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South Carolina State Parks Showcase Beauty, History Lessons

South Carolina’s motto, translated from Latin, says, “while I breathe, I hope,” and few state mottos encapsulate the historical and philosophical ethos of its people as well as this one. 

Indeed, the Palmetto State has a rich lineage tracing the earliest days of the U.S. through colonialism and into forming the country. 

However, South Carolina can often feel forgotten, as if it’s just another flyover area. Its story, written long ago, while integral to forming America, feels like ancient history.

One would be unwise to dismiss this great state, and the stories and lessons it still offers today. South Carolina’s human history dates back some 50,000 years when Native people lived and thrived in the region.

In 1719, it became a British colony, and in 1788, after the end of the American Revolutionary War, it became the eighth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

A fertile region with rolling fields of deep black, rich soil, it became a boom of agriculture, which in that day meant slavery was practiced. 

To this point, South Carolina was the first state to vote to secede from the Union at the outset of the Civil War. After five bloody years of fighting and the North’s victory, it was admitted back in 1868.

The war would not end the trying times for the region. Racial segregation due to Jim Crow laws would long fester decades after the Civil War, and South Carolina was on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement in the mid-20th century.

A topographically diverse and beautiful land, its borders reach into the Appalachian foothills and the Atlantic Ocean’s sandy shores. From history to natural beauty, there is a little bit for everyone who visits the state affectionately known as “Carolina.”

Below are some can’t-miss spots to check out:

Calhoun Falls State Park: This western park’s natural, majestic beauty is a must-visit for the outdoor enthusiast. Towering pine trees surround the site, which sits just on the shores of Lake Russell, an undeveloped lake area that lends itself to solitude and peaceful quiet. Swimming and hiking are popular activities, and fishing tournaments are prevalent at certain times of the year. Pack a tent or load up the RV and get to Calhoun Falls!

Photo Courtesy South Carolina State Parks

Edisto Beach State Park: On the complete opposite side of the state awaits an outdoor paradise of a totally different sort for the outdoor adventurer. One of four oceanfront South Carolina State Parks, Edisto Beach and Edisto Island are popular hotspots offering hiking and biking trails and beachfront access. There is also an educational center seeking to inform visitors about the ecological importance of the area and the history of Indigenous people who lived here over the millennia. There is something for everyone at Edisto Beach.

Photo Courtesy South Carolina State Parks

Battle of Musgrove Hill State Park: This destination is for history and military buffs and can’t be overlooked. South Carolina’s historical roots run deep — the battle commemorated here happened before the U.S. was officially formed. On Aug. 19, 1780, an outnumbered group met the British on the battlefield and, against all odds, won the day, marking a turning point in the Revolutionary War. The victory boosted the flagging morale in the southern colonies and put the British high command on notice that this ragtag group of farmers and merchants would not so easily be defeated. Today, this spot stands to educate and inspire all future generations who visit.

Photo Courtesy South Carolina Parks

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