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The best outdoor activities in the Louisiana wetlands

Flowing out of northern New Orleans, the vast Lake Pontchartrain feels more like an ocean than a lake; connected to the Gulf of Mexico by a narrow and meandering strait. There are countless ways to enjoy these waters, from paddling the edges to hopping on a rental boat.

A particularly great option is a session on NOLA paddleboards, which by the way will be ridden by the first man to cross the mighty lake on a paddleboard. Group sessions break out on the lake starting in March, and the operator provides visitors with all the gear and instruction they need to navigate the water – even confident professionals can break away from the group at any time. You’ll get great views of the Big Easy and in particular the New Canal Lighthouse, which serves as the starting point.

Named for the French pirate who raided the Gulf of Mexico in the early 1800s, this reserve is an oasis of coves, boardwalks, and mysterious maritime history. The Barataria Preserve, one of the park’s six sites, protects a particularly rich area of ​​marshes and marshes. This is also where the annual Spring in the Swamp event takes place. The program includes activities such as ranger-led canoe trips; a nocturnal “Frog Weak” where visitors are invited to listen to the twilight chorus of amphibians; and naturalist-led sessions geared towards children.

Nestled within the Atchafalaya Swamp — the largest of its kind in the region at nearly a million acres — Lake Fausse Pointe State Park is a great home base for exploring the sweltering waters. You can fully immerse yourself in the wetland wonderland by booking one of the rustic cabins that sit right on the side of the swamp. Deluxe options have room for an entire family, plus amenities like linens and cookware — although the real draw is the front-row view of the swamp, where you might spot alligators lazily plowing through the water, or a great blue heron, who dives for his dinner. Beyond your waterfront seat, a boat launch provides access to Spanish moss-covered bayous — there’s also a seven-mile canoe route and a trio of nature trails.