Wide-trunked cypress trees lure photographers, boaters and nature lovers of all stripes to Lake Bistineau State Park, located a short half-hour drive from Shreveport and Bossier City. If you want to see north Louisiana’s pristine wetlands at their wildest, this is the place to be.
This is a park awash in history. In 1800, thousands of acres of what would become Lake Bistineau were clogged by a massive logjam. Once freed, the rising waters were tamed with the construction of an actual dam, which carved out inlets that today make for some prime freshwater fishing.
You can explore these waters even if you don’t bring your own boat. Rent flat-bottom boats, canoes and kayaks for as little as $5. Paddle out to Sandy Island, Snake Island or any of the other half-dozen islands, and keep any eye out for the plentiful wildlife along the shorelines.
On the mainland you’ll find 10 miles of hiking trails and a waterfront disc golf course. A recently constructed system of equestrian trails has made this a destination for horseback riders, and — bonus — Lake Bistineau State Park offers stalls, a paddock and corral for overnight visitors and their horses, free of charge.
Guests have their choice of bedding options. Seven deluxe cabins are on-site and can sleep up to eight. Two larger group camps can accommodate up to 48 and 160 people. RV campers can choose from 61 sites, many within view of Lake Bistineau.
Before leaving the area, take time to see some of the sites outside the park. Lake Claiborne, Lake D’Arbonne and Jimmie Davis state parks are easily reachable from Lake Bistineau State Park, as is the town of Minden (famous for its historical homes and German heritage festival) and the bustle of Shreveport and neighboring Bossier City.
Entrance fee: $2 per person; free for seniors age 62 and older, and children age 3 and younger.