The United States Congress designated the Cape Romain Wilderness (map
) in 1975 and it now has a total of 29,000 acres
All of this wilderness is located in South Carolina
and is managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service.
For 22 miles, the Cape Romain Wilderness stretches wild and free along the coastline of South Carolina, protecting sanctuaries of open water, sandy beaches, saltwater marshes, and tens of thousands of water-loving birds. No other place on the Atlantic coast attracts as many oystercatchers during winter. Waiting patiently until an oyster opens up, these splendid black and white birds strike suddenly, using their long red beaks to rip at the oyster's muscle. Here in summer you'll find thousands of terns and brown pelicans, and black skimmers flying with their black and red bills gaping to skim food from the surface of the ocean and estuaries. Hundreds of herons and egrets pace on long legs looking for food, and the beaches stir under the feet of godwits, whimbrels, and dowitchers. In the marshes, the clapper rails, sometimes more than 25,000 of them, fill the air with their strange clattering. Colorful songbirds migrate through in spring, joining year-round residents such as flickers and yellow-throated warblers.
Loggerhead sea turtles lay more eggs in these beaches than anywhere else along South Carolina's coast. Don't be surprised if you miss them, since they most often choose the night, when Cape Romain NWR and therefore Wilderness are closed, to drag their great broad backs from the ocean.
Two historic lighthouses, built in 1827 and 1857, stand as sentinels on Lighthouse Island. Within stands of maritime forests, vegetation in the area includes oaks and shrubs as well as palmettos. Beaches and dunes are often carpeted in a layer of sea oats and colorful verbenas. The best way to see Cape Romain is by sea kayaking.