Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge
Locals and visitors alike are familiar with New Orleans’ popular places such as St. Charles Avenue, the Riverfront, the French Quarter, and other scenic and historical attractions. However, there is one little known and seldom-visited beauty that covers 24,000 acres: Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge.
Thousands of people pass through the refuge every day, many of them without realizing it. If you drive along I-10 in New Orleans East between the bridges that cross Lake Pontchartrain and mile marker 249, you’re driving through the heart of the wildlife refuge. However, you might not see much wildlife and beauty here other than the occasional waterfowl. You can see the genuinely appreciable beauty of the marsh once you get off the main highway and explore it by boat or on foot.
Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1990 and has stretches of fresh and brackish marshes, along with coastal hardwood forests that seem to go on forever. The refuge is teeming with flora and fauna during the warm months of the year.
Plants and Animals
There are many kinds of plants and animals you can see here, especially when the water levels in the marsh are high. Here are just a few of the animals you might see:
These alligators are found in bayous, which are slow-flowing fresh or brackish rivers. They can also be found in lakes, marshes, and swamps. American alligators can only live in saltwater for a limited amount of time.
Great Blue Heron
These birds breed once a year between March and May in northern parts of their range, and between November and April in southern parts of their range. Great Blue Herons lay 3-5 eggs per season on average, which hatch after about a month.
Great Blue Herons have a lifespan of about 15 years and can grow between 3.2 to 4.5 ft., with a wingspan of 5.5 to 6.6 ft. These birds are predators and stalk a variety of prey including fish, frogs, snakes, and rodents. While they do tend to hunt alone, they can often be found nesting together in trees.
These animals are native to nearly every continent except for Australia. While White-tailed deer can adapt to almost any habitat, they tend to prefer woodland areas because of the shelter and sources of food. During hunting season, the deer often hide out in the swamps. During the winter months, the pines provide warm bedding and shelter.
Hunting, fishing, and crabbing are allowed in the refuge during certain times of the year. You’ll want to check the regulations and acquire any necessary permits ahead of time.
The national wildlife refuge is extremely beautiful during the fall, in late November through December. The swamp maples and chinaberry trees are covered in red and gold leaves and can be seen from wooden walkways, trails, and overlooks.
Be sure to bring a camera and some binoculars! There is plenty to see in the refuge, but you won’t want to get too close to most of the wildlife.
If you’re in the area…
… and you’re looking for something to else to do outdoors, set up some time to fish with me at Whiskey Bayou Charters! Whiskey Bayou Charters is a fishing charter service located in Delacroix, LA, and nothing will make me happier than to see you catch some nice fish!