Not everything is how it's portrayed on TV and everything that we see on the History Channel about swamps should probably be discarded at this moment. While they can be stinky, damp, mosquito-infested marshlands, they can also be sacred spaces of serenity and tranquil scenery. Don't believe us? We've got the photos -- and the deets -- for proof.
The US is home to some pretty incredible wetlands, many of which are reptilian breeding grounds, home to various species of birds and fish, and are what keep our ecosystem healthy and thriving. Swamps do a lot more than give off foul scents and house murky water, and some can even be totally Instagram-worthy.
10 The Dismal Swamp In Virginia
Everyone has heard of the Dismal Swamp but it's not exactly a bucket list location. While it is known for seeming like a place you'd never want to hang around, it has so much to offer than a typical swamp stench and wetlands. This expansive swamp hides within it a lake, one of only two natural formations in the state of Virginia. Additionally, visitors can explore 112,000 acres of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, where they'll likely come face to face with the creatures who call these marshlands home.
9 The Congaree Bottomlands In South Carolina
Surprisingly, this swamp is home to some extraordinarily large trees. That's right... there's more to see than just murky water in the Congaree Bottomlands. With trees that tower well over one-hundred feet, this swamp is truly picture-worthy. If trees aren't your thing, this part also offers campgrounds not far from the Congaree River, which also allows paddling. For a day trip, the hiking trails through the swamp are simply gorgeous on a nice day and visitors can soak up all that this South Carolina marshland has to offer.
8 The Four Holes Swamp In South Carolina
Not too far from the Congaree River lies the Four Holes Swamp. This is more for the adventurous bunch; the swamp is home to all types of species including alligator, cottonmouth snakes, and anoles. Not to worry, though... The park has constructed a series of boardwalks so visitors won't need to walk in marshland grass. This blackwater swamp offers all the excitement one needs for a day trip and is considered the most 'awe-inspiring' of any swamp in the country.
For those who are even bolder, reservations for kayaking or canoeing can also be made.
7 The Okefenokee Swamp In Florida And Georgia
This swamp can be explored through the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge which spans roughly 700 miles between Florida and Georgia. This swamp does give way to a sandy shore which isn't something many expect, especially in a swamp this vast. This shoreline gives way to the Suwanee River which flows from the Atlantic all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. Many say that it's not surprising to spend a day here and see an alligator, if not more than one, and occasionally run into a swamp black bear.
6 The Atchafalaya Swamp In Louisiana
The Atchafalaya Swamp is massive, spanning roughly 900,000 acres across Louisiana. It's considered to be the largest river-hugging swamp in the country, making it quite the destination for nature-lovers. Visitors can explore these vast wetlands via the Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge, where they're bound to come into contact with some of the swamp's most famous wildlife. Visitors have even been known to spot a black bear in the swamp, though it is rare. There's plenty to explore here, though, so it's best to make a day out of it.
5 The Alakai Plateau In Hawaii
Not all swamps are found in the southern part of the country and this one happens to be completely off-shore. The Alakai Plateau can be found in Hawaii and though it's not technically considered a 'swamp' by technical definition, it does give the illusion of one. This high-altitude cloud forest is one of the wettest places on earth, giving it quite the soggy reputation. It's rare that this swamp-like forest will see a day without fog or mist, as the constant rain and damp atmosphere makes that tricky. Visitors are not encouraged to wander aimlessly in these easily disorienting woodlands but can check out some of it via the Kokee State Park.
4 The Honey Island Swamp In Louisiana
The Honey Island Swamp is a good place to start for those who are new to exploring marshlands. While it's not as large as some of the others on this list, it still offers that peaceful, serene environment that swamps are known for providing. Additionally, newcomers can take guided tours of the swamp which will make navigation far easier than if you were to attempt to hoof it on your own. This swamp is virtually untouched and includes just over 20 miles of flawless wetlands. It's also fairly wide, coming in at about seven miles across.
3 Caddo Lake In Louisiana And Texas
Many flock to Caddo Lake for one reason alone: To photograph its vast expanse of cypress forests. For the avid boater, this swamp is also open to visitors who would rather scope out the wildlife from the water. Caddo Lake State Park is open to anyone and provides a great opportunity for those who are drawn by natural swamp elements, from wildlife to marshlands and everything in between. For the record, it is among some of the largest flooded wetlands in the country, making it a popular one to visit.
2 Lake Martin In Louisiana
While visiting New Orleans, Lake Martin is an easy enough location to add to any itinerary. It lies roughly two hours outside of the city and is well worth the detour. The lake itself is gorgeous but its wetlands don't disappoint, either. Visitors have the option to explore this swamp two different ways: By hoofing it on foot or taking a boat to the water and navigating its waterways. Either option offers stunning views of all Lake Martin has to offer and it's a popular spot for local photographers to indulge in nature photography.
1 Barataria Preserve In Louisiana
Barataria Preserve is a great option for those who aren't too keen on getting down and dirty when it comes to swamp exploration. While many swamps require boating or hiking on trails for navigation, Barataria Preserve has boardwalks that are specifically built for walking tours. All visitors need to do is follow the footbridges that will lead them around the swamp and they'll be subject to a stunning array of swampland flora and fauna. The Preserve is part of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve, which offers even more in the way of swampland education.