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Why the 7 Natural Wonders Are Actually in South Carolina

Discover South Carolina's can't-miss natural attractions.

By Jessica Walker Boehm on April 27, 2016

Angel Oak
Courtesy of Greg Walters under a CC 2.0 license.

It’s no secret the Palmetto State is full of beauty, but there are seven destinations you just have to see to believe. While these natural wonders are popular tourist attractions, they’re also compelling reasons to put down roots in South Carolina. Who wouldn’t want to live close to these breathtaking places?

1. The Angel Oak of St. Johns Island

The Angel Oak is believed to be the oldest living or manmade thing east of the Rocky Mountains. While some think the live oak tree is 1,500 years old, more conservative estimates place the tree at 400 or 500 years old. Located on a remote part of St. Johns Island, the Angel Oak stands approximately 65 feet tall, and its canopy provides about 17,000 square feet of shade.

2. Boneyard Beach

Only accessible by boat, Boneyard Beach is a 3-mile stretch along the Bulls Island beach that includes hundreds of bare oak, cedar and pine trees weathered by the salt, sun and waves (they look like skeletons – that’s where the destination’s name comes from). Much of the shoreline has eroded, so many of the trees are now in the ocean, which many visitors describe as a surreal sight.

3. ACE Basin

The Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto Basin is one of the largest undeveloped estuaries on the east coast of the U.S. Located about 45 minutes south of Charleston, the ACE Basin covers approximately 350,000 acres, and it is home to endangered and threatened species like bald eagles and loggerhead sea turtles. The basin includes a mix of forested uplands and wetlands, tidal marshes, managed wetlands, barrier islands and peatlands.

4. Edisto River

Stretching more than 250 miles, the Edisto River is the longest free-flowing blackwater river in North America. It’s a favorite destination for paddling and fishing, and it eventually joins the Ashepoo and Combahee rivers to form the ACE Basin, which is another of South Carolina’s seven wonders.

5. Raven Cliff Falls

The 420-foot Raven Cliff Falls, the state’s tallest waterfall, is located in Cleveland’s 7,467-acre Caesars Head State Park. The waterfall is easily accessed by a 2-mile trail that connects to a suspension bridge where visitors can admire the falls and take in the view. The park also provides access to five additional waterfalls, and it includes more than 34 miles of hiking trails.

6. Congaree National Park

Home to the largest intact expanse of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern U.S., Congaree National Park covers more than 26,000 acres in Hopkins. The park – the only national park in South Carolina – has more than 25 miles of hiking trails and 2.4 miles of boardwalk, and it includes Weston Lake and Cedar Creek, which offer opportunities for canoeing, kayaking and fishing.

7. Carolina Bays

No one is quite sure where the Carolina bays came from, but there’s no denying their beauty. Researchers believe the bays, which are oval depressions in the ground, are 30,000 to 100,000 years old, and some say they were formed when a meteor hit the Earth and broke into pieces that made dents as they skipped across the planet. While some Carolina bays contain water all year, others dry up during periods of low rainfall; however, they almost always contain wildlife like frogs, salamanders, turtles and alligators.

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