Camping in the Atchafalaya Basin?
Let me correct that right off the bat … we do not camp in a tent. Well, we have. But not in South Louisiana, in the summer of sweltering heat and humidity in the Atchafalaya Basin where the mosquitos are as big as the birds! We “glamp” in a 27-foot camper with most of the conveniences of home. I am writing this from my chair, in front of the fan, in the shade of the awning and stately shade tree.
Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana
The Atchafalaya Basin is the largest wetland and swamp in the United States, between Baton Rouge and Lafayette. The swamps of Louisiana you see on television do not a portray a true depiction of the Atchafalaya. It is a combination of a river delta and wetlands where the Atchafalaya River and the Gulf of Mexico meet. It is God’s handiwork and his way of handling flood waters. Man created a levee to keep the water out of the homes, camps, and businesses nearby.
Heat and Humidity in the South
Our favorite campgrounds are those with lots of trees and grass and space between the sites. I, personally, don’t like to visit campgrounds without a pool in the summertime. While Louisiana temperatures are not the worst in the country, the humidity is a nightmare. You know that feeling of not being able to breathe when you step into a sauna? It takes a few moments to get used to breathing the sticky, humid air. That is how we feel when we walk outside in the summer in Louisiana. Rain doesn’t usually cool it off much because it makes the humidity even higher. But I would rather relax in a beautiful setting in the heat than at home. It is quiet and peaceful here (when my son and grandson are not arguing).
Frenchman’s Wilderness Campground
We are camping at Frenchman’s Wilderness Campground at the Butte Larose exit off I-10. You can find them online. The campground is simple but very neat and stays immaculate. The staff is super friendly and the sites are level and have concrete patio areas. They have a few cabins and have various activities on a regular basis. There is a small store, boat launch, pool, nice bathhouses, playgrounds, and mini-golf.
One of my favorite things about camping is meeting new people. Many years ago, upon staying at Frenchman’s Wilderness, we met a couple that worked here and we kept in touch. We met the greatest couple this week at the pool with their grandkids. After spending a couple of hours at the pool talking with them, we found out that we have a passion for our faith in common. How fascinating it is to me that God can bring together complete strangers that become friends in a matter of hours. We feel like we have known them for years, sharing a meal, talking and laughing while our grandkids played together.
The Beauty of the Louisiana Wetlands
When traveling from Texas on I-10, going eastward to Baton Rouge, one must cross an extremely long bridge over the Atchafalaya Basin. The lucky ones will do this on a gorgeous, sunny day. Those who are truly blessed, will not encounter a wreck that shuts down the interstate, as there are no alternate routes on this section of roadway. The bridge is 18.2 miles long which makes it the third longest bridge in the United States and second longest on the interstate system. Part of the bridge is over land. The two separate bridges join as it crosses the Whiskey Bay Pilot Channel, which is utilized by boat captains to cross from the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River into Texas.
Louisiana the Sportsman’s Paradise
I don’t know if the extreme humidity is due to the vast number of waterways but it would be truly miserable living here without them. In the map in the picture to the right, you can see that there is almost as much water as land in this area. There are almost one million acres in the Atchafalaya Basin, covering over 2200 square miles. For that reason, more Louisiana residents have boats than not. Boating, swimming, skiing, jet skiing, fishing, hunting, kayaking, canoeing and even frogging are commonplace in the “summer months.” Louisiana summer season starts in February or March and lasts until October or November. Fishing is a year-round activity.
Please consider this an invitation to visit our small state with a huge personality. Southern hospitality is a real thing. The food is amazing, the people are friendly and the scenery is so much better than the pictures reflect. Don’t bother bringing a jacket unless you are here between November and March. Bring your appetite and swimsuit!