Have you heard about the sunflower fields at the Draper Wildlife Area? If you are looking for a magical place to take family photos or just a place to visit for fresh air and a change of scenery, we found a place just south of Rock Hill that won’t cost you a dime to enjoy. The Sunflower Fields of Draper Wildlife Area are only in bloom for a few weeks over the summer, but if you hurry you can see them in full bloom.
Why The DNR Grows Sunflowers
One of the questions I see all of the time in upstate mom groups and our own Kidding Around Community Groups is, “where can we go take photos with flowers?” In fact, in preparing to write this, I saw the question posted several times. While other places in the Upstate are closer and available for photoshoots, I don’t think any are as big as the fields at Draper Wildlife Area. The 24 acres of sunflowers aren’t here to be photographed, though; they’re not even there to be harvested.
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has technicians that plant a massive amount of sunflowers and corn on several different fields at Draper. The goal is to ensure plenty of seed in time for the opening of dove hunting season on Labor Day weekend. Leading up to the hunting season though, the flowers are there looking glorious and they are free to enjoy and photograph.
How To Get To The Sunflowers
When we got to where the GPS led me, I panicked. There was just a locked gate. There were also several other cars with confused-looking drivers doing u-turns and sitting on the side of the road. I figured they were looking for the same thing we were. I drove around back and forth, not knowing what to do. In the process, we drove past something I’d like to go back to explore after the pandemic is over. Historic Brattonsville is a collection of buildings and a plantation from over 250 years ago. They have historical reenactments and other interesting things to see.
Once I found a call signal and did some googling, I realized I was just a few hundred yards from the entrance. Make sure when you are mapping your trip that you use the proper address.
USE – 1080 Draper Road, McConnells SC 29726
DO NOT USE – 1080 Brattonsville Road
(this will be the address if you search the land site in an APP)
Once you turn into the gated area, you’ll head straight back to the parking area. There will be a sign and a path to the left side and the right side of the parking area. The right side has the smaller youth field. It has sunflowers but is a much smaller area. It also has stocked fishing ponds! So If you have a fishing license, throw the poles in the car and go fishing while you are there. The fields at the end of the left trail are the large ones you came to see. You won’t be able to view them from the parking area, but it’s just a short hike on the path for a few minutes before you spot them.
Enjoying The Sunflowers
Once you find the flowers, you’ll want to wander around all day among them. Remembering a few things will ensure that everybody is allowed to continue enjoying the flowers:
- This is not a park
There are no restrooms or facilities to use, so plan accordingly.
- Pack It In- Pack It Out
Whatever you bring in with you needs to leave with you. Remember this is only open to the public as a courtesy. Having the fields open for spectators isn’t necessary, so it could be revoked if things become problematic.
- Don’t Pick The Flowers
Only TAKE photos.
- Bloom Time
Depending on rainfall and other weather, the flowers usually bloom from the end of June to mid-July. Keep an eye on the SC DNR & Visit York Co. social media pages for updates. Visit York announced on July 12, 2022 that the flowers wee in full bloom.
Though the path leading up to the fields is short, it is rocky and uneven. Be aware that it would be difficult to navigate with mobility aids and strollers not built for the terrain.
- The Draper Wildlife Area is open from dawn until dusk.
If you want to have professional photos taken here, the good news is there’s no extra fee! While commercial farms make money off the sales of flowers and the charging of photo shoot fees, you’ve already paid it in the form of taxes!