What Are the Major Bodies of Water in Louisiana?


There are a number of bodies of water that can be found in and around the state of Louisiana. While it is well known for the Gulf of Mexico to its south, Louisiana also contains numerous lakes and rivers. Fishing is a year-round activity in Louisiana, and its wetlands offer a variety of captivating sights and sounds for birdwatchers and other nature enthusiasts. Some of the major bodies of water in Louisiana include the Mississippi River, Caddo Lake, Lake Pontchartrain (and Lake Maurepas, a connecting lake), the Toledo Bend Reservoir and Cross Lake.

Mississippi River

In addition to being beneficial for commercial interests, the Mississippi River also affects Louisiana through shaping its coastal geography. The coastline of Louisiana was essentially created through the Mississippi River’s depositing of sediments, which has been an ongoing process for more than 5,000 years. Many lakes, sounds, and bays along the Louisiana coastline are leftovers of the Mississippi’s many deltaic cycles, each of which involved new streams breaking off the main river to find shorter routes to the Gulf of Mexico.

Caddo Lake

Caddo Lake is the largest naturally occurring freshwater lake in the southern United States. It borders on Louisiana and Texas. The lake is actually a series of interconnected bodies of water characterized by bayous (marshy outlets), sloughs (swamps), oxbows (U-shaped bends), islands and channels. Caddo Lake is also known for its thickets of cypress trees, some of which are between 250 and 400 years old.

Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas

Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain is technically an estuary, due to its open connection to the Gulf of Mexico. While the majority of the body of water is surrounded by land, one side is a marsh that feeds into the sea. Lake Maurepas is a freshwater lake that links to Lake Pontchartrain via Pass Manchac, a connecting waterway. The Mississippi River also connects with Lake Pontchartrain by way of the New Orleans’ Industrial Canal.

Toledo Bend Reservoir

The Toledo Bend Reservoir is the largest man-made body of water in the southern United States. It sits on the Sabine River between Louisiana and Texas, and stretches for 65 miles, occupying 1,200 miles of shoreline. It is characterized by coves and shallow bayous, and displays numerous varieties of wildflowers along its shores.

Cross Lake

Cross Lake is a 8,575-acre reservoir that supplies water to Shreveport, a city in northwest Louisiana. The lake is a popular boating and fishing attraction, and is well known for its bass, catfish, bluegill, red ear sunfish and white perch. It was constructed in 1926 as part of the Cross Lake Dam and Spillway project.

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