Welcome to the Bayou State where alligators are more common than Mardi Gras beads!
I recently went to Louisiana for the first time and one of the main things I really wanted to do was see alligators in the flesh!
I found that by far the best place to see alligators in Louisiana was at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve in New Orleans.
For the best chance of seeing alligators here, I’d recommend booking an airboat tour of the park as your expert guide will show you where to find alligators without fail.
In the rest of this article, I’ll reveal all of the other exact locations where you can see alligators in Louisiana so grab your swamp boots and let’s get started!
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About Alligators In Louisiana
One of the coolest things to do in Louisiana is to go and see the Louisiana alligators in the wild.
There are estimated to be more than 1 million alligators in Louisiana which makes it the largest population of American alligators in the whole world.
The alligators found here are American alligators which are native to the southeastern US. They live in ponds, lakes, canals, rivers, swamps and bayous.
Best Places To See Alligators In New Orleans
Here’s exactly where you can find alligators in New Orleans (or close by).
(I cover other areas in Louisiana later in the post)
1. Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
I personally think that the best place in New Orleans to see alligators is at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve.
This huge preserve is made up of six sites and protects the natural area that surrounds the Mississippi Delta.
In some areas of the preserve you can also get out onto the water. I’d recommend booking onto an airboat tour for the best chance of seeing alligators.
This is the tour that I did when I visited and I had the best time. I saw at least 15 alligators as we sped around the swamps.
I also got to see a range of other interesting animals including turtles, snakes and herons.
You should head over to the Barataria Preserve (one of the sites that forms part of the preserve) for the best chance of seeing alligators.
The best way to spot alligators at the Barataria Preserve is by walking along the boardwalk that crosses the swamp or by taking a stroll along one of the preserve’s many dirt trails.
This 26,000-acre area includes swamps, marshes, bayous, and forest areas.
- Airboat Tour Around The Preserve (small group sizes)
Check out some of the alligators of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve in the video below:
2. Honey Island Swamp
Located in St. Tammany Parish near New Orleans, Honey Island Swamp is a pristine and natural swamp that stretches over 70,000 acres.
The Honey Island Swamp is home to alligators as well as a range of other animals including turtles, snakes, bears and plenty of birds.
The swamp is also allegedly home to the legendary Swamp Monster, an ape-like creature covered in gray hair with yellow eyes.
I wasn’t lucky enough to spot the Swamp Monster myself but you should definitely keep your eyes peeled for this legend.
The best way to spot alligators in Honey Island Swamp is by joining a boat tour. This is the boat tour that I did and I really enjoyed it.
I got some incredible close-up views of the alligators and heard all about the swamp legends from our expert guide.
You can see some of the alligators of Honey Island Swamp in the video below:
3. Manchac Swamp
Manchac Swamp, just a short drive from New Orleans, features stunning landscapes including cypress trees, birds, alligators and slow-moving currents.
One of the most popular ways to spot alligators is to head out on a kayaking tour. You’ll spot lots of wildlife including alligators birds, turtles and frogs.
Manchac Swamp is also known as the ‘swamp of the ghosts’ as it is supposedly haunted by a blood-sucking Rougarou (a Cajun version of a werewolf) and a voodoo priestess.
I will say that I didn’t see anything spooky myself but who knows right!?
4. Maurepas Swamp
This swamp is a large biodiverse 122,000-acre protected area that is known to be a hot spot for alligators.
You’ll also find lots of other animals here such as herons, bald eagles, owls, deer, pigs and turtles.
The best way to see alligators here is by joining a kayak or boat tour when you arrive.
You’ll glide along the river, paddling through the narrow passageways surrounded by trees draped with Spanish moss.
5. New Orleans City Park
Another one of the best places in New Orleans where you can see alligators is at New Orleans City Park.
City Park is a 1,300-acre expansive outdoor space located in central New Orleans. It features a botanical garden, an art museum, golf course and so much more.
The park is also full of lagoons and waterways and within these you will often be able to spot an alligator or two. I was lucky enough to spot 3 alligators whilst exploring the park.
Generally, the alligators found in City Park are on the smaller side as the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will relocate larger ones for safety reasons.
For the best chance of spotting an alligator, head to the area north of Interstate 610 as the park tends to remove any alligators found south of Interstate 610.
Check out the video below of an alligator spotted in New Orleans City Park:
6. Audubon Zoo
If you love alligators then you should definitely have Audubon Zoo on your list of places to visit.
This zoo and aquarium in New Orleans is one of the only places where you can see a rare albino alligator. There are actually only a few of these in Louisiana.
These white alligators are super rare so it’s worth stopping by at Audubon Zoo to see one in the flesh.
The zoo also has plenty of regular alligators, including some impressively large ones that you can see close-up.
You can see a white alligator at Audubon Zoo in the video below:
Where Else Can You See Alligators In Louisiana?
Outside of New Orleans there’s still plenty of places where you can see alligators in the wild.
I’ve listed all the best places where you can see alligators in Louisiana below.
7. Lake Martin
The Cypress Island Nature Preserve at Lake Martin features a swampy ecosystem that is home to a variety of wildlife including nesting waterbirds, snakes, turtles, lizards and a substantial population of alligators.
The alligators can typically be spotted from Rookery Road which runs along the edge of the lake. I saw several alligators here just relaxing in the lake.
One of the best ways to see the alligators at Lake Martin is by joining a boat tour in the area.
You’ll get the best view of the alligators and be able to learn more about them from your experienced guide.
Check out the huge alligator spotted at Lake Martin in the video below:
8. Atchafalaya River Basin
The Atchafalaya River Basin, located in south central Louisiana, is a vast area of natural wetlands. It also serves as a river delta where the Atchafalaya River and the Gulf of Mexico converge.
This huge area encompasses 860,000 acres of swamps and lakes, making it one of the best places to see alligators in Louisiana.
The Atchafalaya River Basin has a large population of alligators that are commonly seen by visitors.
Many boat and kayaking tours set out from the town of Henderson and venture out into the basin. This is the best way to get up-close and personal with the alligators.
9. The Creole Nature Trail
Another fantastic way to see alligators in Louisiana is by driving along the Creole Nature Trail.
Driving the Creole Nature Trail is the best way to see Louisiana alligators in the wild without having to go trudging through swamps and marshes.
The Creole Nature Trail is a 180-mile scenic drive that traverses the wilderness of Louisiana. The trail crosses 4 different wildlife refuges.
Visitors can often spot alligators sunbathing just a few feet away from the road during the warmer summer months.
The Creole Nature Trail gives visitors a chance to experience stunning nature up close all from the comfort of their own cars.
You’ll see untouched wetlands, sandy ridges, oak trees, marshes and coastal shores along this epic route.
You can see some of the alligators found on the Creole Nature Trail in the video below:
10. Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge
The Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge is one of the wildlife refuges that forms part of the Creole Nature Trail. It is located in the southwestern part of Louisiana on the Gulf Coast.
This large area of marshland is home to the most abundant alligator populations along the Creole Nature Trail.
It is a popular spot for fishing and crabbing. Alligator sightings are also super common here.
The Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge is also well-known for its pioneering research into alligators.
11. University of Louisiana
You can often spot alligators when taking a stroll through the university’s campus.
In the center of the campus, just behind the Student’s Union, is a swamp-like lake that is home to several alligators.
Cypress Lake, locally referred to as ‘the swamp’, has become a bit of a tourist attraction in Lafayette.
The university states that co-existing alongside alligators is part of life at the university and they take care to ensure the alligator population remains undisturbed.
Vermilionville sits on a glorious tree-covered site on the banks of the Bayou Vermilion right in the heart of Lafayette.
You’ll find a lake here that has a resident population of alligators in it.
You’ll often see them soaking up the sun on the Vermilionville Living History Museum grounds on a sunny day.
You could also take a boat ride through the Bayou Vermilion for up-close views of these incredible animals.
Best Time Of Year To See Alligators
The best time to see alligators in Louisiana is in the summer from March until September.
As alligators are cold-blooded reptiles, they rely on the surrounding environment to keep their bodies warm.
This means that they don’t like the cold so it will be much harder to see them in the wild during the winter months.
In the winter, they tend to feed less and often hide in holes underground and remain dormant.
You’re more likely to see them on sunny days as they often lie by the riverbanks soaking up the sun on hot days.
Did you know you can also see alligators in Mississippi?
Alligator Safety Tips
As most of the alligators found in Louisiana are wild alligators, you should bear in mind these tips to keep you safe.
Alligator Safety Tips:
- You shouldn’t feed the alligators.
- You should keep 30 feet (10 meters) away from the alligators at all times.
- Avoid swimming near the alligators especially at night, dusk or dawn.
- Do not let children or pets play alone close to the water.
It’s also good to know that humans are very rarely ever attacked by alligators. The alligators will usually only try to hurt you if you harass them.
And that’s it!
Thanks for reading this post on where to see alligators in Louisiana. I hope it’s inspired you to go out and have your own alligator adventure!
Wherever you are in Louisiana, there’s plenty of options here to see alligators in their natural habitat in New Orleans, Lafayette and more.