Photo Wonder: Cypress Swamps of Texas and Louisiana
Why a wonder - The centuries-old, flooded Cypress forest, which is veiled in Spanish moss, is a natural wonder and a visual delight. It is a lush habitat for aquatic wildlife, migratory birds and alligators. Caddo Lake and its environs is an internationally protected wetland and includes the largest cypress forest in the world.
Where – On the border of Texas and Louisiana, Caddo Lake State Park is located on the banks of the Big Cypress Bayou, upstream from 25,000-acre Caddo Lake. This watershed encompasses lake waters, meandering bayous, wetlands and cypress swamp. Access to the water is obtained via Caddo Lake State Park and small towns along the waterway in Texas and Louisiana, such as Karnack, Texas. Scout the area for boat launches for your canoe, small boat or kayak. Big Cypress Bayou and Caddo Lake have more than 50 miles of trails for paddlers. The historic East Texas town of Jefferson is a pleasant place find restaurants, accommodation, and an old-fashioned general store.
When – Visit fall, winter and spring. Summer temperatures can be extremely hot. Humidity levels are especially high in spring and summer. In spring, the lotus and lily pads are in bloom. In late fall, the foliage of the bald cypress trees turns bronze. In winter, the bare tree branches reveal amazing shapes and textures. Bring layers as boating on the water for early morning sunlight can be quite chilly. In winter, the alligators will be mostly inactive.
Photography – Bring a wide-angle lens for capturing the stunning landscapes complete with reflections. Bald cypresses are tall, long-lived trees with open crowns and upright limbs. Cypress trees are also known for their knees – woody projections that sprout above water level from the roots. Add a telephoto lens to photograph birds and other swamp creatures. You will likely be hand-holding your camera when boating. Only small craft can navigate the swamps, so travel light. For stress-free photography, hire a local guide. It is extremely easy to get lost in the swamps. Fun fact: The majority of Texas Bigfoot sightings are around Caddo Lake. Pump up the ISO and work fast! The Texas Bigfoot Research Center is in Jefferson.
Learn more – Visit tpwd.texas.gov for information on Caddo Lake State Park.