Adventures at Dreher Island State Park (a Review)

Our adventure to Dreher Island State Park starts with my husbands (former) bicycle. A custom painted Colnago that he assured me was one of a kind. A bicycle that he’s been trying to sell for years – but to no avail. Like many things in life though, it was when he stopped trying to sell it, that an offer finally came through. A proposition to trade the bike for a very nice kayak – something he was in the market for anyway. However, the bike was located on one side of the state, and the kayak, 5 hours in the other direction. So without any hesitation, I said “find a campground at the halfway point, and see if he’ll meet you there…”

And that’s how we ended up at Dreher Island on a Wednesday afternoon.

To be quite honest, I knew almost zero about Dreher Island State Park before we arrived. But as luck would have it, we found a midweek, waterfront, tent site that was available. And we still hadn’t visited this park on our Ultimate Outsider quest, so we jumped to make the reservation.

Sometimes, the best adventures are the unexpected ones. And that was most definitely the case with Dreher Island.

Sunrise view from a paddleboard at Dreher Island State Park

Dreher Island State Park

Dreher Island State Park consists of 348 acres spread across three islands, and provides access to 12 miles of shoreline on Lake Murray. For what it’s worth, Lake Murray is actually a man-made reservoir, though I’m going to continue to call it a lake. It is approximately 50,000 acres in size, and has roughly 650 miles of shoreline. I want to go ahead and say it’s an “alligator free” lake, except that every single time I’ve made that claim thus far, someone has messaged me and said “hey Heather, uhhh…there’s definitely gators in there”.

Regardless, gators or not, Lake Murray is gorgeous, and I only came out of the lake long enough to eat and sleep. On to the review:

Dreher Island State Park store and office


Dreher Island State Park offers:

  • 97 paved sites (designed for RV’s)
  • 15 tent campsites specifically for tent camping
  • 10 camper cabins
  • 5 lakeside villas (2 & 3 bedroom options)
Campsite T11 at Dreher Island State Park

We are tent campers, and while we’ve stayed at a number of RV sites before, we opted for a tent specific site this time around. Mainly because there was a waterfront tent site available, and when you’re making last minute reservations, you don’t get to be terribly picky.

And Tent Site #11 did not disappoint. Check out this view:

Campsite T11 at Dreher Island State Park

The site came with a raised tent space, picnic table, fire ring, water, and electric (the last one I was not expecting, seeing as it was a tent spot). My only complaint was that all of the tent sites seemed to be clustered close together, whereas most of the RV sites had more space. As such, I definitely felt like I was spending the weekend with complete strangers.

And their incessantly barking dogs. (Hey, you can’t win them all…)

Fortunately, we didn’t spend too much time at the campsite…because we spent all of our time in the water.

View of Campsite T11 from the water at Dreher Island State Park
View of our campsite from the water.

Paddling / Boating

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, the whole catalyst behind our stay at Dreher Island State Park was to say goodbye to the bicycle, and hello to the newest boat in our fleet. We brought along our inflatable stand up paddleboard on the adventure. The weather gods were on our side, and needless to say, we spent almost all of our time in the water.

Kayaker on the water looking at the campground at Dreher Island state park

We paddled near. We paddled far. We paddled around the entire lower island. We paddled to various other islands, stopped to get out and swim. We paddled our way to the primitive campsites, where we made use of the empty picnic tables to have lunch.

picnic table in the primitive sites at Dreher Island State Park

We paddled A LOT…to the point that by the third day, I was feeling waves underfoot when I was standing on solid, dry land.

Kayaker paddling under bridge on Lake Murray

And I can’t even begin to express how incredibly enjoyable, relaxing, and much needed that water time was. There were a number of other boats on the lake, including pontoon and fishing boats. But it didn’t feel so crowded that our own paddling was inhibited. I know that sounds silly, but try paddling a SUP around a lake with constant swells from large boats. It gets tricky.

stand up paddleboarder in Lake Murray


Swimming in Lake Murray at Dreher Island State Park was nothing short of delightful. Living here on the coast, we have two options for swimming: salt water or swimming pools. This year, most of the pools have been closed. And don’t get me wrong, I love the sea. But the New Englander in me misses summer days spent lazily floating in calm, fresh water.

Dreher Island did not disappoint.

Floating on a paddleboard in Lake Murray at the Dreher Island state Park campground

For the most part, the immediate shoreline of Lake Murray was sandy with the occasional rocky strewn about. You had to go pretty far before anything felt “mucky” underneath, making it perfect for the lazy-days-of-summer floating sessions.

Once again, if there are indeed alligators in there: don’t tell me. I would like to continue to be blissfully unaware.

And unlike our experience at Santee State Park, the “fishing” presence didn’t feel so …destructive. There were plenty of fisherman around (rumor is, there are huge bass in this lake) but I don’t recall seeing one single discarded line, dismembered fish, or bait trash laying on the shore. It was awesome.


There are just over two and a half miles of trails in Dreher Island State Park. Once again, I didn’t set foot on a single one of them. Yeah, I don’t even recognize myself anymore. But that water was far too beautiful to leave behind for some hiking or trail running during this trip. And when I wasn’t in the water, I was enjoying the view of the water. #SorryNotSorry, as the kids say.

Firepit at Santee State Park Campground

Dreher Island State Park – Know Before You Go:

  • Location: 3677 State Park Road, Prosperity, SC 29127
  • Admission: $3 adults; $1.50 SC seniors; $1 children age 6-15; age 5 & younger free (Or, included in your campground reservations, or with an annual State Park pass).
  • The park is open from dusk until dawn., daily, unless you have a reserved campsite (then obviously, you can stay after closing time!

For more information, visit the Dreher Island State Park page of the South Carolina State Parks website!

Campstie T14 at Dreher Island State Park

Dreher Island: Final Thoughts

In short, Dreher Island State Park has been one of our favorites so far (thanks Colnago!). It wasn’t the quietest park or the most secluded, but the novelty of the lake certainly made up for it. If you are looking for a relaxing waterfront park – this is the place for you. We will most definitely be back, and hope to check out one of the camper cabins on our next visit. Stay tuned!

View of Lake Murray from campsite T11 at Dreher Island State park

About Heather

Hi. I'm Heather. Exercise physiologist by day, adventure seeker...also by day, and sometimes night. I like: mountains, running long distances, rabbits, sleeping in tents, poking at campfires with a stick, and Gordon Lightfoot. I dislike: peanut butter, bent tent poles, sitting still for too long, and writing "about me" sections.