Outdoor

Marie McAden

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Jocassee Gorges among the World’s Last Great Places

Posted 2/22/2013 11:01:00 AM

Fall and winter have been very, very good to South Carolina.

Just one month after Charleston was named top tourist city on the planet by Conde Nast Traveler, the Upstate’s Jocassee Gorges was designated a “destination of a lifetime” by National Geographic.

This underrated wilderness jewel was included in a special edition of the renowned magazine highlighting “50 of the World’s Last Great Places”. Chosen by Nat Geo’s family of globe-trotting contributors, the bucket list of must-see sites includes a wide range of settings with undisturbed natural resources from the Loire Valley to Easter Island.

Jocassee Gorges, with its lush mountain forests, crystal clear streams and scenic waterfalls, certainly deserves the recognition. Located in the northwest corner of the state — far removed from urban encroachment — Jocassee Gorges is a nature lover’s wonderland. Along with a diversity of wildlife, the area boasts more than 60 species of rare and endangered plants.

Among the rarest is the Oconee Bell, first discovered by French botanist Andre Michaux in 1788. Found only in a few isolated locations in the southern Appalachians, this beautiful wildflower inhabits the humid, rocky outcrops around rugged gorges and cool, shady woods along streams and waterfalls.

Jocassee Gorges’ 43,000 acres extends from Lake Jocassee in northern Oconee County to the North Carolina/South Carolina border and onward to Caesars Head and Table Rock state parks.

The 75 inches of precipitation that occurs in the area each year has helped create a pristine wilderness, unique among mountains settings in the Eastern United States. And it’s right in our backyard.

Go explore!