Chicot State Park
Louisiana’s largest state park is home to trails, water playgrounds and the Louisiana State Arboretum.
Chicot State Park is situated in the Prairie Cajun Country between the Atchafalaya Basin swamps and the hills of central Louisiana, offering a geographical mix of ecosystems that showcase some of the most stunning vistas the Bayou State has to offer.
There’s plenty of room to explore. At 6,400 acres, this is the largest in Louisiana’s state parks system. Anglers can catch some monster largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill and redear sunfish — many state record freshwater fish have been caught in the waters of Lake Chicot. Paddlers can take a slow ride through the marsh in a kayak or canoe.
Mountain bikers will find plenty of challenges in the hills that dominate much of the park’s landscape. A hiking trail encircles picture-perfect Lake Chicot, with primitive campsites located just steps from the path.
Thanks to its rural environs, Chicot State Park is a refuge for an array of wild animals. Bring your binoculars, tread quietly and you might catch a glimpse of elusive bobcats, whitetail deer, raccoons and coyotes. And because central Louisiana lies at the heart of one of America’s main migratory bird routes, you’re likely to see a few feathered friends on your hike or paddle.
As if this diversity is not enough, Chicot State Park is also home to the Louisiana State Arboretum. This beech-magnolia forest covers 300 acres, with diverse topography that allows the Arboretum to house many of Louisiana’s indigenous plant species.
There are plenty of sleeping options at the park, ranging from nearly 200 RV campsites to deluxe cabins, lodges, and a group camp complex that can accommodate 112 visitors at once.
Before or after your Chicot State Park adventure, stick around the area and check out what else the region has to offer. The towns of Ville Platte, Opelousas and Washington are worth checking out, as is the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center-Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve in Eunice.
Entrance fee: $3 per person; free for seniors age 62 and older, and children age 3 and younger.