NOTE FOR RV/VAN CAMPERS:
If you drive an RV/Camper Van, or are a car camper and are planning to stay overnight in the park, please note that Congaree National Park does not have facilities or designated sites for those staying overnight in a vehicle. Staying in a vehicle overnight in a parking lot is not permitted, as these are not designated camping areas. Those wishing to stay overnight in a vehicle can check out information below to find one of our local South Carolina State Parks or other locations that offer sites for RV/Camper Vans or permit car camping.
Camping at Congaree National Park
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do I need a reservation or permit to camp at Congaree?
Yes. All campers are required to have a reservation to camp in either of the two frontcountry campgrounds (Longleaf Campground and Bluff Campground) or have a valid permit to camp in the backcountry. Reservations for the frontcountry campgrounds must be made through Recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777. Backcountry permits must be obtained in person at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center from 9am-5pm daily (the only exception are those visitors who are floating the Cognaree River Blue Trail from Columbia to the park; those visitors may call for a permit: 803-776-4396).
Can I pay in person at the park?
No. Reservations for the frontcountry campgrounds must be made through Recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777 prior to setting up camp. Free Wi-Fi is avialable inside and immediately outside of the Harry Hampton Visitor Center.
Can I just setup camp in any campsite? No. You must camp in the campsite that you reserved. Any changes to your reservation must be handled through Recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777.
Can I drive up to my campsite? No. Visitors camping in the Longleaf Campground must park in the gravel parking lot and then walk to their site. The furthest sites are approximately 100 yards from the parking lot. Campers at the Bluff Campground may either park at the Longleaf Campground or Harry Hampton Visitor Center, and then must hike approximately 1 mile to the campground.
Does Congaree National Park offer RV/trailer sites?
No. Only tents and hammocks are allowed in the camprounds. However, the South Carolina State Park Service has a number of state parks in the region that can accomodate RVs and trailers. To see what is available or to make reservations, please visit the South Carolina State Parks website for more information. The Experience Columbia website also offers listings of private campgrounds in the area that can accommodate RVs and Camper Vans
Can I stay overnight in my vehicle?
No. Those camping overnight at the park must stay in a campsite in a campground (with a reservation) or in the backcountry (with a permit).
Is there a limit for how long I can camp in the park?
Yes. A person may camp no more than 14 consecutive days, or for more than 28 days in a six month period.
Are campfires allowed in the park?
Yes in the Campgrounds; No in the Backcountry. Fires are permitted in the fire rings at the Longleaf and Bluff Campgrounds only. Open fires are not permitted in the backcountry. Campers in the backcountry are permitted the use of a backpacking stove for cooking. In the campgrounds, dead wood can be collected from the surrounding area. At no time should live trees be cut for use as firewood. Firewood may not be brought into the park unless it has been either a) purchased from a local supplier and has proof of purchase along with the packaging material, or b) certified by the USDA as pest free and the user has the packaging material.
How much does it cost to camp at the park? Longleaf Campground: $10 per night for a regular tent site; $20 per night for a group site. Bluff Campground: $5 per night for a regular tent site
(Senior and Access Pass holders receive a 50% discount on the above fees) Backcountry Camping: FREE
Details About Park Campgrounds and Backcountry Camping
Congaree has two designated camgrounds:
Longleaf Campground - Located adjacent to the park entrance road, this campground has 10 individual and 4 group camping sites. Individual sites can have a maximum of 8 individuals and 3 tents. Group sites must have a minimum of 9 individuals and no more than 24, with a maximum of 10 tents per site. Each site has a fire ring and a picnic table. Two vault toilets are located at the front of the campground. This campground does not have running water. Water is available 24 hours a day at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center. Sites are walk-up only. No cars are permitted past the gravel parking lot
Bluff Campground - This campground is located on the Bluff Trail approximately one mile from the Longleaf Campground. There is no vehicle access to this campground; all visitors who wish to use this site must carry their equipment to the site. This campground has 6 individual campsites that have hold a maximum of 8 individuals and 3 tents. Each site has a fire ring and picnic table. There are no restroom facilities at this site, nor any running water at this campground.
Backcountry Camping Information
Camping in the backcountry is a great way to experience the wilderness at Congaree. The park's backcountry can be reached either by foot or by canoe or kayak. But before you head out on your backcountry wilderness adventure, here are a few things that you should know before beginning:
All land on the left bank of Cedar Creek between Bannister Bridge Canoe Access and Cedar Creek Canoe Access that is within the park boundary is designated as frontcountry. Camping in the frontcountry is limited to the Longleaf and Bluff Campgrounds only. All other sections of the park are designated as backcountry.
Camping in the backcountry requires a free permit, which can be obtained at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM. Please remember to retain your copy of the permit after filling it out, and keep it with you at all times during your stay.
There are no designated campsites in the backcountry. Campers may select any suitable place, as long as they remain 100 feet away from Cedar Creek, Tom's Creek, Bates Old River, and Wise Lake. It is advisable to check the river forecast prior to your visit to ensure that a rise in water levels is not forecast.
Selected campsites are limited to 6 campers and 3 structures per site and must be no closer than 300 feet from the next closest site. Hammocks are not considered as structures, but the 6 person limit per site remains.
Open fires are not permitted in the backcountry. Campers are permitted the use of a backpacking stove for cooking.
Please follow the principles of Leave No Trace and make sure to pack all trash, equipment, and personal belongings out with you at the end of your stay.
For more questions about camping at Congaree, please consult the Superintendent's Compendium(requires Adobe Reader) or call the Visitor Center during operational hours at (803) 776-4396.