The Louisiana swamp offers views outside the boundaries of what’s ordinary for most people. If you’re looking to leave the mountains behind and need some inspiration, this gives you a preview of the untamed beauty that resides in the swamps.
Dawn in Henderson Swamp
If you’ve ever driven Interstate-10 from Baton Rouge to Texas, you’ve seen Henderson swamp. The interstate cuts this wetland in half just east of Lafayette, but is best enjoyed from a boat. I had my tripod stabbed into the mucky bottom on this gorgeous morning to capture the sun rising between cypress trees as the clouds lit up and the world came alive. (Andy Crawford Photography)
Sounds of civilization fade as you ease along the many bayous in South Louisiana. Bayou Chevreuil is just one of those bayous winding through the Atchafalaya Basin, but it is the perfect example of the beauty found in that swamp.
Lake Martin Sunset
Lake Martin is one of the rare South Louisiana swamps accessible by car and foot. Just drive up and walk the path all the way around the lake to enjoy amazing scenery. The spring and fall are great times to visit since this swamp also is a major bird rookery. Be sure to stay until sunset to watch the show!
Working in the swamps
Maine photographer Rick Berk captured me at work in the Maurepas Swamp during his first swamp trip. I like to wade through the swamps when that’s possible to get the best photos of the beautiful scenery. Alligators do live in these waters, so I keep an eye out — but I’ve never been harassed while working. That said, I don’t wade around much after dark. That’s when the reptiles really come out, and they are attracted to lights.
Milky Way Over the Atchafalaya Basin
The Milky Way decorates the night sky above cypress trees standing in Grand Lake, the geographical center of the Atchafalaya Basin. Nighttime in the swamps is truly amazing, with only the croaking of alligators and frogs, the splash of fish and an occasional bird call to break the silence. It’s truly magical.
Alligators are the top predators in the swamps of South Louisiana, and you’re sure to see some big ones in the Atchafalaya Basin. This nearly 10-footer was sunning along one of the many lakes in that sprawling swampland.
Lake Maruepas Fishing Camp
The swamps also provide wonderful fishing opportunities, and if you’re lucky enough to find an old camp to stay in, you will fully experience life in the swamps. This old camp sits at the mouth of Blind River where it meets Lake Maurepas, and I used two LED panels to light the scene as mosquitoes buzzed around me.
Spirit of the Swamp
Fall in the Atchafalaya Basin is a stunning display of color, as the cypress trees turn golden. This Spanish moss-draped cypress tree stands out from the main forest surrounding Grand Lake, which is pretty much as far away from civilization as you can get.
Sunrise over Lake Maruepas
This is my absolute favorite place to watch the sun rise over South Louisiana. It’s located on the edge of Lake Maurepas between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and when conditions are right, the clouds light up. The only problem is it’s only accessible by boat. But it’s worth finding a tour operator to show you the sprawling Maurepas Swamp.
Swamp lakes are studded with flooded cypress trees, making for some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States. Add to that the isolation, and it’s worth every minute to find a tour guide.
Reflections of a Louisiana Autumn
Henderson Swamp is one of the swamps with handy tour operators, who share its beauty with visitors. There are airboat tours, pontoon boat tours and small-boat tours available — and you won’t be disappointed. Fallis a great time to visit because the cypress trees turn brilliant shades of orange as temperatures finally cool.