Central Louisiana will surprise you with the diversity of wildlife, rivers, bayous and scenic groves and forests. It is a place of natural beauty and one that will be your favorite RV destination. If a wildlife adventure is what you are after, here is an itinerary of spots that will fulfill your dreams when it comes to exploring our animal world and all that Louisiana can offer.
The Kisatchie National Forest is alive with flora and fauna. With more than 604,000 acres, it is spread across seven parishes in the state. This is Louisiana’s only national forest, and what a place it is! The vegetation supports many rare animal and plant species. There are also numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation. The Kisatchie Hills Wilderness is also within the forest boundaries and you can enjoy the Longleaf Scenic Byway as you drive on to your next stop.
The Evangeline Unit of the Kisatchie National Forest contains popular Kincaid Lake Recreation Area with Kincaid Lake where you can fish for sun perch, catfish and bass. RV camping is available at the Kincaid Lake Campground. They have hookups and a dump station. You will also discover a peaceful place to canoe on Valentine Lake surrounded by pines and hardwood trees. Hike the Wild Azalea Trail, which is the longest trail in Louisiana at 26 miles.
In the Vernon Unit, no visitor can pass up visiting Fullerton Lake and casting in a line to catch largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappie, catfish and many other game fish. Hiking here is also popular and you can try the Big Branch Trail and see the Longleaf Scenic Area as you go. Another favorite is the Ouiska Chitto Trail, a lovely 10-mile trail through upland forest. You will catch sight of red-cockaded woodpeckers and many other beautiful birds.
When you leave the Kisatchie National Forest, you will head directly to Grand Cote National Wildlife Refuge to the east. This is a bottomland hardwood ecosystem with a wide variety of forest wildlife. You may get a glimpse of the endangered Louisiana black bear or the endangered bald eagle, both of which live here. This is a waterfowl habitat so don’t be surprised at all the wading and shorebirds. They are attracted by the shallow wetlands.
Next stop will be north, at the Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge. This is a place that waterfowl come to winter and has over 25,000 acres divided into two separate units. The Black, Red and Ouachita Rivers seasonally flood the lowland forest, creating the perfect environment for wildlife and birds of all kinds. Have your camera handy to capture stunning images of songbirds, raptors, white-tailed deer and other animals.
Bordering Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge is the Dewey Wills Wildlife Management Area. This is another safe haven for wildlife and birds. You will see deer, raccoon, turkey, rabbits and squirrels. You’ll enjoy spotting some mink, bobcat or beaver. Just to the southeast you will find RV camping at Uncle Bud’s Cabins and RV Campground. Here you’ll be right next to Lake Larto where you can fish for catfish, white perch, bass or bream.
Now head east to Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge. This area is some of the least disturbed timber of a huge hardwood forest that used to run along the Mississippi from Illinois to Louisiana. The Louisiana black bear also ranges in this part of the state. You will also find bald eagles, osprey, peregrine falcons and Swainson’s warblers.
North again to the Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge and the fascinating landscapes of the Mississippi Delta! Discover over 400 species of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and fish. With almost 80,000 acres to explore, you will certainly add to your list of sightings as you move along. In fact, you could make history. This is where the last sighting occurred of the ivory-billed woodpecker, thought to be extinct by most scientists. Although this sighting occurred in the 1940s, you never know. A family of these supposedly extinct woodpeckers could be living somewhere in these bottomland hardwoods.
Traveling through central Louisiana with your RV rental is an experience not to miss. The outdoor recreation just adds that extra special touch, with boating, canoeing, hiking, biking and fishing. The opportunities to watch wildlife in their natural habitat is something you don’t usually get the chance to enjoy in the workaday world. You will have to come back again and take in all the other forests, bayous, rivers and swamps of Louisiana on your next vacation, too.