Across campgrounds in the Upstate, there has been a significant uptick in campers looking to venture into the woods for a break from the pandemic, according to park rangers at several South Carolina State Parks, which have had to place restrictions on the number of people entering.
“Being out of your box … your home … I would imagine for most people is extremely freeing,” says Adin Fell, the South Carolina State Park Service’s regional chief for the Upstate. “The ability to get out to nature, hear the sounds and see the sights and all those things that make up the outdoors, just kind of relaxes you and puts you at ease.”
“It’s Mother Nature’s response to this whole thing: allowing you the opportunity to get out to just kind of unwind, destress and relax,” Fell adds.
State parks provide a great opportunity
With several state parks just a short drive away, individuals can make a quick camping getaway. Each park offers something a bit different, from those who want to take their RV and set up for a few days to those wanting a more “primitive” experience hiking a couple of miles to their campsite.
Paris Mountain State Park is less than a 20-minute drive from downtown Greenville. It was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps to combat the extreme poverty of the Great Depression. With a mixture of RV and trailside campsites, the park offers a mix depending on the camper’s experience and desire.
Toward northern Greenville County, you’ll find Caesars Head and Jones Gap state parks. Both offer trailside camping. The two parks connect to form the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, which is made up of 13,000 acres of southern mountain forest, where you can traverse more than 60 miles of hiking trails.
To reserve campsites at these state parks and for their current rates, call 1-866-345-PARK. For some sites, you’ll need to call the individual state parks to make reservations.
Other camping options are also available
If you’re not looking to take a 2-mile hike into the wilderness, there are other campgrounds that you can enjoy. One of them is just up the road in Travelers Rest.
The Travelers Rest/North Greenville KOA celebrated its sixth anniversary in mid-June. While it’s locally owned, the campground is a franchise, a combination that owner Jason Tubb says provides consistency and care.
“It’s not a corporate-run property; it’s an individually owned, family-operated property,” says Tubb.
“We’re going to want to recreate, people are going to get to that point they’re going to want to do something with their family, especially during the summer,” and KOA has plenty of activities for people to enjoy, says Tubb. The campground is also close to state parks for hiking and other outdoor recreation.
Even with the occupancy restrictions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there’s been an uptick in campers seeking out nature — so much so that campgrounds are encouraging people to book early or on weekdays as weekends are filling up sometimes weeks in advance.
“What better place to social distance than in the fresh mountain air and spacious [campsites]?” Tubb says.