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America’s wild spaces - Part 8 - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

CONGAREE is in the state of South Carolina and has an area of 107sq km.

This is the place to go for wildlife watching, canoeing and hiking, it was created in 2003.

Foragers and fishermen may have appreciated it in prehistoric times, but Congaree was only granted national park status 15 years ago. Its swamp-like waterways, flanked by an eerie canopy of towering sun-blocking trees, are a haven for wildlife. Bobcats, feral pigs and armadillos roam, but it’s the birdlife that really thrives here. Experience the cacophony of birdcalls on foot or from the comfort of a canoe and you’ll also get up close to this bottomland forest, one of the largest the USA has left. Canoe rides are usually free on weekends and, as you paddle through this dense wilderness dwarfed by the tallest loblolly pines alive, at 51m, you may even spot otters, white-tailed deer and raccoons along the banks of Cedar Creek.

The park is open year-round, however, try to avoid the rainy summer months as some trails get washed away. Congaree is a 90-minute drive from Charlotte Douglas airport and you can fly there direct from Heathrow. If you have the time then plan on adding a visit to Charleston which is only 160 km south-east. This is a great city to explore and you can also snorkel with dolphins around the offshore islands.

GLACIER is in the state of Montana and has an area of 4, 101 sq km.

This is the place to go for snowshoeing, hiking and road trips, it was created in 1910.

The scientific forecast does not look good at Glacier National Park. Experts think that by 2030, it will have none of the glaciers that gave the park its name. So go now while you still have the chance to see them. Designated a World Biosphere Reserve in 1976, Glacier is the postcard-perfect Rocky Mountain wilderness, full of lush forests, wild meadows, azure lakes and icy peaks. Hollywood must agree because more than 35 films have been shot in the park. There are over 1, 100km of walking trails, numerous campsites and opportunities for boating and biking. You don’t even need to get out of your car if you take the 80 km ‘Going to the Sun Road’. This road crosses the park and intersects the 2, 026m continental divide at Logan Pass all the while offering sweeping views. In winter, skis and snowshoes provide access to much of the park, in all its icy, uncrowded glory.

The park is open year-round. Autumn is colourful and quieter than the peak summer months but winter offers great snow sports. The park is 48km from Glacier Park International Airport, near Kalispell, which is served by flights from Salt Lake City. On a longer trip, you could travel via Yellowstone and Grand Teton before coming back to Salt Lake.

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