The 40 Best Places to Explore Louisiana’s Southern Wilds

Abundant natural beauty and a plethora of activities are the ingredients for an outdoor paradise. Louisiana's 22 state parks and many recreational sites offer visitors countless ways to experience the Louisiana outdoors. Take your pick of hiking, biking, fishing, canoeing or birding and get out in to the southern wilds. Whether you are looking to charter a fishing boat on the Gulf or spending a relaxing day birdwatching in the bayou, there are countless ways to discover Louisiana's distinct and varied terrain.

Paddling

paddle-hero1 2.jpg

Thousands of acres of waterways weave through Louisiana's landscape, and adventure waits around every bend. Whatever your craft of choice, outfitters are on hand throughout the state to connect you to the perfect paddling experience. Kayak around cypress trees in Louisiana's Atchafalaya, North America's largest river swamp, or glide your canoe under a ceiling of Spanish moss in Barataria Preserve. In the Cajun Bayou, watch alligators from the safety of your pontoon boat or take a thrilling ride on a high-speed airboat through the swamp.

Hiking/Biking

bike-hero3-mountain-bike.jpg

Between its hills in the north and flats in the south, there are plenty of opportunities to venture off the beaten path in Louisiana. In Lincoln Parish Park, mountain bikers can test their skills on miles of world-class trails. Blending the traditional tight southern single track with double track and fire lanes, the trails are a unique way to connect with the Louisiana outdoors. For a dose of history, walk or bike the 31-mile Tammany Trace trail. A rails-to-trail project, the Tammany Trace starts in Slidell near Lake Ponchartrain and continues north for through mossy oaks and tall pines. Along the way, pass Fontainebleau State Park’s sugar mill ruins dating back to the 1800s. In New Orleans, tour Chalmette Battlefield, where General Andrew Jackson led his troops to victory against the British in the greatest American land victory of the War of 1812. 

Birding

Cormorant flying over bayou - M_MUC1968 / iStock

Located along a major bird migration route, Louisiana is home to a stunning array of birds. Its coastal marshlands, in particular, attract unusual species of songbirds, raptors and water fowl. Birding trails criss-cross the state and are one the best ways to appreciate Louisiana's feathered residents. In Lincoln Parish, James Lake Birding Trail boasts fantastic vantage points, complete with a viewing platform, bridge and wooded walking trail. Grand Isle State Park in southernmost Louisiana is another renowned bird habitat. A major stop for songbirds migrating across the Gulf of Mexico, its trails are full of melody in the spring and fall. Don't miss the Grand Isle Migratory Bird Festival each April. 

Fishing

Saltwater_hero 2.jpg

From bayous and marshes to the deep blue of the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana's fishing grounds are legendary. Each year, south Louisiana lures thousands of pros with numerous world-class tournaments. Join charter captains in Bayou Lafourche, just 45 minutes south of New Orleans, for the inland and offshore fishing trips of your dreams. With a little luck, you might hook a prized Bull Red. For freshwater fishing, head to Toledo Bend Reservoir, named the number one bass fishing lake in the U.S. two years in a row. Spanning 186,000 acres, the lake is chock-full with largemouth bass, and lunkers (bass weighing more than 10 pounds) can be caught there all year round. Just about anywhere in the state, locals will say, the fish are biting.

Explore more of the Louisiana Outdoors.

Tags