Best Campsites in South Carolina

by Amy Myers
Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

Welcome to South Carolina, Outsiders, where palm trees meet pine trees in a perfect union of lush forestry and pristine beaches. For many, the state’s campsites are at the crossroads of recreation and relaxation, making them the prime choice for last-minute getaways to annual family trips. 

As a southern, coastal state, many of South Carolina’s campsites are scattered along different bodies of water. But don’t think for a moment that means each one offers the same experience. From lagoons and ponds to ocean and riverside views, the state’s parks and national forests have a wide variety of activities, attractions and adventures to choose from. And most of the time, you only have to walk a few feet to be right at the trailhead or water’s edge. That said, there’s no surprise that reservations fill up fast for these destinations throughout the year.

Note: As the state faces the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, campsites and State Parks may be subject to closures. Check online or call the campground contact for the latest information regarding area status.

South Carolina, Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach State Park, rental cabin and picnic table. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Baker Creek State Park

For the paddlers.

  • Location: 863 Baker Creek Rd, McCormick, SC 29835
  • Campground Contact: 864-443-2457
  • Park Hours: 6 a.m to 6 p.m., before Daylight Savings; 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., during DLS
  • Campground Website

With a 71,000-acre lake, Baker Creek State Park is a top destination for paddlers in South Carolina. And since the campsites are located directly on the shores of Strom Thurmond Lake, there’s no reason not to spend the weekend at this waterfront destination. Even if you don’t have a boat of your own, you can pick up a kayak or canoe at the rental shop at the park. Or, if you prefer a fishing pole over an oar, you can cast a line and try to catch bass, crappie, catfish, bream or striper during your stay.

Once you reach dry land, you can stretch your legs on the one-mile Wild Mint Nature Trail or venture for a much longer trek on the park’s 10-mile hike/bike trail. And to finish off the day, you can watch the sunset ignite the scene from one of Baker Creek’s pavilions.

Campground breakdown:

  • 32 electric sites: $28-35 per night
  • 2 tent-only sites: $20-22 per night

Baker Creek amenities: two boat ramps, playground, kayak rentals, restrooms with hot showers, sanitation dump station, picnic shelters and tables.

Reserve a Baker Creek campsite here.

Myrtle Beach State Park

For the beach-goers.

  • Location: 4401 S Kings Hwy, Myrtle Beach, SC 29575
  • Campground Contact: 843-238-5325
  • Park Hours: 6 a.m. – 10 p.m., Mar. to Nov.; 6 a.m. – 8 p.m., Dec. to Feb.
  • Campground Website

Okay, so Myrtle Beach might not be a huge shock to find among South Carolina’s best campsites, but not including this East-Coast famous destination would be a crime. Most folks that come to bask in the sun along the mile of the undeveloped beach tend to stay in resorts and hotels in the surrounding area, but they’re missing out on so much of what this state park has to offer.

Along with the soft sand and warm waters, Myrtle Beach also has a couple of multi-use and nature trails that show a much greener side of the park. You can stroll through a dense forest of oaks, wax myrtles, hollies, poplars and magnolias to the pond and then continue on to the shoreline and pick up a guide for some prime beachcombing opportunities. For those with little ones, there’s even a scavenger hunt walk that spans about a mile.

Campground breakdown:

  • 138 full hook-up campsites: $40-70 per night
  • 140 partial hook-up sites: $40-59 per night
  • 30 tent-only sites: $21-62 per night
  • 1 ADA site: $40-70 per night
  • 5 cabins: $92-189 per night

Baker Creek amenities: restrooms with hot showers, laundry services, Wifi, camp store, sanitation dump station, fishing pier, playground, picnic shelters, swimming area, horseshoe/bocce ball area, cornhole area and outdoor showers

Reserve a Myrtle Beach campsite here.

South Carolina, Myrtle Beach, Atlantic Ocean, Myrtle Beach State Park, sunbathers and fishing pier. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Devils Fork State Park

For the waterfront adventurers.

  • Location: 161 Holcombe CIR Salem, SC 29676
  • Campground Contact: 864-944-2639
  • Park Hours: 7 a.m. – 9 p.m., late spring to mid fall; 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. late fall to mid spring
  • Campground Website

Devils Fork State Park is another hot spot in South Carolina for a wide variety of activities. Home to the 7,600-acre Lake Jocassee, its main attractions are mostly water-based. In particular, the state park draws scuba divers, paddlers, anglers and waterfall admirers to its campsites for a weekend of wonder and excitement. In particular, the park has six different scuba spots, waterfalls that are only accessible by boat and some of the best trout fishing in the state. Additionally, there are also kayak and boat rentals on-site and lots of surrounding outfitters that offer scuba workshops and classes as well as equipment rentals and oxygen refills.

Basically, Devils Fork is your one-stop shop for all waterfront adventures.

Campground breakdown:

  • 59 electric campsites: $40-46 per night
  • 25 tent-only sites: $29-40 per night
  • 25 boat-to sites: $42-60 per night

Devils Fork amenities: boat ramps, picnic shelters and tables, meeting room, laundry services, sanitation dump station, fire rings, tent pads, water spigots, Wifi, playground, kayak and boat rentals

Reserve a Devils Fork campsite here.

Oconee State Park

For the flora fanatics.

  • Location: 624 State Park RD, Mountain Rest SC 29664
  • Campground Contact: 864-638-5353
  • Park Hours: 7 a.m to 7 p.m., before Daylight Savings; 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., during DLS
  • Campground Website

Oconee State Park derives its name from an incredibly rare flower that only grows in the southern Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Not surprisingly, this flora-focused spot is a prime location for spotting Oconee bells as well as many other wildflowers. In fact, there’s even a 1.5-mile nature trail dedicated to the blooms that will take you through a forest of white and yellow blossoms with red-tinged leaves. In order to catch these beauties in full bloom, be sure to plan your trip for April.

Beyond the flora-front attractions, there is also an 18-hole carpet mini golf course located right next to the campsites. Fishing boat, kayak, canoe and pedal boat rentals are available in the park for a full experience of Oconee State Park’s natural and wild elements.

Campground breakdown:

  • 110 partial hook-up campsites: $20-45 per night
  • 24 full hook-up sites: $35-105 per night
  • 1 primitive group site: $32-62 per night
  • 15 rustic tent-only sites: $16-21 per night
  • 2 ADA sites: $23-38 per night

Oconee amenities: picnic tables, potable water, restrooms with hot showers, fishing pier, Wifi, camp store and gift shop and playground

Reserve an Oconee campsite here.

Hunting Island State Park

For the hikers and bikers.

  • Location: 2555 Sea Island Pkwy, St Helena Island, SC 29920
  • Campground Contact: 843-838-2011
  • Park Hours: before Daylight Savings 6 a.m to 6 p.m.; during DLS 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Campground Website

Along with Myrtle Beach, Hunting Island State Park is one of the most popular options for weekend getaways in South Carolina. Along with 5 miles of beach shoreline, the park is also home to the Hunting Island lighthouse and an eight-mile hiking and biking trail.

The lighthouse is, by far, the most recognizable feature in the park. And while it’s currently closed for necessary repairs, you can still enjoy the attraction from the base and even pick up a virtual reality headset from the visitor center for a deeper look. Initially created in 1859, the lighthouse has survived one rebuild in 1875 following the Civil War and relocation in 1889.

For those that prefer to explore the more natural regions of the park, the hike/bike trail takes you across a flat, sandy path past tropical foliage, twisted driftwood and a saltwater lagoon. Its minimal elevation gain makes it friendly for hikers and bikers of all experience levels. For the best views, consider taking this trail in the mid to late afternoon to watch the sunset over the waters.

Campground breakdown:

  • 25 rustic tent-only campsites: $48-55 per night
  • 102 electric campsites: $65-70 per night

Hunting Island amenities: fishing pier, picnic shelters and tables, nature center, restrooms with hot showers, beach walkways, playground, fire rings, laundry services and sanitation dump station

Reserve a Hunting Island campsite here.

The Hunting Island Lighthouse, located in Hunting Island State Park on Hunting Island near Beaufort, South Carolina, USA. (Photo by: Wolfgang Kaehler/Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Buck Hall Recreation Area, Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests

For the all-around adventurers.

  • Location: 999 Buckhall Landing Rd, McClellanville, SC 29458
  • Campground Contact: 843-336-2200
  • Campground Website

Really, Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests need a feature of their own to delve into just how much is in store within these prime backcountry destinations. But a good introduction to what these forests offer is Buck Hall Recreation Area.

Situated beside the Intracoastal Waterway, Buck Hall Recreation Area provides access to 65,000 acres of marsh, tidal creeks, beaches and Bulls Bay, all of which are prime spots for shrimp baiting, fishing and paddling. Also close to Buck Hall’s campsites is the Palmetto Trail which travels seven miles through pine ridges and towering oaks before opening up to tidal creeks and marshy vistas. All of this is to say that you don’t need to travel very far from your campsite to enjoy what these forests have to offer.

Campground breakdown:

  • 14 electric campsites: $28 per night
  • 5 tent-only sites: $20 per night

Francis Marion amenities: restrooms with showers, flush toilets, potable water, accessible walkways, fish cleaning station, boat ramp, floating docks, picnic tables, fire pits and fire rings with grills, sanitation dump station and group picnic area

Reserve a Francis Marion campsite here.