I recently wrote about my wonderful visit to the Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center in Thibodaux, one of John Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve’s six sites scattered throughout south Louisiana. The other sites include The Acadian Cultural Center in Lafayette, The Prairie Acadian Cultural Center in Eunice, The Chalmette Battlefield and National Cemetery (the site of the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812), The French Quarter Visitor Center in New Orleans, and The Barataria Preserve just outside of Marrero, where I spent a very memorable day!
This natural wonder encompasses over 23,000 acres of Louisiana’s iconic wetlands — bayous, swamps, marshes, etc.— and is home to an incredible variety of fauna and flora. I began my journey at the Visitors’ Center where, through informative exhibits and displays, I learned all about Louisiana’s wetlands. When I saw a preview of the animals I might encounter on my safari, I was raring to go! Alligators, armadillos, snakes, turtles, spiders…OK, I admit the idea of bumping into spiders didn’t thrill me, but it did make me realize that I would probably be meeting up with other types of bugs, too…like mosquitoes. Lucky for me, the gift shop had insect repellant!
After that, I picked up a trail map and headed off on my adventure. Most of the trails are made of wood planks and are clearly marked. I started on the Palmetto Trail, which puts you right in the middle of a swamp, surrounded by water, trees, and other types of vegetation. As I walked along, I could hear lots of birds singing in the trees, though I didn’t see much wildlife at first. But that changed once I crossed over to the Bayou Coquille Trail and the Marsh Overlook. There I saw several large turtles, a striped snake, an egret, all against a backdrop of some of the most incredibly unique plants and trees imaginable. I also spotted a gator basking on the bank not more than 5 feet away from me, which really made my day! (That reminds me, obey the signs and DO NOT go off the marked trails. These are wild animals.)
While you’re down here, plan to check out the other fascinating sites as well. I can’t think of a better way to experience the culture, history, and natural wonders of Louisiana’s Mississippi River Delta region than by visiting the many wonders of the John Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve.