River gorge to experience the beauty of this national wild and scenic whitewater river and the breathtaking mountain terrain that surrounds it.
Start off with a hike to two of the area’s most beautiful waterfalls—Spoonauger and King Creek. A short, 5-mile hike will get you to Spoonauger, a 50-foot waterfall set back into a lush hillside. A mile up the road is King Creek Falls. The trail to this cascade requires a bit more effort but is certainly worth it. And you can sit at the bottom of the falls and cool your feet off in the refreshing water.
By now you’ve probably worked up an appetite and are ready for lunch. You won’t find a prettier spot to fuel up than Belle’s Bistro at Chattooga Belle Farm. Enjoy a salad, sandwich or burger while you take in the stunning view of the 198-acre working farm and the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background. After lunch at the bistro, you’ll want to check out Chattooga Belle Farm’s other offerings, including a farm store, distillery, disc golf course and a giant compass rose surrounded by a stacked-stone sitting wall.
If you’re the adventurous type, sometime during your stay you should book a rafting trip on the Chattooga River with Wildwater outfitters. But even if that’s not in your DNA, you can still get a taste of the fun with a visit to Bull Sluice, the famed rapid known for flipping paddlers attempting to navigate the 14-foot double drop. A short gravel trail takes you to the banks of the river overlooking the rapid where you can sit on boulders with the rest of the peanut gallery and watch the carnage.
Before you head back to your campsite, stop at Humble Pie, a favorite post-paddling destination for hungry Chattooga River kayakers. Along with fresh-from-the-oven-pies, this hole-in-the-wall pizza joint offers live entertainment featuring local bands. It’s the perfect ending to a perfect day in the South Carolina mountains
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.