Two years ago we traveled through the Mississippi Delta area of Arkansas and fell in love with the area. So naturally when we began planning our trip to Oxford we decided to cross the Mississippi River into Arkansas and return to two of the places we enjoyed back then. When we told our friends we were going to Mississippi by way of Arkansas they looked at us like we were crazy.
Our first stop in Arkansas was Lake Chicot State Park. I posted about our first visit here. After a long day driving through part of Alabama and all across the state of Mississippi, we crossed the Mississippi River into Arkansas and arrived at the campground hot and tired.
We got set up in time to watch a beautiful sunset over Lake Chicot.
The lake was beautiful in the early mornings.
Lake Chicot is the largest natural lake in Arkansas and the largest natural oxbow lake in the United States. It is a popular fishing destination and many varieties of birds can be seen here.
On our first visit here we had our first taste of delicious Mississippi Delta hot tamales so of course getting some more was on the top of our to do list. One day we took a drive back across the Mississippi River to Greenville, Mississippi to pick up three dozen hot tamales to go from Doe’s Eat Place. We were in heaven as we ate some of those spicy tamales for dinner. The rest are in our freezer to take home. I posted about our first visit to Doe’s Eat Place here.
One day we took a self guided driving tour along the levee which runs along the Mississippi River to protect the area from flooding. A gravel road runs on top of the levee and the scenery changes from borrow pits to farms to woods as you go along.
Cotton is the number one crop in this part of the Mississippi Delta and we passed many fields on both sides of the river. Soybeans and sorghum are also big crops in the area.
Next up: A return to another favorite Arkansas State Park in the Mississippi Delta with some scenic drives, a museum, and award winning barbecue.
We enjoyed walking around the marina and going on the nature trail at Stephen C. Foster State Park in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge but we wanted to be in a boat to really experience the swamp. On one of our visits a few years ago we rented a canoe to paddle into the swamp and another time we rented a boat to venture even farther into the swamp. On our most recent trip in early spring we decided to take a ranger guided boat tour.
As we glided through the man made canal our guide pointed out the baby alligators and their mother Sophie who was keeping a close watch on her babies. Her mate Zeke was no where to be found.
As the boat exited the canal we entered the big water of Billy’s Lake where we were about six miles from the headwaters of the Suwanee River. The water here gets up to six feet deep, much deeper than the average depth of two feet.
It was a beautiful day to be on the water and we saw a few other people out on the water.
Our guide took us through the narrow waterway toward Minnie’s Lake. In some places the water was barely wide enough for the 24 foot Carolina Skiff. As we ventured farther into the swamp it was as if we had stepped back in time to a prehistoric age. We were miles from civilization in this incredibly wild place.
It is estimated that the alligator population in the swamp is about 20,000. We saw quite a few as we went along. It was mating season and I wondered if this gator was trying to attract a mate.
Another gator was behind a huge cypress tree.
And there were young ones sunning on a log.
There are many species of wildlife besides alligators. While we didn’t see any raccoons, opossums, turtles, or bears, we did see a few birds out searching for food.
After our incredible few days in the Okefenokee it was time to return back to civilization and the real world.
We continued exploring the Mississippi Delta at Lake Chicot State Park in Lake Village, Arkansas. Traveling south on Highway 165, a section of the Great River Road, we passed fields of cotton on both sides of the road.
The largest natural lake in Arkansas, Lake Chicot is also the largest natural oxbow lake in the United States. Our campsite was surrounded by wild pecan trees with a nice view of the lake. Our first day there, we drove across the mighty Mississipi River to Greenville, Mississippi to bring home 3 dozen delicious hot tamales.
Cypress Trees on Lake Chicot
This little raccoon is much cuter than the ones at home
Sunset at Lake Chicot
Sunset at Lake Chicot
Located in the Mississippi Flyway, the park is a great place for bird watching. In addition to egrets, herons and ducks, we were surprised to see a huge flock of White Peliicans on the lake.
White Pelican flies by blue heron over Lake Chicot
White Pelican on Lake Chicot
Far at the other end of the lake we saw this huge flock of white pelicans
We took a self guided driving tour along the Mississippi River levee. Most of the 20 mile tour was right on top of the levee. On one side of the levee were borrow pits with cypress trees, lily pads and many birds. On the other side was farmland.
Egret in the tree on the levee tour
Borrow Pit beside the levee
When traveling the backroads, you never know what you’ll see crossing the road
Cypress Trees beside the levee
We camped at Lake Chicot State Park in site 7 on October 21-22, 2014. For my review of this campground click here.