Just south of the Arkansas border and north of the city of Monroe, Union Parish is a rural getaway. The parish is fertile ground for watermelons, celebrated each year in the Farmerville Watermelon Festival. It’s also poultry-raising country. But the melon patches and chicken coops co-exist in harmony with extensive woodlands. In the wilds of Union, you can see both bald eagles and alligators. One of the gems is 655-acre Lake D’Arbonne State Park where cabins, camping and boat rentals and plenty of excellent fishing on the lake is available. Union Parish also contains parts of the D’Arbonne National Wildlife Refuge and the Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge. The refuges provide safe-havens for endangered species such as the Louisiana black bear, while also ensuring plentiful deer and turkey hunting grounds for the camouflage-clad. The 11,000-acre Union Parish Wildlife Management Area is the place for bird-watching, hiking and horseback riding.