Outdoor activities at every turn in Louisiana

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Louisiana has 400 miles of coastline on one of North America’s richest fisheries, the Gulf of Mexico—actually, more than 7,700 miles if you include coastal inlets. Inland, about 15 percent of Louisiana’s 52,000 square-mile area is water—more than 1,000 lakes, reservoirs, ponds and other bodies of water, and more than 5,000 square miles of swamp and marsh wetlands.

Abutting the Gulf coast is the 838,000-acre Atchafalaya National Heritage Area, a massive alligator-infested river/swamp ecosystem which is considered one of America’s last wildernesses. Its sister to the north is Kisatchie National Forest, a 604,000-acre hilly mix of pine and lowland hardwoods pierced by 355 miles of multi-purpose trails.

Louisiana has a reputation as a haven for fishermen and duck and game hunters. The state’s position within a major North American migratory flyway means great birding throughout the year. Louisiana’s diverse topography caters to biking and hiking, and its subtropical climate means warm, “get outside” weather most of the year.

No wonder Louisiana’s nickname is Sportsman’s Paradise.

While the state enjoys a world-renowned reputation for incredible Cajun and Creole cuisine and indigenous music such as jazz and zydeco, the list of outdoor experiences in Louisiana is seemingly endless and diverse, catering to the experienced and novice adventure seeker alike.

  • Like Atchafalaya, the Barataria Preserve is a 20,000-acre swamp filled with alligators but Barataria is more easily explored, thanks to 9 miles of paved and boardwalk paths and a location that’s less than a 30-minute drive from downtown New Orleans.
  • The Creole Nature Trail is a 180-mile journey through the coastal marshes down to the Gulf of Mexico south of Lake Charles. The trail hosts more than a rich alligator population—it also welcomes 400 species of native and migratory raptors, waterfowl, wading birds and shorebirds each year.
  • Louisiana has 22 state parks and each has access to a body of water for fishing and recreation—sitting on lakes, rivers, bayous (slow moving streams) or the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Lincoln Parish Park in Ruston boasts some of the most challenging off-road cycling in the South.
  • St. Mary Parish’s Cajun Coast Paddling Trails include 12 marked water paths totaling nearly 200 miles through 170,000 acres of designated wildlife management areas that National Geographic describes as “hauntingly beautiful land.”
  • All nine Louisiana parishes (counties) that border the Gulf of Mexico and its robust roster of saltwater fish have charter operators, and Louisiana fishing licenses are available for as little as one day.

A wealth of resources to plan a Louisiana outdoors getaway is at visitors’ fingertips. The Louisiana Office of Tourism encourages you to begin your exploration at BikeLouisiana.com; LouisianaPaddle.com; fishing.louisianatravel.com or LaStateParks.com.

And for more outdoor opportunities and the indoor activities that complete the true and total Louisiana experience, visit LouisianaTravel.com.