All camping at Congaree National Park is tent only. There are two designated campgrounds in the park at Longleaf Campground and Bluff Campground as well as free backcountry camping. RV and car camping are not permitted within the park.
Fires are only allowed in fire rings in the designated campgrounds. Firewood may not be brought into the park unless (a) purchased from a local supplier with proof of purchase and packaging material; or (b) certified pest free by the USDA with the original packaging material. Dead wood may be collected from around the Longleaf and Bluff campgrounds.
This campground is adjacent to the park entrance road. It is $10 per night for a tent camping site and $20 per night for a group camping site. Reservations are required. The campground does not have running water but there is water available 24/7 at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center.
Longleaf campground is located in Congaree National Park on the main park road between the park entrance and the visitor center. After entering the park, it is the small parking area located at the first stop sign.
The group camping sites are on the north side of the field and the individual sites are on the south side of the field. There is no pull-in vehicle access and no RV sites.
There are vault toilets in the building by the parking area. However, the flies in the toilet area scared off Jayne from actually using them to sit down. Instead, we usually drove to the family bathroom at the visitor center which we found to be open even when the visitor center was closed.
We stayed at Longleaf Campground for two nights in April 2019 after our plans to canoe the Congaree River Blue Trail were foiled by high waters and flooding. The campground is above the standard flood plain and except for a spot of mud on the trail was a great place to camp. We did run into a few mosquitos as darkness approached though, so definitely bring your insect repellant.
There is no potable water at the campground. Water is available at the Visitor Center 24/7. The potable water spigot is located on the back side of the visitor center. There is also a bottled water fountain outside by the doors to the bathrooms.
Group Sites at Longleaf
The four group sites are reached by a trail on the north side of the parking lot. The first group site is the closest to the parking.
Individual Sites at Longleaf
There are 10 walk-in individual campsites here. They are reached by a trail on the south side of the parking lot. Campsite #1 is closest to the parking area.
The cost is $5 per night for a regular tent site. Reservations are required. There are 6 individual campsites here. There is no vehicle access, no restrooms and no running water The campground is located approximately one mile from Longleaf.
Bluff Campground in Congaree National Park offers primitive, hike-in only wilderness camping. The campsites are located in a clearing in the woods accessed by the Bluff trail. It is one of two frontcountry campgrounds at Congaree National Park. There are six individual sites at Bluff campground.
Camping here is by reservation only through the reservation website for the national park. The campsites are a less than one mile hike from the parking area to the campsites by Bluff trail.
Bluff campground is located above the floodplain although a few small sections of the trail had some mud when we went in April 2019. The trail to Bluff can be traveled either north or south of the visitor center. The shortest distance appeared to us to be to travel along the boardwalk from the visitor center and then finish on Bluff trail which said it was about .4 miles to the campground from the boardwalk.
The website says it is a one mile hike from the registration station to Bluff Campground. However, when we stayed at Longleaf campground in April 2019, there was no need to check-in.
Potable water is located at the visitor center. There is a faucet for bottled water near the restrooms and a spigot attached to the back side of the visitor center. Although there are no facilities at the campground, the family bathroom was open before and after the visitor center hours.
Backcountry camping is allowed in select areas with a free permit, available at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center between 9 AM and 5 PM. A state-issued ID is required to register. Permits are not available in advance unless you are going to canoe or kayak down the Congaree River from the city of Columbia. These permits may be obtained up to 30 days in advance by calling 803-776-4396 during normal business hours.
Backcountry camping is not permitted on the left bank of Cedar Creek between Bannister Bridge Canoe Access and Cedar Creek Canoe Access. Camping is also not permitted within 100 feet of Cedar Creek, Tom’s Creek, Bates Old River, and Wise Lake. Sites must also not be closer than 300 feet from the next nearest site
Only 6 campers and 3 structures (not counting hammocks) are permitted in each backcountry site. All trash, equipment and personal belongings must be packed out. Open fires are not permitted. The use of a backpacking stove is allowed for cooking.
Camping Near Congaree National Park
There are several RV parks within approximately one hour of the national park. There are also a few tent sites available for camping in some of the RV parks. Be sure to map directions to the park from your prospective campground before booking because some sites are deceptively far from the entrance to the park.
Congaree National Park Hotels
Congaree Canoe Trail
Congaree Boardwalk Loop
Congaree Champion Trees
Highway 601 Bridge Landing
South Cedar Creek Canoe Launch
Bannister Bridge Canoe Launch
Why is Congaree a National Park?
Best Time to Visit
Congaree Bluffs Heritage Preserve