Travel article slams Congaree National Park as one of worst in nation

Published: Jan. 30, 2015 at 2:40 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 9, 2015 at 2:40 PM EST
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Congaree National Park (Source: Congaree National Park)
Congaree National Park (Source: Congaree National Park)
Cottonmouth snake found at Congaree National Park (Source: Congaree National Park)
Cottonmouth snake found at Congaree National Park (Source: Congaree National Park)

HOPKINS, SC (WIS) - Ouch. An article posted on Yahoo! Travel ranks Congaree National Park among the top five worst national parks in America.

"A small park with a boardwalk through a swamp (they prefer the polite term "floodplain") so you can stare at the trees," reads the description in the photograph for the article titled Our Tax Dollars Pay for What? The Nation's Worst National Parks. Although the other five parks listed in the article are represented by photos of the parks themselves, the photo for Congaree National Park is a stock photo from Flickr of a snake.

"Step off the boardwalk and into the realm of the four varieties of venomous snake that inhabit the park, including the 'ubiquitous' cottonmouth," the description continued. "Run from the snakes and find yourself in glades of poison ivy or stumbling into wasps' nests or webs of biting spiders that are 'highly painful but not lethal.'"

Although interpretations vary, park officials suspect author Bill Fink wrote the article with a sense of humor.

"We appreciate Mr. Fink's tongue-in-cheek review of Congaree National Park and the four other parks on his Worst National Parks list," Park Superintendent Tracy Stakely  said via e-mail. "We agree, each of these sites can provide some extreme environments that may not appeal to all visitors, but they also provide exceptional opportunities to experience the diverse natural resources and cultural history of our nation."

"It's much more fun to hate things," Fink wrote. "So based on a minimum of research and a heap of biased analysis, here's an authoritative list of America's Worst National Parks."

Based on what he wrote, Fink doesn't like venomous snakes or mosquitoes, both common vexes that South Carolinians have learned to live with over the years.

" you run screaming in circles waving your hands to fend off mosquitoes, you're likely as not to impale yourself on a jagged Cyprus stump," the article continued.

"It is true if you come to Congaree mid-summer you may encounter high humidity and heat, an abundance of mosquitoes, and even run into the occasional snake," Stakely said. "But as the thousands of Congaree's annual visitors know, there are many more wonders to be seen and stories to be discovered in this extraordinary environment. We invite Mr. Fink and his readers to spend some time at Congaree, perhaps in Spring or Fall when the climate is a bit more agreeable."

The park was preserved as the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern United States. It also is home to the tallest Loblolly Pine in the United States, as tall as a 16-story building.

"As a bonus, the trails are poorly marked (when they're not completely washed out)," the article continued.

This summer park officials made an effort to install better markings on trails after a family got lost in the park for more than two days, causing a massive search.

"The National Park Service is honored to preserve and protect such a unique part of natural and cultural environment of the South Carolina Midlands," Stakely said. "Congaree National Park is one of over 400 sites protected by the National Park Service. As we approach the National Park Service Centennial in 2016, we encourage individuals to make a new or renewed connection with one of our sites to personally experience the diversity of America as represented by these special places."

For more information and to make up your own mind, click here.

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