Explore the Atchafalaya Basin

July 22, 2021

Explore the Atchafalaya Basin, Maison Stephanie

Outdoor lovers and guests who stay with us, wanting to experience true South Louisiana, often include the Atchafalaya Basin, located only 20 miles from the B&B, in their itinerary. It is also called the Atchafalaya Swamp, best known for its cypress-tupelo trees. The area teems with wildlife and offers opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, swamp tours, and magnificent photography. The Atchafalaya River is located within the Basin and stretches from Simmesport in the north through eight parishes, down to the Morgan City southern area. 


The Atchafalaya River Basin was formed in 900 AD when the Mighty Mississippi River abandoned its easternmost channel and flowed in that direction for approximately 1,000 years to occupy the present course of Bayou Lafourche.


The Basin contains about 70% forest and about 30% marsh and open water. It is about 20 miles in width from east to west and 150 miles in length. It is the largest existing wetland in the United States. Its thousands of acres is home to the Louisiana black bear, waterfowl, migratory birds and alligators. At least 300 species of birds and over 50,000 egrets, ibises and herons nest in the floodway. The largest nesting concentration of bald eagles in the south central United States is found there. It contains over 90 species of fish, crawfish, crabs and shrimp which support an extremely active seafood industry.


From 1830 to 1953, the community of Bayou Chene, located in the heart of the Atchafalaya Basin and settled by the Chitimacha tribe, thrived as a center for logging, hunting, trapping, and fishing. By the early 20th Century, Bayou Chene was the center of the Atchafalaya Basin’s cypress and fur industry. The community was nearly demolished in the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and it was hit hard by the Great Depression. In 1952, the U. S. Post Office in Bayou Chene was closed, this ending the existence of the community. The community is now buried underneath at least twelve feet of silt and is one of several abandoned communities in the midst of the Basin.


The Atchafalaya became a lifeline for the early arrival of the Acadians, commonly known as “Cajuns”. Exiled in 1755 from their home in Nova Scotia, Canada, known as “le Grand Dérangement”, survivors established roots and a heritage in the rich, fertile soils of the Atchafalaya Basin.


The Basin, during the early 20th century, was designated as a spillway for floods of the Mississippi River. Man-made levees were built along the central basin which were designed to contain and funnel floodwaters released from the Mississippi south toward Morgan City and eventually to the Gulf of Mexico.


There are many ways to enjoy the beauty and mystery of the Atchafalaya Basin. Swamp tours, either by flatboat or airboat, offer a safe and interesting way to experience its beauty and wildlife. More adventurous guests can kayak or canoe its waters. Walking trails around the lake offer an interesting view. Fishing in its waters, filled with various types of fish, can be enjoyed by many. 


Our innkeepers will be happy to help you plan your itinerary so that you can enjoy the unique experiences the Atchafalaya Basin has to offer.

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