Off the Beaten Path: Calcasieu Parish
Located near warm Gulf waters, the area around Lake Charles has a plethora of beautiful gifts of nature. The natural breath-taking beauty beckons those who know and love the area back time after time.
Visitors to the area can experience a bit of the wonder for themselves as they explore the Creole Nature Trail. This network of scenic highways and walking paths winds through 180 miles of marsh, bayou, and shoreline. It has been called “Louisiana’s Outback” for its plentiful wildlife and untamed beauty. The area is excellent for fishing and crabbing. You can also experience alligators, over 400 species of birds, and a wide variety of other wildlife in the marshlands. Explore the twenty-six miles of natural Gulf Beaches, Cajun culture, and much more.
The Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge, located along the trail, opens more than 9,600 acres of marsh and prairie to the public and includes a visitor center, exhibits, and a car tour through its grounds. The many fishing charters and lodges speak to a robust outdoors culture.
If you’re looking to get up close and personal with one of Louisiana’s most notorious creatures -- the alligator -- look no further. Visit the Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau, just east of the I-10 Bridge between Lake Charles and Westlake.
Check out the live gator pond while you’re there, you can even hold a baby alligator...if you dare!
Need a place to cozy up for the night? Visit the gorgeous landscape of Sam Houston State Park. The park is abundant in natural opportunities for hiking, fishing, and camping. You can choose to “rough it” in a tent or take advantage of the cabins. The cabin amenities include separate bedroom and living areas, fully equipped kitchens, and central air to keep you out of the summer heat. While staying at the cabins, you’ll step out of the front door and into the plush Louisiana landscape alongside two lagoons. There are also deer and ducks to keep you entertained and amazed.
While traveling with children in the area, don’t miss out on one of the area’s best kept secrets, SPAR waterpark. Located in Sulphur, Louisiana, this kid-friendly attraction is sure to bump up your leisure time activities to a whole new level of fun! With all types of water slides, a lazy river, the Parrot Island, the Lagoon, and much more, there is something for every age.
Shed the stress and worry of everyday life and slip away to the beauty of nature in South Louisiana.
By Kandice Dequeant, a freelance journalist living in Lafayette