Beads, Bayou and Beignets

Let’s visit the Big Easy, better known as NEW Orleans…

The beginning of the new year is a great time to hop in the RV and head to New Orleans. Mardi Gras is a huge tourist draw for many first time or repeat visitors to this Louisiana city surrounded by a swampy bayou on the Mississippi River, near the Gulf of Mexico.

This year Mardi Gras is on Tuesday, February 13th. Every year Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday”, falls on a different date depending on the observance of Ash Wednesday, which begins the religious season of Lent. However, Mardi Gras is most famous for its costume parties, parades, rich foods and famous “beads” which give it more of a carnival atmosphere.

Mardi Gras mask

Mardi Gras mask

There are 70+ parades scheduled this year. So… you should be able to see a few or many, depending on your time and interests. There are even family parades that are much more low key so everyone in the family, young and old alike, can experience Mardi Gras.

MARDI GRAS parades begin in January, so if you want to avoid the most crowded time and still see some spectacular floats check out the earlier scheduled parades. The peak Mardi Gras time is the weekend prior to Fat Tuesday. This is when you will see the most elaborate floats built by different krewes. A krewe is a social organization whose main purpose is to plan, design and build a float for a Mardi Gras parade.

One cannot attend Mardi Gras without indulging in the delicious cuisine from different cultures. How about trying some sinful beignets (pastry introduced by French immigrants), gumbo (a spicy Creole stew), Po’Boy (sandwich invented to feed striking streetcar workers in 1929) or just some good old red beans and rice.

There are numerous campgrounds near the city, but plan ahead to be sure of availability during this busy tourist event.  Visit our page on Louisiana RV Campgrounds for ideas on places to camp.

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Bayou Teche RV Camping—Good Times!

An RV trip to Louisiana’s Bayou Teche is a step back into a slower-paced world. But what can you do once you’re there? Paddle your way down a national water trail or take a walking tour through a small town’s historic attractions. Learn what it means to be in the heart of Acadiana, that storied place where Cajun meets Creole along Louisiana’s cypress swamps and marshlands.

Visit a wildlife refuge to observe endangered species or bike along under massive oaks. No matter what you choose to do on your vacation, you’ll find warm, Cajun-flavored hospitality in semi-tropical surroundings.

How to Get to Bayou Teche: Franklin, LA at the south end of Bayou Teche is just two hours south of Baton Rouge via LA-70. Another way to reach this vibrant bayou in South Central Louisiana is to travel an hour south of Lafayette on US-90.

Things to Do on Bayou Teche:

  • Visit Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge: Located near Franklin on Hwy 182, the Wildlife Refuge celebrates and preserves such threatened species as the American alligator, the Louisiana Black Bear and the American Bald Eagle. Plan to spend a day hiking the trails, photographing wildlife or fishing for bream and bass from a kayak or other small craft.
  • Visit Breaux Bridge: A town filled with historic buildings, Breaux Bridge, LA is also known as the “Crawfish Capital of the World”. While on your trip, why not take the self-guided walking tour past this bayou town’s many historic homes and businesses? Be sure to try the blue crab, pecan pie and, of course, crawfish, while you’re there.
  • Take a Water Tour: Bayou Teche has been added recently to the National Water Trails System, attracting paddlers from across America. All along Bayou Teche there are access points to put in a kayak or canoe. Take off down the bayou on a guided Bayou Teche tour to find the birds, wildlife and scenery that make this part of the country so memorable.
  • Visit Lake Martin/Cypress Island Preserve, where from January to April, thousands of migratory birds come to roost. The Preserve is halfway between
    Lake Martin LA

    Lake Martin LA

    Breaux Bridge and Lafayette and features a visitor center and a levee walking trail where you can observe such species as the Green Heron and the Great Egret.

  • Travel the Bayou Teche Scenic Byway: A 125-mile collection of roadways, this Byway travels through small towns, swamplands and forests deep into Teche territory. It’s the perfect way to learn more about this unique section of American culture.

RV camping in South Central Louisiana is pleasant year-round, thanks to warm temps even in winter. RV campgrounds in Bayou Teche country range from large, improved parks in nearby cities to small, intimate water and electric sites right on the Bayou. Louisiana RV parks in towns like New Iberia and Breaux Bridge will keep you close to the Bayou and all the outdoor action.

Your trip is even easier with an rv rental, so why not get in touch today? Then get ready to relax in bayou country!

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Five Summer Food Festivals to Tempt RV Travelers

A weekend food fest is the perfect excuse to head down the road in an RV. Today’s post is a delicious concoction of food fest and camping info from five of the best summer fests. Read on for what you need to know to plan your next RV camping trip to US food festivals.

Vintage Virginia Wine & Food Festival – Centreville, VA – May 30-31

Who knows what kind of fun RV campers could get into when two dozen Virginia wineries, a cavalcade of top-notch food trucks and a whole lot of food and wine lovers converge on Bull Run Regional Park? Great food, sassy music and the best of Virginia wines are featured at this fabulous outdoor festival just down the road from Manassas Battlefield. Get your tickets here and make it a weekend to remember!

Here’s a link to Virginia RV campgrounds. El Monte RV Rentals in Manassas is happy to help with the right RV for your trip.

Great Chowder Cook-Off – Newport, RI – June 6

If you love a good cuppa chowda, Rhode Island’s world-famous chowder fest is the place for your next RV camping trip. Heated competition for the chowder crown blends with spicy local bands and fun family activities at Fort Adams State Park.

Camp near Newport and make it a long weekend as you discover the mansions, beaches and local charm that make Newport an A-1 tourist destination. 

French Market Creole Tomato Fest – New Orleans, LA – June 13-14

Did you know a tomato imported from the West Indies is at the heart of many Creole culinary treats? The Creole tomato is so important to cuisine in New Orleans that a festival is held in its honor every June! Bring the family on this weekend RV trip and let the kids play in Dutch Alley, watch cooking demonstrations and, of course, sample savory dishes featuring the star of the festival.

Louisiana RV camping venues can be found here.

Arcata Bay Oyster Festival – Arcata, CA – June 20

Here’s the chance to visit California’s magnificent Redwood Coast and enjoy boatloads of fresh oysters as a bonus! The Arcata Bay Oyster Festival celebrates the bivalves that fuel this area’s aquaculture, and it’s a whole lot of fun for oyster lovers, too. Come sample oyster creations from talented chefs, watch cooking demonstrations and get in on family-friendly festival fun.

Eight national forests nearby supply unforgettable scenery as you camp, so plan to stay awhile after the festival. Here’s a list of California campgrounds, including those in the Arcata area. Bon appetit!

Fiestas Puertorriqueñas – Chicago, IL – June 18-21

Scenic Humboldt Park is the setting for this enormous celebration of Puerto Rico and its culture, music and cuisine. Come and sample, play and people watch with thousands of festival goers and don’t miss the parade on Saturday!

Camping in the Windy City is simple—just use our guide to point you in the right direction.

There’s so much to taste, see and do this summer in cities across America! Get started now making your RV camping plans to visit food festivals. Grab your knives and forks and be sure to let us know which ones you can’t wait to visit again next year.

Posted in Food RV Vacations, Illinois RV Camping Vacation, Louisiana RV Camping Vacation, Rhode Island RV Camping Vacation, Virginia RV Camping Vacation | Leave a comment

Mardi Gras RV Camping Vacation

The parades! The jazz! The Creole and Cajun culinary delights! February 2015 is the time to travel by RV to New Orleans, Louisiana to join the non-stop celebration known as Mardi Gras. Culminating on Fat Tuesday, this legendary street party draws visitors from all over the globe. Isn’t it time you joined the crowd?

If you haven’t booked your campground and RV rental yet for Mardi Gras, there’s still time! What better way to enjoy the sights, sounds, flavors and people of New Orleans than by attending the biggest party of them all. Here’s how!

Choose Your Mardi Gras Activities

 Family Friendly Option: Bringing the kids on your Mardi Gras RV adventure and looking for family friendly activities? Why not opt for Family Gras—a free, family-centered celebration in Metairie (Jefferson Parish) just west of NOLA? From February 6 to Febuary 8, 2015, you’ll find concerts, art fairs, Mardi Gras parades and an enormous food court to keep young ones occupied all weekend long.

Mardi Gras Parades: The creative and colorful Krewes of New Orleans have presented Mardi Gras parades for decades, each with their own special style. From the magnificent Krewe of Endymion Parade to the fun-loving women of the Krewe of Iris, each procession adds unique color and excitement to Mardi Gras.  Pick the parades that suit your fancy and purchase grandstand tickets in advance for the ultimate viewing experience.

Mardi Gras Tours: Learn about the art and pageantry behind the festivities by booking tours at Mardi Gras World, where breathtaking floats and street displays are designed and built year-round. Hoping to learn even more about the city while you’re there? Schedule a New Orleans walking, Segway or bike tour led by local hosts who know the secrets of the past and the special neighborhoods of the Crescent City.

Hesitant about coming to Mardi Gras because of something you’ve seen online? Relax! There’s plenty of good-natured fun to be had beyond the French Quarter rowdiness. You’ll find families, senior citizens and locals enjoying the annual extravaganza with picnics, parade watching and non-stop sampling of the city’s many cuisines. The visual splendor provided by parading Krewes, the sound of jazz at all hours and the hospitality for which this city is famous are not-to-be-missed experiences.

 Book Your New Orleans Campsite

 Take advantage of affordable motorhome camping and save your vacation dollars for beignets, café au lait and Mardi Gras souvenirs. Book your campsite today using our handy list of Louisiana RV campgrounds. Note: campgrounds may have a minimum stay requirement during Mardi Gras due to high demand.

Mardi Gras

Don’t have an RV but love the idea of traveling and camping in motorhome comfort? Let us know when you’re going and we’ll have an RV rental ready.

Come to the party in NOLA! You’ll come home with a camera-full of spectacular vacation photos. You’ll finally understand what makes New Orleans unlike any other city in America. And you’ll do it all affordably, thanks to RV travel options. “Laissez les bon temps rouler” let the good times roll!

Picture credits:  “Mardi Gras boxes yellow” by Wikid77 – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –
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RV Camping the Cajun Coast at Louisiana’s Lake Palourde

Are you ready to explore one of Louisiana’s largest inland lakes by RV?  Then it’s time to turn your motorhome to southern Louisiana and Lake Palourde.  This scenic lake is part of an enormous collection of swamps, streams and interconnected waterways that make up the Atchafalaya Basin.

Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana

Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana

Here’s how to get there: Travel US90 about one-and-one-half hours southwest from New Orleans to Morgan City, LA.  That’s where you’ll find the best access for RV campers to Lake Palourde.  Let the city’s Lake End Park be your home base, with affordable, full-service campsites adjacent to the water.

This stunningly scenic park also boasts fishing piers, a boat launch, plenty of hiking and biking routes and a sand beach.  Be sure to make reservations before you come, so you’ll have your prime camping spot secured.

What You’ll Find While RV Camping at Lake Palourde: Here are some of the first impressions RV travelers to Lake Palourde have shared, “Spanish moss hanging low on cypress trees,” “nature at its best, right at your camper’s front door” and “fishing like nowhere else in America.”

Fishing in Louisiana

Fishing in Louisiana

So let’s talk about the fishing first—the anglers in your crew aren’t going to want to leave the water when they realize just how many crappie, catfish and bass make this lake and the area’s canals and bayous their home.  Be ready to eat some of the freshest seafood imaginable, as oysters, crayfish and crabs are also plentiful on the Atchafalaya.

There’s also something here for history buffs, nature lovers and outdoor sports enthusiasts at Lake Palourde.  Brownell Memorial Park and Carillon Tower, just a half-mile down the road from the RV campground, is a delightful place to hike the trails, watch for unusual bird species and photograph one of the world’s tallest carillon towers (if you’re lucky, you’ll get to hear the bells ring!)

Another way to savor the character of Louisiana’s inland lakes is to understand their important role in history.  Take the time to ask a local about the Civil War battle in which a much smaller Confederate force came on small boats and then on foot through the swamps to attack and conquer a large Union encampment at Fort Brashear.

But let’s not forget about the outdoor sports enthusiasts who come to the shores of Lake Palourde.  There are plenty of ways for them to spend their time, from biking along the bayous and through picturesque small towns to looking for eagles’ nests from the water along one of the Cajun Coast Paddling Trails.

A beautiful Blue Heron

A beautiful Blue Heron

Speaking of birding, sections of the America’s Wetland Birding Trail can be found throughout the Atchafalaya Basin, including at Lake Palourde.  Keep your eyes open for great blue herons, double-crested cormorants and a multitude of both common and rare birds that make Louisiana’s Cajun Coast their home.

One more suggestion for getting back to nature in America’s favorite freshwater swamp—take a swamp tour!  Local outfitters like Cajun Jack’s are happy to introduce you to the alligators, backwoods trappers and Cajun lore of the Basin.

Coming to southern Louisiana is taking a step into Cajun hospitality and untamed beauty everywhere you look.  Bring your bikes, your hiking shoes and your cameras and set up camp on the shores of Lake Palourde.  You’re going to have a hard time leaving!

We’d like to hear about your Atchafalaya adventures by RV, especially if you’ve visited Lake Palourde.  What keeps you going back?  Share your tips for fellow travelers in the comment section below.  And be sure to let us know if you need an RV rental for the trip!

El Monte RV

El Monte RV Rentals and Sales

For more information on renting or buying a motor home CLICK HERE! or call 1-888-337-2208

Photo credits: Top, Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana photo by U.S. Army Corps of Engineer, unknown [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons; middle, Fishing in Louisiana by finchlake2000, and bottom, Blue Heron by Andrea Westmoreland are are licensed under Flickr Commons
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A Winter RV Vacation in Louisiana

The natural beauty of Louisiana attracts people from all over the country – those who love the wildlife of the bayous and rivers, the scenic forests and marshes and the many miles of trails and paths.  Enjoying the diversity of landscapes is just one aspect of experiencing a Louisiana vacation.  There is also outdoor recreation that can’t be beat!  And driving an RV to this vacation destination makes the entire getaway one of ease and comfort.

Louisiana bayou

Down by the Bayou

A visit to the Kisatchie National Forest offers the opportunity to explore some of nature in its purest form.  The bayous are alive with flora and fauna and wildlife is hugely abundant.  This is the only national forest in the entire state, and most definitely worth a trip.  Within the boundaries of the forest is the Kisatchie Hills Wilderness and a scenic drive on the Longleaf Scenic Byway.  Numerous trails take you in the back country for a real wilderness experience.

Fishing is always a great vacation activity and you can catch some catfish or bass at Kincaid Lake Recreation Area.  You can camp with your RV at Kincaid Lake Campground and find shower facilities, full hookups, and a dump station.  They also have a boat dock, ramps, hiking trails, and much more.  Nearby attractions include Tunica-Biloxi Indian Museum, Louisiana Cowboy Town and Hodges Gardens.

Swimming Bass

Swimming Bass

Find some great fishing also at Fullerton Lake.  There are crappie, catfish, largemouth bass, and other game fish for you to hook.  Between fishing expeditions, you can get in some hiking.  The favorite trails are Big Branch Trail and the Ouiska Chitto Trail.  The outdoor fun in this region is something exciting for the whole family to experience.  From horseback riding and hiking, to fishing, and boating or kayaking – there is a favorite kind of fun for everyone!

Ensure you put the Grand Cote National Wildlife Refuge on your list to see.  The forest wildlife is thrilling to see, particularly if you happen across a black bear or catch a glimpse of a bald eagle soaring across the sky.  Specifically this is waterfowl habitat so you can expect to see wood ducks, mallards, teal, and plenty of geese.

Next should come the Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge, a huge refuge at 25,000 acres of lowland forest.  Regular flooding creates the ideal environment for many birds and wildlife species.  This is the perfect time of year to visit as migratory waterfowl are wintering here.  You will witness wildlife in their natural habitat such as raptors, reptiles and amphibians.  Nearby you might like to see the Dewey Wills Wildlife Management Area where raccoon, rabbits, mink, bobcat, and beaver roam.

You will never seem to be able to get enough of wildlife refuges or forest areas when in Louisiana.  Don’t leave out Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge or the Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge.  So many species of birds, fish, and mammals live in these regions, and you can add to your list of sightings as you travel through this amazing state.  An RV trip to Louisiana –  a complete adventure and one you shouldn’t pass up.

El Monte RV

El Monte RV

For information on renting an RV near Louisiana, CLICK HERE.

Picture credits:  Top photo of the bayou by Pop Top Lady and the swimming bass by Jprime84 are both licensed under Explore/Creative Attribution Commons license on Flickr Creative Commons.
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A Louisiana RV Vacation for Wildlife Lovers

A boardwalk at the Tensas River

A boardwalk at the Tensas River. Photo: Garry Tucker, USFWS.

With Spring finally here, an RV vacation can be very tempting. It might be good to get going before the summer crowds. A great place to go is Louisiana and the Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge area is protecting 80,000 acres of bottomland hardwood forest. With a wide array of flora and fauna here, it makes a wonderful destination for wildlife lovers.

The refuge is just one fragment of the beautiful Mississippi Alluvial Valley. You may not have time to count them, but believe it when we say there are more than 400 species of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and fish that live on this wildlife refuge. When you are exploring, look for the wood duck nest boxes which are intended to aid the ducks in nesting success.

You would probably give your eye teeth to spot an Ivory-billed Woodpecker. This North American woodpecker is thought to be extinct and the last sighting was very close to Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge in the 1940s. Although the chances are unlikely of seeing this unusual bird, there is plenty of other wildlife to view. The Louisiana black bear may be behind that next bush, or you may see an otter, raccoon, alligator, or wild turkey.

Enjoy the refuge to the utmost by first going to the Visitor Center where you can browse the exhibits. Walk the Boardwalk Wildlife Trail, pick up a map of the refuge and really begin your adventures. You will find plenty to keep the whole family busy here. Best of all, it is open all year. The diversity of habitat is best seen by hiking through the woods and getting up close and personal with Mother Nature and her work of art at this refuge.

Explore by boat! River paddling (PDF) is a pastime that many visitors enjoy. This is a unique way to move through the forests and see animals and birds – not to mention alligators. If you have sharp eyes you will probably catch a glimpse of one. Mostly you’ll see them on the roads. You will also find places to launch a canoe and paddle to your heart’s content. Fishing is another activity many love at Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge. Find year-round fishing on Africa Lake. You can catch largemouth bass and hook more of them as temperatures warm up.

Another lake where you will want to throw in a line is Judd Lake. Pull out your rod and reel and hook some bluegill, crappie or largemouth bass. Use grubs, maggots or frogs for bait in these waters. Big Rainey Lake means more crappie, bluegill and largemouth bass. This time your bait should consist of crickets, minnows and maggots. The above lakes are open all year for fishing. The rest of the refuge waters open on the 1st of March and stay open until the 31st of October.

Once you have your fill of nature (if that is even possible), you should head to Tallulah, Louisiana for a wide array of sights. If you love history, you will love the historic plantations and magnificent homes. Civil war buffs can tour battle sites and old encampments. Drive the scenic Bayou Drive and get the real feel of the Old South. There is RV Camping in Tallulah as well, at Hunters Bend Campground.

The Hermione House is a great place to see while in Tallulah. This museum showcases some very interesting tidbits, such as the display on the first woman millionaire in the U.S. It also exhibits artifacts from ancient Indian times all the way up to the Civil War.

Three miles north of Delhi is Poverty Point State Historic Site where you have the rare opportunity to see an exceptional culture. The earthworks here are dated back as far as 700 B.C. and estimated as having taken millions of hours of labor. You should stop in the museum for an interpretive experience. There are guided tours you can take advantage of, as well as other special events and programs. A tram tour is one of the best ways to see this amazing site.

Now that your RV vacation is coming to an end, you may be hesitant to leave. No one can blame you. This area is just too relaxing and there is just too much to do. You can always extend your time away and stay a little longer. Or just plan on returning again next year for more adventures in Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge.

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Take a Louisiana RV Trip and Visit Sabine National Wildlife Refuge

Marshlands in the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge

Marshlands in the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge

Louisiana is a great place to visit in an RV. You can drive to all sorts of out-of-the-way destinations with amazing sights to see when you arrive. A winter vacation is perfect in Louisiana because the weather is ideal for boating, hiking, bird watching and much more.

The Sabine National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Louisiana is the place to go. Established as the perfect habitat for migratory birds and waterfowl, this refuge offers the solitude and beauty of marshes, oak ridges and coastal prairie, all coming together to bring you a nature experience that will stay in memory for many years to come. Because this region is designated an “Internationally Important Bird Area,” it means that birders will find a paradise for bird watching.

Sabine National Wildlife Refuge is only one of the four federal wildlife refuges that make up the Southwest Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Others you can visit when the time is right are Cameron Prairie, Lacassine and Shell Keys Refuges. For winter habitat, these areas excel and are a welcome place of refuge for migratory waterfowl of all kinds.

On your way to the refuge, you will pass through the town of Sulphur, Louisiana. You can stop here for a visit to get a feel for the heritage of the state and enjoy some of the delicious foods served in their authentic restaurants. Make your home base at Hidden Ponds RV Park in Sulphur. They have full hookups and free WiFi as well as a pond where you can try a little fishing. Then it is only a 22-mile drive to the south to reach the Wildlife Refuge.

While you visit this unique wildlife refuge, you will get to experience the Creole Nature Trail All American Road in all its beauty. This untamed wilderness is a combination of coastal wetlands and marshes where animals and birds roam free in their native habitat. Here you can be inspired by the wonders and even cast a line into the waters to catch a variety of fish.

Do you love to go boating? You will find a boat launch at the West Cove Recreation Area that lies along Highway 27. The bayous, canals and waterways invite you out into the sun for a lot of fun. You can go crabbing here from mid-March to mid-October.

More crabbing opportunities are available at the Northline Recreation Area as well as at Blue Crab Recreation Area and Hog Gulley. This is also a great place to do some photography. Even if you are a novice, you will certainly get some wonderful shots that will speak clearly of your visions. Watch more wildlife wandering, feeding and drinking.

Check out the Visitor Center to watch some educational films and pick up some leaflets to help guide you as you head for the Wetland Walkway. Take boardwalks or trails and stop at observation decks to marvel at the freshwater marsh. Rest shelters are all along the way where you can stop for a break. This is the ideal way to end your Sabine National Wildlife Refuge RV trip before heading home.

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An RV Vacation through Central Louisiana for an Adventure with Wildlife

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.

Picture of the Sign for the Kisatchie National ForestThe 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.

Bald Cypress stand in the Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge

Bald Cypress stand in the Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge

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.

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Taking a Cajun Country RV Trip along the Old Spanish Trail

A winter getaway to warm days in Louisiana landscapes can be just the thing when you are getting chilled to the bone up north. An RV trip through Cajun Country is a treat for any family. You will drive along U.S. Highway 90 and part of the Old Spanish Trail. Besides great scenery, you will experience the flavor and heritage of the Old South, with alligators, Creoles and Cajuns welcoming you. Travel the moss-draped route of the Old Spanish Trail Scenic Byway with plenty of opportunities for tours, both self-guided and led by knowledgeable guides.

Start your adventure in Houma, LA where museums abound and wildlife is right on your doorstep. Fish the Gulf from shore or charter a service to take you out for a chance at a big fish. Dance halls and festivals bring to you Cajun history you will find no place else. See alligators and more at Wildlife Gardens. Here you can enjoy a self-guided walking tour and see all kinds of local plants and animals.

Before you leave Houma, stop by the Bayou Terrebone Waterlife Museum to get an idea of how water transport and seafood have affected the connections here with the rest of the world. Then travel on to Morgan City where you can visit more museums, go hiking or play a round of golf.

Right on the edge of Morgan City is the Atchafalaya Basin, America’s largest river swamp. There are bayous, backwater lakes and hardwood trees that form amazing forests. Take a swamp tour or hike some trails. The Bayou Teche National Wildlife Reserve is not a place to miss on your travels either. Some of the endangered or threatened species living here are the American alligator and the Louisiana black bear.

Take your RV motorhome along the Bayou Teche Scenic Byway, moving through St. Mary, Iberia and St. Martin parishes. This 125-mile side trip is well worth the time. The natural landscape will thrill and inspire. All the small communities you pass on your entire trip along the Old Spanish Trail and other side roads have been shaped by the arrival of Acadians, moving here from Nova Scotia in 1755.

When you reach New Iberia, you will want to stop at Shadows-on-the-Teche, a mansion built by a sugar planter and restored by the builder’s great grandson many years later. If you are interested in antique furniture used in this region in the 19th century, you will love touring this home. You will also see displays of Mardi Gras costumes and other local artifacts.

St. Martinville offers many interesting sights, from historic museums, lovely parks and fishing to wildlife wading in waterways thick with cattails. Check the city events schedule as there are always some festivals going on in this Louisiana town. You will find RV camping at the Catfish Heaven Aqua Farm and Campground nearby. They have plenty of amenities to make your stay a perfect Cajun experience.

Breaux Bridge, LA is the end of the line for this particular RV trip. Before heading home, stroll around the quaint streets of downtown and fill up on some fabulous Cajun food. Enjoy some Cajun music and plan your next trip to this amazing down-south region.

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