Do you remember a time when there were only 7 Wonders of the World? Now that number has grown and one can hardly keep up. South Carolina didn’t want to be left behind in this game and really, I believe in some ways South Carolina leads the pack. We have some amazing and incredible features that were here long before any of us reading this article were born. In this article we’re exploring the natural side of the wonders, so there won’t be any man-made creations featured.
Let’s explore the natural side of South Carolina.
1. Angel Oak
Let's start with a very well known wonder shall we? The Angel Oak of St. Johns Island. This tree is thought to be one of the oldest living things in the country and definitely is the oldest living thing this side of the Mississippi River. It stands more than 66 feet tall and has a circumference of an amazing 28 feet! The canopy of the Angel Oak shades approximately 17,200 square feet. The park where this beautiful tree lives is free for visitation and should be on any road trip list if you haven't seen it yet. It truly is a sight to behold.
2. ACE Basin
The second wonder on my list is the ACE Basin. The ACE Basin is made up of the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto Rivers. It's the largest undeveloped estuaries along the Atlantic Coast of the U.S. It covers approximately 350,000 acres and is home to many and various wildlife. It would take more than a weekend trip to explore all of this natural wonder, but I bet it would be worth your time.
3. Boneyard Beach
Boneyard Beach finds itself at #3 on our list. You can take a ferry out to Bull Island which is one of many barrier islands found of the coast of South Carolina. Boneyard Beach will hold you in awe. Due to erosion of the shoreline, many trees have found themselves in the ocean instead of dry land. Due to the salt content in that water, they trees have become gray and white. Some of them have succumbed and are no longer standing. It's like standing inside a surreal painting.
4. Carolina Bays
Carolina Bays are our fourth wonder of South Carolina. These bays are found in a few other places as well along the east coast. No one knows their true origins, but they are oval depressions in the ground that usually hold fresh water and are just inland. One of the most notable ones is Woods Bay.
5. Congaree National Park
Congaree National Park is a notable park here and a lot of people hike through there on a daily basis. It's the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest in the entire United States. This forest has some of the tallest trees in the southern U.S.
6. Edisto River
The Edisto River is one of the longest flowing black water rivers in the nation and is over 250 miles long. It's also the longest and largest river contained within South Carolina.
7. Raven Cliff Falls
Raven Cliff Falls hits #7. I know we have quite a few amazingly beautiful falls here, but Raven Cliff Falls is a bit more special in that it's South Carolina's tallest falls with a drop of between 350-400 feet. It's a bit of a hike to get to, but as you can see above it's well worth the effort. The overall rating of the hike is about a 3 although some say it is less. I suppose it depends all on your overall fitness level.
8. 40 Acre Rock
40 Acre Rock is located in Lancaster and is not quite 40 acres. However, it's a 14 acre granite rock that seems like it would be 40. Numbers aside, can you believe that there is a granite rock that big? Unfortunately, it has been graffitied over time.
9. Centennial Tree
This one is quite amazing. It's the Centennial Tree (Burr Oak) of Clemson. They received the tree as a seedling in 1889 and its become the largest Burr Oak in South Carolina. It measures an astounding 66 feet high with branches that reach 124 feet. Burr Oaks have been known to live 300 years. I won't be here to see that happen with this one, but I hope it beats that record.
10. Capers Island
At number 10, we have Capers Island. How many of you have heard of this place? It's a barrier island off the coast of South Carolina with a 3-mile virtually untouched beach. If you're interested there are boat tours that will take you there. Definitely a wonder to see.
11. Healing Springs
Healing Springs of Blackville are widely and well known for their natural healing powers. The springs received their name during the Revolutionary War when it was said that four severely wounded British soldiers were healed because of these artesian waters. Today, visitors nationwide come to Blackville to gather this water in the hopes that it will heal their health troubles.
12. The Sandhills
The Sandhills of South Carolina are quite a wonder. They are actually ancient sand dunes that marked the coast of South Carolina around 20 million years ago. Another fact is that the Edisto River which is #6 on this list originates from underneath these dunes. Makes one wonder doesn't it? (No pun intended...)
13. Peachtree Rock
I could not do a Wonders of South Carolina list without including Peachtree Rock. Many of you will point out that this rock has since fallen and yes, I do know that. However, at one time it stood as it does in this picture and what a visual wonder it was! It was several hundred years old and made of sandstone. It was bound to fall eventually due to the nature of erosion. However, vandalism might have made it happen a bit faster. Whatever made it fall, it's sad to see that it is no longer standing, but at least we have these amazing photographs that people have shared and the memories of what it looked like.
I love the fact that South Carolina has so much for us to see and that everyday we find something new. This land is far older than what we can comprehend and I’m sure that we will be finding wonders far into the future. The great thing about all of these is that they are only a road trip away. Let’s face it, all of them are only a day’s ride there and back unless you want to make a weekend of it. Don’t let these few beautiful weeks of fall pass by… go out and find your wonder and come back and tell us all about it in the comments below!