In south-central Louisiana seven miles north of Ville Platte, lies the biggest and one of the oldest state parks in Louisiana, Chicot State Park, which houses some of the world's most breathtaking landscapes. With Chicot State Park encompassing 6,400 acres of land, you can bet there is no shortage of recreational activities or RV campsites here. The exceptional beauty of Chicot State Park is a magnet for RV campers and adventurous souls. A small share of the park is dominated by the 200-acre man-made Lake Chicot. Surrounded by hills, Chicot State Park has ample space to commune with nature. From hiking and cycling to wildlife viewing, paddling, and fishing, everything about this park hits the spot.
No RV guest should miss the Louisiana State Arboretum, right after the park’s main entrance, where you will find 600 acres of land that is dedicated to the preservation of Louisiana's indigenous plants. With over 150 plant species ranging from magnolia and sycamores to oak and ferns, plant and nature lovers will have a field day hiking the miles of trails along the forest ecosystem. The park is open year-round, and with mild temperatures during all four seasons, there's never a bad time to visit. With nearly 200 improved campsites available to RVers, guests can stay in comfort when they visit Chicot State Park.
Located halfway between Alexandria and Lafayette, and just a few miles away from Ville Platte, Louisianna, it is a breeze to get to Chicot State Park. The park is straddled by two major routes, US-167 and I-49, so whichever way you're coming from and whatever vehicle you're driving, you should have no trouble reaching the park. Chicot State Park has several entrances, but the one on the east side off of LA- 3042 is by far the most RV- and trailer-friendly.
In some sections of the campground, the roads are narrow, steep, and hilly, especially in South Landing; this can be tricky for campers with large trailers. Some campsites may need leveling. Also, low hanging branches may limit access to some campsites. During heavy rainfall, some pavement may be impassable and some services may close.
Depending on where you are staying or your area of interest, you will find many parking areas from the entrance all the way to the lake and the campsites. If you want to access the boat launch and boardwalk on Lake Chicot there is a parking lot centrally located. Of course, you can also park at the campground if you are staying overnight.
Chicot State Park has 198 pet-friendly campsites with water and electric hookups. The two campgrounds of North Landing and South Landing are suitable for RVs, trailers, and tents. Both campsites feature amazing amenities such as hot showers, picnic tables, a boat launch, a dump station, fire grills, docks, fishing piers, and lodges. In addition, Northern Landing features a laundry facility, plus group and backcountry camping sites.
Though campers are free to camp in either camping area, Northern Landing is more RV-friendly as its sites are well-spaced, more level, and the paths are easier to navigate for larger trailers. The Southern Landing campsites are located adjacent to the main entrance, providing better views of the lake and are more geared towards tent camping. Sites vary in length, but some can accommodate vehicles up to 76 feet long.
Reservations are open up to 13 months in advance, and the park recommends that guests should book at least a day in advance prior to camping with a minimum of two nights reservation. The maximum length of each stay is 15 days. Chicot State Park has plenty of huge mosquitoes after dusk so you should carry bug repellent with you. Also, remember to keep your food items secure as the raccoons here have perfected their art of gaining access to food. Not far from the park you can drive to Ville Platte if you need to replenish your groceries, access your emails, or go shopping.
If you would rather soak up the serenity and solitude of nature, there are six primitive camping sites along the Lake Chicot shorelines, which are available on a first-come, first-served basis. You must be able to hike to these sites. While they lack the many amenities of the campgrounds, these sites do offer spectacular views of the lake you may not find anywhere else.
For those looking to get out of the RV for a night or two, Chicot State Park has 15 Deluxe Cabins available for rent. As the name suggests, these luxury cabins offer top-notch amenities like modern kitchens and appliances, indoor plumbing, and fireplaces. The cabins can sleep up to six guests in two bedrooms, and two of the cabins are ADA-accessible. Guests will also find a four-season porch at each cabin. Some of the Deluxe Cabins are situated lakeside, while the rest are located further into the woods with spectacular trees surrounding them. Open year-round, the cabins can be reserved up to 13 months in advance.
If you're camping with a slightly larger group that can't all fit in the motorhome, consider renting one of Chicot State Park's two lodges. These lodges are located on the north side of Lake Chicot and can sleep up to 14 guests. Both lodges are ADA-accessible and come equipped with modern conveniences like indoor plumbing, updated appliances and kitchens, satellite television, and central air conditioning. The lodges are available year-round, and reservations can be made up to 13 months in advance.
Those who are seeking accommodation for a large group of people should check out Chicot State Park's Group Lodge. Located on the south side of the park near Lake Chicot, this dorm-style lodge is separated into two bunk rooms, each with their own restroom. The lodge can accommodate up to 52 people and is also equipped with a group dining hall that includes a large industrial kitchen. Guests will also have access to a private pool when staying at the Group Lodge. The lodge remains open all year, and reservations can be made up to 13 months in advance.
Chicot State Park offers a unique attraction the whole family can enjoy: a water playground! So don't forget to pack your bathing suit in the Class A. Open from April until October, the water playground is a perfect place for kids of all ages to splash around in the water. There is a paved area with fountains that sprout from the ground and cascade down with water so you can run around and cool off from the hot sun.
Lake Chicot boasts of being a great fishing habitat with fish species ranging from bluegill and crappie to sunfish and largemouth bass, thus attracting many anglers to the facility. To ensure that you have a great fishing experience, Chicot State Park has two huge and well-maintained docks at each campground from which you can cast out. Fishing can also be done from the shore, or via boat. Additionally, there are three boat launches and a boathouse available. If you didn't tow your own boat behind the Sprinter, flat bottomed boats and canoes are available for rent from the park.
A visit to Chicot State Park is never complete without hiking. There are multiple mini trails through the woods spread across the vast park. They all branch from or join the main extensive 20-mile Chicot Loop Trail. Depending on your interest and hiking ability, you may choose a trail those appeals to you. To easily navigate the major trail you need to be armed with a map (usually offered at the gate), plenty of water, and be physically fit, since some sections are quite hilly.
There are primitive camping sites located along the lake for avid backpackers. Also remember to pack bug spray, light hiking gear, and a long-sleeved shirt in your camper, because Chicot State Park is full of ticks, flies, and bugs that love the nature here just as much as the visitors do! The plant and trees along the trail are well labeled for easier identification.
Chicot State Park plays host to a variety of wildlife. From the commonly-sighted animals such as raccoons, deer, armadillos, and turtles, to the occasionally-sighted animals including coyotes, bobcat, and snakes, you are always assured of encountering wildlife during your RV trip here. Be on the lookout for (but steer clear of) black bears and some poisonous snakes which inhabit the park. Your best chance for spotting some of the park's full-time residents is during the off-season when the crowds thin out for the year.
Being near a renowned migratory bird route, you will find several birds species in Chicot State Park. You can either park your motorhome in the two available RV parking slots in the Arboretum or in Chicot State Park. If you are keen enough, you will spot numerous animals and birds on the Chicot State Park Loop Trail and the Arboretum Loop, including otters, ducks, hawks, songbirds, and owls. Another favorite birding spot is on the shores of Lake Chicot, where wading birds and other birds prey on the fish. Early mornings and evening strolls provide the best opportunity for birding.
If you are a fan of canoeing, don't hesitate to pack your canoe or kayak and life jacket along in your RV. There is a designated and clearly marked eight-mile canoe trail in Lake Chicot. You can access the paddling trail from either of the campsite boat launches. The trail is divided into three segments which are well interconnected. The canoe experience gives epic views of the scenery and aquatic animals such as frogs and fish. Be careful when paddling as the trail might have some wasp nests. Canoes are also available for rent from the park.