Journey Through Louisiana’s Historical Wilderness
Encompassing a vast swath of Louisiana wilderness, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve is a place unlike any other in North America. The park preserves the unique heritage of the Cajun people, as well as an untamed maze of land and water that makes up the Mississippi Delta. Every visit brings new possibilities for adventure.
A storied history
In true Louisiana fashion, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve is named after a pirate. Jean Lafitte was a French privateer who robbed merchant ships all over the Gulf of Mexico in the early 19th century, and was later instrumental in helping Andrew Jackson's forces defend New Orleans during the final battle of the War of 1812. His namesake park was established in 1978, with the aim of preserving the rich culture and natural resources of southern Louisiana.
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve consists of six separate sites scattered across the state. Each has its own unique character and mission:
- Acadian Culture Center: The historic home of the Acadian (Cajun) people who settled in southeast Louisiana, located in Lafayette.
- Barataria Preserve: A 23,000-acre Louisiana wetland, in Marrero.
- Chalmette Battlefield and Chalmette National Cemetery: The site of the War of 1812's Battle of New Orleans, in Chalmette.
- French Quarter Visitor Center: A tribute to the influences that shaped one of America's great cities, located in New Orleans.
- Prairie Acadian Cultural Center: Home to the prairie Acadian people, in Eunice.
- Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center: A history-filled section of Louisiana's bayou country, in Thibodaux.
Lots to see and do
You could spend a lifetime exploring every corner of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, but even if you have just a day or an afternoon to spend, you can count on a memorable experience. Opportunities to learn, explore, and have fun are nearly endless, including:
- Hiking, bird-watching, ranger-guided walks, Junior Ranger programs for kids, and hands-on displays at the Barataria Preserve
- Talks, tours, and Battle of New Orleans reenactments at Chalmette Battlefield
- Acadian music, dancing, craft demonstrations, and the "Cajun Grand Ole Opry" on Saturday nights at the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center
- Guided history walks, bayou boat tours, and free jam sessions with local musicians at the Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center
Overnight accommodations are not available in the park, but several nearby Louisiana state parks offer camping. Be sure to check out the events calendar for each site to find out about upcoming events, programs, and exhibits.
When you visit Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, you're just a short drive away from several other national parks in Louisiana. New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park celebrates the unique musical heritage of New Orleans, while Cane River Creole National Historical Park tells the story of the farmers, immigrants, slaves, and Native Americans who shaped Louisiana's Cane River region. Both are well worth a detour.
A visit to Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve is like taking a step back in time. Each of the park's six distinct sites offers something different — a chance to walk in the footsteps of the pirates who once plundered the coast, to learn Cajun traditions from those who live them, and to explore an captivating slice of true bayou wilderness.