Louisiana is truly an oasis for nature enthusiasts, with its varying landscapes of coastal wetlands and prairies and abundance of native wildlife waiting to be discovered. The state is replete with state parks, national wildlife refuges and management areas, city and state preservation sites and a range of further well-maintained outdoor destinations.
There is no better way to take in the Louisiana landscape than along America’s WETLAND Birding Trail, a path that travels along the entirety of Louisiana’s Gulf Coast – from the Texas border to the Mississippi border. Visitors to the trail can catch a glimpse of the state’s coastal environments and assortment of birds and flora and fauna. The trail is divided into 12 distinct loops, with the Vermilion Loop running along the shores of Bayou Vermilion and into the heart of “Cajun Country.” Several sites spot the Vermilion Loop, including the Bancker Grotto, Palmetto Island State Park, the Mouton Cove Area and the Abbeville RV Park.
Bird watching enthusiasts are also drawn to the Town of Gueydan. With a location on the Mississippi flyway, the community is a haven for a number of bird species. The addition of the White Lake Birding and Nature Trail, located at the end of Hwy. 91 south, allows tourists to view native and migratory birds in their habitat. Be on the lookout for Vermilion Parish’s newest residents, Whooping Cranes. Once a nesting area for the almost extinct cranes, The White Lake Conservation Area is now home to over 13 non-migratory whooping cranes. Gueydan has become such a popular destination for birders and duck and goose hunters that the Secretary of State in Baton Rouge has dubbed it the “Duck Capital of America.”
Just outside of Downtown Abbeville, the Abbeville RV Park is a retreat for campers and outdoor enthusiasts, with an array of natural elements and birds calling this area home. The park features 55 shaded sites complete with water and electric hookups, 50 campsites, a one-mile nature trail and a clubhouse. Located south of Abbeville and on the Vermilion River, Palmetto Island State Park offers a real south Louisiana outdoors experience. Overnight guests can stay in one of six vacation cabins that are nestled among the trees and foliage. For the RV campers, there are 96 campsites to choose from; 20 sites include an extra tent camping pad. The Visitor Center complex features a nature station, a water playground and bathhouse for overnight and day visitors. Several trails, located throughout the park, allow visitors to learn about the area’s native flora and fauna. A boat launch provides access to the river for fishing and boating, while canoers and kayakers can explore the interior lagoons for an up-close look at the native plant and animal life.
Another way to enjoy the outdoors is by spending a day on the links. Just outside of Abbeville is Vermilion Oaks, a well-maintained golf course and driving range. Designed by Frank A. Godchaux and opened in 1927, Vermilion Oaks is an 18-hole course offering nearly 6,150 yards of play from the longest tees. The course features Bermuda grass greens and fairways, and offers a challenge to any player, from the novice to the experienced. Vermilion Oaks also has a large swimming pool, restaurant and bar area.