Bayous and Swamps: Where are they commonly found?

This is an interactive map of waterbodies from the continental United States. It shows the locations of bodies named Bayou or Swamp. For names and types hover over the map. Zoom in to see all water bodies in detail.
Bayous Swamps Other Water Bodies


This map was inspired in my experiences as a Graduate Student in the South. I knew about the swamps in the area, but the Bayous were a completely novel term. Later I lived in Bayou City (Houston). Which highlighed the importance of the term in the South. As other wetlands, they are important features in the landscape that provide numerous beneficial services for people and for fish and wildlife" (EPA).This iconic feature of the South that has been ubiquitous in my American trips, and deserved a chart of its own. Furthermore, it needed to be visualized next to swamps, to see the pattern of their distribution.

The definition for Bayous from the National Geographic Encyclopedia states that "A bayou is a slow-moving creek or a swampy section of a river or a lake. They are usually found in flat areas where water collects in pools. Bayous are often associated with the southeastern part of the United States. Bayous are usually shallow and sometimes heavily wooded. They can be freshwater, saltwater, or a combination of both."

I thought Bayou was a French/Creole term. But it "originated from the Choctaw word “bayok”, which refers to a small stream. The current spelling of the word comes from the Louisiana French variation of the word “bayouque.”see Facts about Louisiana Bayous.


The shapes of the Bayous and Swamps are determined by the polygons that surround their areas. Since the size of most water bodes are too small in comparison with the size of the United States, their edges have been modified and enhanced to be visible. This is why they look like odd geometric shapes.

The Shapefiles for this map were downloaded from USA Water Bodies. The code was obtained and altered from Let's make a map.

Null names correspond to water bodies who's presence is established but the file did not have an assigned name.

Made by Luz K. Molinawith D3.js.

map of swamps and bayous of USA