Jesse Broadt: Contributor
The dinner shows and roller coasters of Myrtle Beach definitely have their appeal, but nothing can compete with nature herself. Certain Grand Strand vacationers–and even some Myrtle Beach residents–have never visited the area’s beautiful and interesting state parks. At either park, vacationers can enjoy stepping back in time to observe undeveloped maritime forests that have remained unchanged for more than a millennia. Below are some interesting facts about the wonderful sights that await vacationers who venture to the Grand Strand’s two outstanding state parks:
Hidden among the numerous man-made attractions and establishments on the Grand Strand is a small stretch of South Carolina coastline that showcases the region’s natural beauty in an impressive way. Situated on the southern end of the city limits, this preserve spans over 300 acres of untouched maritime forest and undeveloped beaches. A completely unspoiled combination of woodlands and wetlands, there are myriad sites to behold in this lovely part of South Carolina. Located in the middle of Myrtle Beach State Park is a nature center filled with factual information about the area and how the land was protected through the years.
Over 300 species of birds make their home in Myrtle Beach State Park
When walking through this bit of paradise, visitors are astonished with the broad range of animals and plant species that call the Park home. Few things are as fun as watching crabs, gray squirrels, woodpeckers, egrets, and even alligators or wild hogs in their natural habitats. Visitors should not be surprised if they also notice pods of dolphins just off the quiet coastline near the Park.
Towering pines and centuries old twisting live oaks are also found in abundance in the Park and offer a fabulous background for photos. Other botanical wonders include American Holly, Eastern Hemlock, and Southern Magnolia, all of which draw bluebirds, finches, hummingbirds and butterflies to their branches and petals.
Set in the midst of woods and marshes, Huntington Beach State Park is also a unique and interesting area in which to spend time and view the many wonders of nature. At the entrance to the Park is a natural, freshwater pond that is one of the highlights of this establishment. Here, visitors will likely see alligators, turtles and egrets going about their normal daily activities.
At Huntington Beach State Park visitors can discover nature at its finest
After viewing this lovely, natural site, guests have over 2,500 acres to explore within the boundaries of the Park, the majority of which are covered in salt marshes teeming with local wildlife. Otters, ducks, lizards, frogs and snakes are just a few of the animals and reptiles that converge in this part of the preserve.
There are also birds galore in Huntington Park, and the following are just a sample of the avian life regularly seen by tourists:
Interestingly, visitors may also be able to view a genuine bird fight: it is not uncommon to see an eagle fighting with a peregrine falcon or another bird of prey. Families may also come upon deer, otters, box turtles, crabs, and even wildcats when strolling through the Park’s many trails. A truly rustic spot untouched by human hand, Huntington Beach State Park offers a true walk on the wild side.
Huntington is also home to a national historic landmark called Atalaya Castle, which was built during the Great Depression. Atalaya is significant for its architectural style, which is unusual and rarely found in America. Once the winter home of philanthropist and world-famous sculptor, Anna Hyatt Huntington, this Moorish-style castle is full of unique and interesting rooms in which the Huntington’s once lived with members of their household.
Many of the plant and animal species found within what is now the Huntington State Park were models for Mrs. Huntington’s sculptures when she lived at Atalaya. Although this particular landmark is man-made, it somehow it feels like a natural part of the Park, perhaps because Mrs. Huntington’s love of nature made it so.
Camping at one of the Grand Strand’s state parks is an ideal vacation option
Fortunately, both parks offer camping to visitors and locals, and this is arguably the best way to experience everything these breathtaking areas have to offer. At Huntington Beach State Park, wilderness camping is also available for those who are not afraid of the unknown. Regardless of which park Grand Strand visitors choose, remarkable sights and sounds await. Myrtle Beach offers a limitless number of attractions and activities, but none that bring people closer to nature then these alluring, unspoiled State Parks.