As of September 5th, I am the newest member of the South Carolina State Park Ultimate Outsiders. I cannot even begin to wrap my mind around the fact that I visited all 47 state parks in less than 3 months to complete this quest. This is Explore the 47: A Reflection.
I started this journey on June 13th right after quarantine was over. Hitting the road and seeing the beauty of South Carolina is what kept me going during this pandemic. From the guy selling boiled peanuts on Highway 15, passing the Stumphouse Tunnel on Highway 28 South, or even passing a few seafood markets along US-21, the beauty of each state park includes the roads that lead to it and the people in the area who know you are going to enjoy one of their favorite state parks. Here are my top 5 state parks, and if you go to them, they will be in your top 5 as well.
5. Table Rock State Park
Knowing that you are one turn away from a breathtaking view at the end of a hike is what Table Rock brings every single time. From finding hidden waterfalls to looking at the whole upstate from 3,000 ft above sea level, I recommend this park to anyone who is new to camping. Let Table Rock show you how it is done.
4. H. Cooper Black, Jr. Memorial Field Trial and Recreation Area
Serving in the military was some of my best times, and we used to hike everywhere. H. Cooper Black brings back all those memories of being in the Marines and then some. With over 20 miles of hiking, fishing spots, and places to sleep under the stars, H. Cooper Black keeps me thinking about lacing the boots up again.
3. Devils Fork State Park
I can see why Devils Fork is so popular every spring and summer. Being the only access to Lake Jocassee, Devils Fork is really one of the hidden treasures in the mountain region. I mean, where else can you get a pontoon and find a waterfall, or even do some great trout fishing?
2. Dreher Island State Park
Dreher Island is not like any other state park. During the day, it's nice, calm, and peaceful, but at night, once the sun starts to set, that is when the fun begins. Night fishing, watching the sunset on the bridge, family campfire stories, or even just a night stroll along Lake Murry, Dreher Island is for all ages and all seasons.
1. Hunting Island State Park
If the lighthouse does not excite you, the five miles of beach will. Something about coming to the beach with your family and enjoying the warm breeze of the ocean will always be a good feeling. Seeing sea turtles hatch and go back to the water or fishing on the pier is just a fun experience.
These ones hold a special place in my heart but didn't quite make Top 5.
Overall, becoming the Ultimate Outsider was a long, hard journey —but rewarding when I finished it. I met so many different people who were afraid to leave the house but glad to get outside and just enjoy life again. I found some nice fishing spots for the fellas, helped my mom find a new park for her grandchildren, and even got me a secret beach I can go to at night during the summer that only a few know about. I got an opportunity to bring a few of my nephews, and now they want to get their own Ultimate Outsider t-shirts. We saw a few different animals, flowers, and insects that I still do not believe call South Carolina home. After driving 40 hours, crossing 30 counties, and taking 110,000 steps traveling from one state park to the next, this trip gets the “Safety Keith Stamp of Approval.” I hope you enjoyed this blog as much as I enjoyed going to each state park.
I want to thank Richland Library for the SC State Park Backpacks so I could complete this journey, my coworkers at Richland Library St. Andrews who always kept me going, and Lindsey Taunton for editing behind the scenes so I can bring everyone the joy of visiting a state park.
Want to read about my quest to become the Ultimate Outsider from start to finish? Check out my journey through our coasts, mountains, and Midlands.