Are You an Ultimate Outsider? Guide to Camping at SC State Parks


My family loves going camping. It is one of our favorite family activities. I started camping when I was a little girl and when I got married, I took my husband camping. We’ve been taking our boys since they were young, and don’t plan to stop anytime soon. 

We like to camp at the SC state parks. With over 40 parks to choose from, you can’t go wrong! Our favorite is Table Rock state park. We go to Table Rock every year for Labor Day weekend, and then choose two or three other parks to camp at other times of the year.

No matter which state park you choose, you’re sure to have an excellent time. Below are some tips to help you as you plan your next camping trip.     

Tips for camping at SC State Parks

1. Start With The State Parks Website

The South Carolina State Parks website is where you will find all the information you could possibly need about camping in the state parks. Every state park is listed on the site, and each park has it’s own page with all the specifics about that park.

While there are almost 50 state parks in SC, not all of them offer camping. The website will enable you to look through each park and discover which have campsites and which don’t. You’ll also be able to see what kinds of camping there is. For example, a couple of the state parks only have “boat in” or “hike in” camping areas, so pay attention to that. Each park information page will also let you know if there are cabins available. 

One thing I find really helpful about the website is the map. There is a state map with the locations of every park right on the website homepage. You can see where each park is, which can help you determine where you want to go on your next camping adventure. Want to go to the mountains? Just check the top of the map. Maybe you’d like a campground on the beach? Check the shoreline. And, it’s super easy to make reservations online. 

2. Check the Weather Before You Leave

There is nothing worse than not being prepared for the weather when you go camping. Sometimes it can make or break your trip. 

If there is rain in the forecast, you’ll want to have a tarp or other covering to put over your tent. You may even want to pack rain gear such as light jackets and rain boots. If it’s going be hot, make sure you’ve got shorts, tanks, bathing suits, and hats packed. And don’t forget the sunblock! Camping in fall or winter? You may want to pack some warm weather gear for those cool days and chilly evenings. 

Should you decide to cancel your trip due to the weather, it’s easy to cancel your reservation. Please note that you may or may not receive a full refund, depending on how far in advance you cancel. But, you will have the option to change your reservation to a different weekend instead, should you choose. We’ve had to cancel last minute before and have never had a problem rescheduleing or even receiving a partial refund. 

3. Pick up the SC State Parks Guide Book

When you hit up your first state park, be sure to pick up a guide book from the park office. This book has information on all the state parks. Each page shows a specific park and what that park offers. You’ll find information on accommodations and facilities, a list of top things to see and do at each park, pictures, a map, and more. Everything you need right at your fingertips! When we are prepping for a camping trip, I pull out my guide to look at each one in order to decide where to go next. 

Now, here’s a really fun feature of the guide book. Each park has a box at the bottom of their page with their park symbol. When you go to the park, stop in at the office, and ask for your stamp. The park officer will stamp your book in that box. Once you collect stamps from every park, you’ll be come an “ultimate outsider.” Just show your completed book to a park ranger to verify you’ve collected each stamp, and you’ll receive a free t-shirt. I’ve got a good collection of stamps going, but still have quite a few more to collect. But that’s OK because that means more camping and exploring is ahead!

4. Explore!

I love laying in the hammock, reading, and relaxing when we go camping. But, even more than that, I love exploring! We live in a state with a very vast ecosystem. The variety of wildlife and plant life is amazing! We’ve seen everything from alligators at Huntington Beach State Park to black bear cubs (yep!) at Table Rock State Park. Most of the parks also boast beautiful lakes and waterfalls, swimming, hiking trails, a variety of birds, geocaching, and more.

Two of the parks (Aiken State Park and Lee State Park) contain Artesian Wells. These are natural well springs that come up out of the ground, and they are beautiful! (I’ve seen them both.) For those of you who enjoy outdoor sports, a couple of the state parks even offer a golf course. And, multiple state parks offer equestrian perks as well. Own a horse? Bring it with you! Lee State Park has an equestrian campground, that is made for horses, and plenty of horseback riding trails. 

5. Check the Website Before You Leave Home

The SC State Parks website is great about posting updates. I always check the website to see if there are any updates that pertain to the park where we are headed. You’ll see updates posted about things like firewood, golf cart regulations, park closures, swimming conditions, and more. So be sure to know before you go!

I hope you find these tips helpful. Now, get out in nature and explore!

Do you go camping in SC? What is your favorite state park? 


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