More than a year after a hurricane decimated the state park and the long list of setbacks that followed, Hunting Island has worked almost all the way back.
Visitors will soon be able to access almost all of the park as they did before the storm, with some upgrades.
The park continues its path forward next week, with the campground scheduled to reopen Feb. 1. The new-look campground includes 100 tent and RV sites with upgraded electrical hookups at each site. Reservations are being accepted.
More than 80 oceanfront sites were lost during Hurricane Matthew in late 2016 and not replaced. Four bathhouses at the park were renovated after the storm and now open.
“All the upgrades we had planned to make before Matthew struck, they’re all made now,” said Dawn Dawson-House, spokeswoman for the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.
A day-use parking and picnic area is still in the planning stages, Dawson-House said. Those plans might move forward with the campground now open, she said, with the first sites possibly ready by late summer.
The pier heavily damaged during Matthew is open but still off limits to fishing and crabbing.
The campground closed with the park after Matthew and reopened in August 2017, only to close again a month later after heavy flooding from Irma.
Flood waters from Irma also closed roads within the park and altered the traffic plan. Drivers will now find the route has been restored.
The reopened campground precedes other big plans for the park.
A major beach restoration project is scheduled to start in the spring. And state park officials will be evaluating nearby St. Phillips Island for its potential uses in the park system.
The state bought the 4,600-acre former private retreat last month for $4.9 million to complement Hunting Island.