Huntington Beach State Park in USA Today’s Best State Park for RVers contest
For those who enjoy traveling and the great outdoors, South Carolina’s Hammock Coast offers some of the best camping experiences in the country. That’s why Huntington Beach State Park, known for its natural beauty, has been nominated by USA Today/10Best in a nationwide contest to name the Best State Park for RVers.
The park, located in the Murrells Inlet area of South Carolina’s Hammock Coast, is one of 20 semi-finalists listed on 10Best.com, for which people can vote once daily until Oct. 12. The Top 10 parks will be announced on Friday, Oct. 23.
“We are so excited to receive this national recognition and coverage,” Park Manager Brenda Magers said. “On the other hand, we are not surprised because the quality of Huntington Beach State Park is like no other. It is an amazing park.”
According to USA Today, the United States is home to more than 10,000 state park units, attracting some 739 million annual visitors. More and more of these parks are catering to RV travelers, with campgrounds, hookups, and other amenities. The Vanlife website recently listed Huntington Beach State Park as “one of ‘Nine epic places in the U.S. to visit on your first #vanlife trip‘.”
“The industry is betting on a comeback thanks to Americans who are dealing with cabin fever yet want vacation options that allow for social distancing and aren’t far from home,” wrote Chris Woodyard in a travel article for USA Today. “Those who own or rent an RV – be it a motorhome or trailer – can stock it with their own bedding and personal items to give them the feeling that it’s a safer option than flying or staying in hotels.”
In addition to its three miles of pristine beach with the state’s best surf fishing, Huntington Beach State Park also offers excellent birdwatching, with more than 300 species spotted in the park, and historical attractions like Atalaya, the Moorish-style winter home of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington and a National Historic Landmark. The park also has three picnic shelters.
The park has 173 campsites for RVs: 107 standard sites with water and electric, 66 full-hookup sites with water, sewer and electric. They also offer six rustic sites for tent camping only. Magers said visitors who come to Huntington Beach State Park are interested in the variety of animals that call the park home, including alligators and many species of birds. Southern Living declares Huntington Beach State Park to be the best birding site on the East Coast.
“A lot of that comes from having diverse habitats at the park including the ocean, sand dunes, a maritime forest, the salt marsh and brackish water ponds,” Magers said. “Camping here is wonderful because you can explore all of these areas and stay overnight.”
She added that although the 2,500-acre park has remote habitats, it has become a highly visited park, and that affects how animals interact with people.
“The animals here are accustomed to seeing humans and they are not afraid,” Magers said. “That leads to great wildlife viewing opportunities and lots of photos in their natural habitat.”
She urges people who have enjoyed visiting or camping at Huntington Beach State Park to vote for the park before Oct. 12. here.
“Huntington Beach State Park is a great place and we love to share it with people,” Magers said. “The more we can get people to be familiar with the park, the more we can focus on conservation education and preservation of the natural environment.”
To make a camping reservation or view current rates, call toll-free 1-866-345-PARK or visit the reservations page by clicking on Make a Reservation at the top of the park’s website at https://southcarolinaparks.com/huntington-beach. Rates vary by season and demand and are subject to change. Reservations requested less than one day in advance of check-in must be made directly through the park. It is open from 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily (extended to 10 p.m. during Daylight Saving Time).
A National Historic Landmark, Atalaya Castle stands as monument to the creativity and generosity of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington. Noted scholar of Spanish culture and art, Archer Huntington modeled the couple’s winter home in the style of the Moorish architecture of the Spanish Mediterranean coast. Admission is $2 per person ages 6 and up. Children 5 and under are admitted free. Atalaya is handicapped accessible for the physically impaired.
The Nature Center, which was destroyed by fire in 2016, has been rebuilt and reopened with a grand-opening celebration at 11 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. The center introduces park programs and wildlife, featuring exhibits that educate the public about these facets of the park. Anyone planning to attend the grand opening celebration should bring a face mask and be prepared to wait for entry due to concerns about the spread of Covid-19.
Once again, you can vote once per day on any internet-ready device (computer, smart phone, etc.) by clicking here.
[Postscript: Huntington Beach State Park finished in second place in the USA Today/10 Best contest, it was announced Oct. 23, 2020.]
By Clayton Stairs / tourism manager for the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce