Louisiana has nearly two dozen state parks that offer outstanding opportunities for outdoor experiences. Enjoy superb fishing, boating, paddling and water sports. Or get up close with nature on biking and hiking trails, where birdwatching is some of the finest in the country. Numerous waterways—from lakes and bayous to swamps and lagoons—lie amid our verdant hills and rich marshlands. You'll find excellent camping and picnic areas, including well-equipped cabins and RV parks.
The thunder of hooves heard in Ville Platte each October would presumably warm the heart of Marcellin Garand, a former cavalry officer in Napoleon's army who is credited with founding this city in the northern reaches of modern day Cajun country. Here, his equestrian legacy is remembered during the Louisiana Tournoi, a one-of-a-kind horseback tournament, where riders wearing capes and costume armor vie to lance the most gold rings while racing along a rustic track. The event is held in conjunction with the Louisiana Cotton Festival, which honors the area's agricultural bounty with a downtown parade, a ball and visits by festival queens. Throughout the year, visitors find Cajun food and swamp pop music galore, a historic district straddling El Camino Real, the Spanish colonial-era trail connecting New Orleans to Natchitoches and easy access to Chicot State Park with its many acres of wooded, rolling hills and meandering, cypress-studded waterways.