For us, Louisiana was one of our favorite states to visit! In particular, we were struck by the kind and quirky people, who all seemed authentically interested in our story. Never once did we meet someone who didn’t ask, “where y’all coming from?” And the food more than lived up to expectation! Of the ten times or so that we’ve eaten out on this journey, two of them were in Louisiana because who can’t resist boudin balls, etouffee, and poboys!?
Now sit down a spell and enjoy our sojourn through this marshy state…
On our first day, we arrived to Louisiana via the Sabine National Forest in eastern Texas, where we set up camp at the Willow Oak Campground so we could enjoy the Sabine River Watershed with our kayaks.
We paddled a fairly hard and windy 10 mile day out and back to the only trail in the park, the Trail Between the Lakes, for a brief marshy hike before returning to camp for the night, with incredible sunset views over the lake!
On our second day, we drove to Natchitoches (pronounced knock-i-toesh), considered the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase. Here, we first visited the Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery, which hosts a free museum for visitors.
Next, we drove further south to visit the Oakland Plantation, one of the two historic areas that form the Cane River Creole National Historical Park. While we generally have mixed feelings visiting such a place, home to over 140 slaves, we know it is important to recognize the dark parts of our history.
One interesting thing about this particularly plantation house is that the family lived here until the 1990s, so the home has been updated several times over the years and serves as a bit of a style and architectural time capsule. Also, it’s free to visit!
That night we boondocked in the Kisatchie National Forest close to a few ATV trails that we explored on foot. We also met some delightful cajun hunters and their dog!
On our third day, we continued south towards Lafayette, stopping first at Chicot State Park, which also provides access to the Louisiana State Arboretum. Here, we enjoyed a lovely trail run through the swamp through Cypress trees along boardwalks.
That afternoon, we had arranged to stay at the Vermilionville Historic Village, which allows boondocking, so we set up camp next to their delightful pond and went for a tour of the village.
We highly recommend this tour for it’s overview of Acadian culture as well as the ample constumed and informative staff posted throughout the property.
That evening, we had to take the car for an oil change, so decided to treat ourselves to an authentic Louisiana meal while we waited. We had been wanting to try boudin balls!
On our fourth day, it was RAINING! So, we opted for a few indoor activities to give us a break from driving the bumpy ill-kept Louisiana roads in the downpour.
First we stopped at the Tabasco Museum and Jungle Gardens. It was too wet to enjoy the gardens, so we opted to just partake in the tour of the museum, and it was well worth the $5 entry, especially since they give you a bag full of samples and the gift shop has so many more samples to try!
Next, we stopped in Lockport to visit the Center for Traditional Louisiana Boat Building. We have NEVER enjoyed a small museum more – mostly because the volunteer hostess was such a delightful personality. She sped us through the museum at a quick and informative pace that revealed her true delight in Louisiana boats, motherly referring to almost every one as “sweet” as though they were her babies.
That night we had planned to drive all the way to Grand Isle, but feared the rain and wind, so stopped at an RV park/gas station/casino in Cut Off, LA instead.
On our fifth day, we left our camper at the RV park and drove south through the Mississippi delta to explore Grand Isle State Park. We had really wanted to kayak to Fort Livingston, but the wind and waves were dangerously high, so we reconciled ourselves to a beach run!
As a reward for our run, we also stopped at a local haunt for some authentic oyster and crab poboys!
That night, we picked up the camper and drove on to Bayou Segnette State Park to camp for the night. We really recommend this stop if you’re going to be in the New Orleans area. It’s only 30 minutes to NOLA and they offer FREE LAUNDRY! We did NOT go into New Orleans, mostly because we’ve already been there often and chose to spend our time with other endeavors.
On our sixth day, we visited the neighboring Barataria Preserve for a trail run along their boardwalk paths through the swamp.
After our run, we stopped in the visitor center with delightful interactive exhibits.
On our way out of town, we stopped at the Bonnett Carre Spillway Trail for a soggy wet hike before driving on towards Baton Rouge.
Once in town, we stopped at the Hilltop Arboretum, for a quick jaunt and education about local trees.
We ended the day dry camping at Farr Park, right on the Mississippi River.
Next, we headed north of town to explore the Comite Park Trails, which are really designed for off-road biking. We considered biking, but didn’t want to deal with muddy bikes, so we hiked!
That afternoon, we crossed the border into Mississippi and into the Homochitto National Forest, where we spent our first night in Mississippi! Please stay tuned for our updates as the journey continues!