As the GRR approaches its southern end, land and river begin to merge. With giant levees on one side and standing water on the other, it’s easy to imagine the land is sinking—and indeed, by the time you roll off elevated I-10 into New Orleans, you will be a few feet below sea level.
From the St. Francisville ferry to the interstate bridge just west of New Orleans, the GRR crosses the Mississippi four times, threading along rough back roads past a series of fine antebellum homes along what’s sometimes called Plantation Alley. The GRR also runs among a barrage of industrial giants, which have toxic discharges that have earned the region another sobriquet: Chemical Corridor.
The Great River Road through Louisiana is not without its charms—a vividly painted church out in a field, or wrought-iron gates framing exquisitely gnarled live oaks festooned with Spanish moss—but these are often overshadowed by the specter of slavery and the present-day reality of a land being poisoned for profit.
Highlights of the GRR in Louisiana
- Baton Rouge: Visit the Old State Capitol or brush up on local history at the Rural Life Museum
- Cajun Country: This area of Louisiana offers historic architecture, moss-covered monuments, and abundant wildlife
- New Orleans: Explore the wrought-iron balconies on picturesque brick buildings in the French Quarter and feast on Creole and Cajun eats