Visitors have described the natural settings of Louisiana with words like otherworldly, majestic and a paradise, and perhaps the biggest earner of these compliments is the state's swamps and bayous. Nicknamed the Sportsman’s Paradise, one of the best ways to experience its beauty is by water.
About 15 percent of the state is covered by lakes, swamps, marshlands, rivers and bayous, and these ecosystems are home to many of the state’s iconic animals, birds and plants.
Perceived as beautiful and menacing, south Louisiana’s ancient swamps have long captivated writers, historians and travelers. Modern-day explorers still have an intense curiosity about their beauty—the untouched nature and groves of cypress trees dripping with Spanish moss.
To experience an indelible part of the state’s past, present and future, visit any of these mysterious and exquisite swamps throughout south Louisiana, home to one of the planet’s richest and most diverse ecosystems. By paddling Louisiana’s waterways you’ll pass under mysterious canopies, see elegant birdlife and even pass the occasional alligator.
Bayou Bartholomew’s 365-mile path from the middle of Arkansas through Louisiana is said to be the longest bayou in North America and its eight-mile path through Morehouse Parish includes a 1,000-year-old cypress swamp. Also up north, Toro Bayou in Sabine Parish offers easy to moderately difficult whitewater paddling, depending on seasonal water levels. The fishing is excellent too, so make sure to pack the rod and reel.
In places like Blind River near Gramercy, as well as Lake Fausse Pointe and Henderson Swamp in the Atchafalaya Basin, you’ll spot gorgeous birdlife such as egrets, herons and roseate spoonbills. The expansive Atchafalaya wilderness—America’s largest river swamp—is perfect for photographers, birders or anyone wanting an unforgettable glimpse into swamp life. And in western Louisiana, the Whiskey Chitto Creek in Mittie is a popular spot, even billing itself as the canoe capital of Louisiana.
Tickfaw State Park near Springfield offers paddlers the opportunity to explore cypress and tupelo swamps, bottomland hardwoods and mixed pine and hardwood forests via the Tickfaw River. The Kenta Canal in the Barataria Preserve near Jean Lafitte was once used by cypress logging operations. Now its users are paddlers—and a thriving alligator population.
There are outfitters throughout the state who are ready to take you on your paddling adventure. First time in a canoe or kayak? Don't worry, most of the tours are beginner-level to ensure fun for the entire family. But if you aren’t up for wielding a paddle, you can have your pick of airboat rides and swamp tours to get up close and personal with wildlife as varied as swamp life itself.
However you choose to explore Louisiana’s postcard-perfect swamp culture, one thing is guaranteed—it will be the ride of a lifetime.
For more information to plan your watery excursion, visit Louisiana’s official paddling webpage,LouisianaTravel.com