Marksville State Historic Site is a testament to ancient engineering on a grand scale. Located in the city of Marksville, it is a must-visit site for those interested in early Native American history and ingenuity. The level of organization required to build the Marksville mounds is extraordinary. The main feature, a 3,300-foot-long semicircular ridge, is comprised of tons of soil moved by human hands over 2,000 years ago. A walking trail follows that ridge, taking visitors to a bluff overlooking the Old River.
Both within and outside the circle are various mounds used for burying the dead, likely involving elaborate rituals. Traveling up the Mississippi River and its tributaries, you’ll find many more like these; the Marksville culture was an offshoot of the famous Hopewell peoples who created countless similar mounds from the Gulf of Mexico to present-day Canada.
Visit the museum at the entrance to the park, where you’ll find numerous artifacts on display that tell more about how Marksville’s mysterious, ancient residents lived. The trail surrounding Marksville’s most prominent mounds showcases some of these incredible earthworks, and guided tours are available as well.
Avoyelles Parish, where Marksville State Historic Site is located, is in a part of Louisiana brimming with cultural attractions. In town you’ll find the historic Creole cottage museum known as the Hypolite Bordelon Home, and down the road is the Tunica-Biloxi Indian Center & Museum. Other nearby places to check out are the Paragon Casino Resort and Spring Bayou State Wildlife Management Area.
Entrance fee: $4 per person; free for seniors 62+ and children 3 and under.