We arrived at the Winnebago Louisiana State rally on the first day possible so that we could take part in a couple of tours offered. In particular, we wanted to take the boat ride on the Atchafalaya Basin swamp. This is the largest river basin swamp is North America. It is an ever changing environment that has seen many changes over the last several thousand years. It is currently about 600000 acres about 20 miles and 150 miles long. One of the few roads that cross the swamp is interstate 10 and is elevated on pillars for a continuous 18.2 miles.
Some of the latest changes to the basin was the introduction of levees (dikes) for flood control and the establishment of a National Wildlife refuge in 1984. These changes have reduced the number of people actually living in the swamp significantly.
We started our trip from McGee's Landing on one of those levees. It is a kind of place we would have expected to find in this remote area. After lunch in their restaurant, we boarded the tour boat for guided introduction to the swamp. It is a beautiful area that also has a fascinating history of human endeavors including the building of a railroad across the swamp and the harvesting of the native cypress trees under incredibly difficult conditions. There is also the stories of those who chose to make their home in this rugged environment.
Driving over the basin on the way to the rally, I had assumed that the area was very shallow throughout. In fact, we were informed that while much of the area is shallow, the main channels can have as much as 60 feet of water in them.
As you can imagine, there is an abundance of wildlife all of kinds. Fishing and hunting are very popular activities in the basin along with just observing the wildlife.
Our guide mentioned that it can be very confusing navigating these waters and many a local and tourist alike have gotten lost in the swamp. After our tour, I can easily see how this is correct.
The basin is a part of the much larger Mississippi Delta region and it is estimated that currently 29 square miles of the delta land mass are lost each year to the ocean.
I would say that this is a must see part of wild America!