Louisiana’s wetlands are some of the state’s youngest, and they teem with life. Sprawling over bayous and swamps and bustling with alligators, anoles and more than 200 species of birds, the Barataria Preserve’s 23,000 acres hold the rich ecological bounty of the Mississippi River.
One of the six sites that make up Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, Barataria is crisscrossed with trails such as the Bayou Coquille Trail and the Palmetto Trail. Snakes and other wildlife won’t always avoid the boardwalks, so keep your eyes open. Watch where you put your hands: What looks like a mound of dirt could be a fire ant colony.
Canoe and kayak through the waterways for an up-close look at the residents. Just check with rangers before you head out as some areas become impassable due to too much vegetative growth.