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2/21/2008 Post and Courier: Camp along the shore at state parks, private sites
One option for relaxing and communing with nature is camping near the ocean. Beach camping looks like so much fun in the movies, with a roaring bonfire, glimmer moon and ubiquitous guitar. Here along the coast, we can come close to making that scene a reality with a little preparation and a drive of an hour or less.
Several state parks offer campsites at the beach, says Shane Yeargin, an administrative assistant with the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.
"There are probably some privately owned beach areas on the Lowcountry coast where people camp on or near the beach, and four of the state parks have campsites about 100 yards from the beach," says Yeargin.
Some beach camping spots are accessible only by boat and feature primitive camping in isolated natural settings. Others feature drive-up campsites, electricity and restrooms.
Visitors should make a reservation to use one of the designated camping areas at the parks, he says. Some sites, such as Edisto Beach State Park, have beachside cabins available for rent in addition to the designated tent camping areas. Each site also has a fire ring.
"We just ask that people stay near their fire at all times and never leave it unattended, and that they build fires only in designated areas and keep them small," says Yeargin.
While there are still small, undeveloped islands and sandy waterfront areas left on the coast around the Charleston area, knowing where they are and how to use and take care of them properly requires that a camper know the area's land and waterways, or know someone who does, says Yeargin. Sites that are not publicly managed require that campers know how to get there safely and how to leave the area the way they found it.
Campers also must be knowledgeable about the tides and should notify someone of their whereabouts. The Forestry Commission also requires notification by phone of all outdoor burns, including campfires, before the burn starts.
Edisto Beach State Park:
Famous for its seashells and fossils, Edisto Beach State Park has been a popular and family-friendly camping getaway since the 1930s. The park features an extensive system of hiking and biking trails, including one leading to a 4,000-year-old shell midden.
Located about 50 miles south of Charleston, the park is easily accessible by vehicle. Camping options include tent sites (some with water and electric hookups), RV sites and rental cabins.
To make a camping reservation, call 866-345-PARK. For more information, visit southcarolinaparks.com.