The “Keystone of the South Atlantic Seaboard”, South Carolina is a gorgeous state with 187 miles of coastline and ample year-round camping. In its northwest corner, there’s the Piedmont and the Blue Ridge Mountains to explore, great for those looking to camp within a mountain forest. The Atlantic Coastal Plain lies to the southeast and features hot spots like Myrtle Beach and Charleston, all with terrific RV parks and campgrounds.
Where To Go Camping in South Carolina
Known as the Palmetto State, named for its state tree, South Carolina camping is mainly defined by dense tree groves and the Spanish moss of Congaree National Park. While it has plenty of coastlines, much of the camping in South Carolina is found further inland.
Given its location down South, it makes a terrific spot to seek warmer weather camping in the off-season.
Best Times to Go Camping in South Carolina
June through September in South Carolina is humid and hot, so travelers may want to consider avoiding summertime. Plenty of sections of the state have a daytime high of around 90 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity is fairly high as well. However, summer, like in many states, is the peak travel time for visiting and camping in South Carolina, so expect crowds throughout these months.
For those who can only travel in summer, sticking to the coasts is going to allow the warm weather to be maximally enjoyable, with plenty of breezes. Several state parks are great for summer travel, especially near Myrtle Beach and the surrounding areas.
Spring is the ideal time to camp before peak heat and humidity start to creep in during summer. It offers moderately warm temperatures without overnight lows dropping below freezing. Inland cities, like Greenville, will see some of the lowest springtime temperatures. Even then, overnight lows tend to be in the low 40s at the beginning of spring and upper 50s by the end of it.
Fall is similarly pleasant but has the advantage over spring with the autumn colors. There are several scenic drives in South Carolina that any fall traveler should consider must-see in the state. The western half of the state tends to still be in the mid-70s when fall starts, with the eastern half being even as warm as the low 80s in late September.
Travelers wanting to avoid cold weather during the winter should stick towards the coastal sections of the state, as the further west you travel, the cooler the winters. As mentioned earlier, western cities like Greenville are colder and tend to have overnight lows in the 30s and 40s but comfortable daytime temperatures in the mid-50s.
South Carolina rarely gets any meaningful snow, with Greenville getting about five inches annually. The capital, Columbia, gets one inch of snow a year and is located in the central portion of the state. Most people interested in four-season camping should have no issue anywhere throughout South Carolina, as most campgrounds operate year-round.
National Park Service Sites in South Carolina
There are eight National Park Service (NPS) sites in the Palmetto State. Of those, only one features camping. It also happens to be the only true national park in the state, Congaree National Park.
Congaree is one of the newest parks in the NPS system, established in 2003. It was created one year before Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park and three years after Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio.
- Congaree National Park
National Forests in South Carolina
There are a pair of national forests in South Carolina, which make up the majority of the free camping options as well. Of the two, Francis Marion tends to be the more popular among visitors, but South Carolina’s national forests tend to have lower visitation than its national park, regardless.
- Francis Marion National Forest
- Sumter National Forest
Best Free Camping in South Carolina
There isn’t a wide variety of free camping options in South Carolina, but there are some. With only 5% of its land operated by the federal government, campers have limited choices when looking for boondocking.
The best option is finding dispersed camping in the national forests, as the United States Forest Service (USFS) runs about half of the state’s federal land. Almost all of the remaining is split between the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) and the United States Department of Defense, though neither offers free camping options in South Carolina.
FWS has certain areas eligible for free camping, but South Carolina does not hold any of those.
Some of the most popular primitive camping options in South Carolina include the Halfway Creek Trail Camp in the Francis Marion National Forest, the Elmwood Recreation Area in the Francis Marion National Forest, and Grapevine Campground in the Sumter National Forest.
South Carolina State and Public Parks
While it isn’t overflowing with federal land, South Carolina makes a strong showing of its state park system. The Palmetto State has 47 state parks and 35 of them offer camping. Of those 35, these 10 are some of the most popular to visit.
- Jones Gap State Park
- Poinsett State Park
- Myrtle Beach State Park
- Sesquicentennial State Park
- Edisto Beach State Park
- Andrew Jackson State Park
- Huntington Beach State Park
- Dreher Island State Park
- Devils Fork State Park
- Sadlers Creek State Park
RV Resorts and Unique Stays
South Carolina lives up to its Southern hospitality reputation when it comes to RV resorts, glamping, and all unique and comfortable stays. There are plenty of outstanding options, but these six are some of the most exciting stays for those who aren’t looking to pitch a tent in the front country.
- Lakewood Camping Resort
- Carolina Pines RV Resort
- CrossRoads Coach Resort at the ROB
- Ebenezer Park
- Edisto River Treehouse Adventure
- Palmetto Shores RV Resort
South Carolina is a state with plenty of opportunity for outdoor adventure, both on the coast and inland in the national forests. Any good trip that heads through this section of the country should include some nature time in the Palmetto State.