What is on your checklist for your next RV vacation destination? If it includes large bodies of water, rich history, and a modern camping facility, then look no further. Located less than a mile from the Mississippi River in northeast Louisiana, the lovely Lake Bruin State Park offers all this and more. Visitors to the park will enjoy fishing, swimming, wildlife viewing, and a number of historical sites located nearby.
Guests will appreciate the fact that the park maintains a sandy beach with a bathhouse and picnicking area nearby, making it easy to spend a whole day soaking up the sun. Youngsters will also enjoy the play areas located across from the beach. Although the park has plenty of modern conveniences, that doesn't mean you won't be able to relax and enjoy nature during your camping trip. Over 100 species of birds have been spotted in the park, and the 9,000-acre Buckhorn National Wildlife Management Area is just 20 minutes to the northwest. The park has a unique natural history, as well. The 3,000 acre Lake Bruin was once an appendage of the nearby Mississippi River and the ancient cypress trees that line the lake and can be traced all the way back to the Spanish exploration of the river.
After a day exploring, you will feel good about returning to your RV. The campground at Lake Bruin State Park has both back-in and pull-through sites, some with electrical hookups and water. The campground amenities and lakeside sites are sure to make any RVer feel relaxed and rejuvenated.
The scenic and historic Lake Bruin State Park is situated along the Mississippi River in northeast Louisana. The nearest town is St. Joseph, less than four miles away, and is a great pit stop if you need to gas up the RV or pick up additional supplies. The park entrance is located on LA-604, a paved two-way road that should be easy to navigate, even for big rigs. The road is also straight and flat, adding extra convenience for those with large vehicles or trailers. LA-604 can be accessed from US-65, which intersects with I-20 and will lead you to Jackson, Mississippi, and Monroe, Lousiana. Once inside the park, roads remain paved with very few curves, making it a breeze to reach your site and set up camp.
Guests to Lake Bruin State Park will find parking available near the playground, the swimming beach, and the picnic pavilion.
For those interested in extending their adventure into the night, there are a few camping options at Lake Bruin State Park. The park offers a lakeside campground with 48 improved campsites. These campsites all offer water, electricity hookups, a picnic table, a splash pad, and a fire ring. The sites can accommodate varying sizes of RVs—the largest site can accommodate rigs up to 84-feet in length. Some sites require backing in, so guests should be mindful of their parking skills when making reservations. Guests will find ADA compliant bathhouses nearby, as well as a dump station, a playground, and additional parking. Pets are allowed as long as they are kept leashed. The park is open year-round, and reservations must be made at least one day in advance. The park requires a two-night minimum stay on weekends and a three-night minimum stay on weekdays.
If you're looking to upgrade from the RV for a night or two, Lake Bruin has three cabins available year-round. One deluxe cabin features three bedrooms, central air and heating, plumbing, modern kitchen appliances, cable television, and laundry facilities. The deluxe cabin can sleep up to eight people.
Two ADA accessible standard cabins are also available. They feature one bedroom, a sleeper sofa, central air and heating, plumbing, a modern kitchen with appliances, satellite television, an outdoor barbeque, and a picnic table. The standard cabins can sleep up to four people. All three cabins come fully furnished and are equipped with linens, towels, and toilet paper. Reservations are required and can be made up to 13 months in advance.
Visitors to Lake Bruin State Park with interest in wildlife will find the Tensas National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1980, a must-see. This refuge is located about an hour north of the park and covers 57,000-acres of bottomland forest. It offers guests a unique opportunity to hunt, fish, hike, and view native wildlife. The refuge also offers trails, and the staff provides educational programs. For more information, guests should head to the Visitor Center, where they'll find brochures, exhibits, and more.
Lake Bruin State Park is home to the massive Lake Bruin, making it the perfect place for anglers to cast out during their RV vacation. The best fishing to be had is during the spring and fall when the water is still a bit cool. Common catches include largemouth bass, crappie, and bluegill. Those hoping to reel in a keeper can do so from one of the three large fishing piers, or from the water via boat. If you didn't tow your own water vessel along, rentals are available, along with a boat launch open year-round, and a boat shed for docking.
Make sure you pack your swimsuit and sunscreen in the campervan before heading out to Lake Bruin State Park. The park maintains a sandy-beach area along the lake just for swimming in the hot Louisiana summer. Guests will find a bathhouse located nearby. You may also want to pack a picnic or pick up some grilling supplies and make a day of it. The park has picnic tables and barbecue grills situated near the beach, making it easy to lounge around the lake for the day. The park even maintains a pavilion where you can seek shelter if the weather turns bad. If you have anglers in your group, you will be happy to hear that there are fishing piers nearby, as well.
Natural lovers might also consider stopping at the Buckhorn Wildlife Management Area, located in Saranac, just 20 minutes from Lake Bruin. Although the area isn't as large as the Tensas National Wildlife Refuge, it is still nearly 9,000 acres and much closer to the park. Visitors to this hardwood forest can enjoy hunting, hiking, berry picking, fishing, and wildlife viewing. The American Bird Conservancy has recognized Buckhorn as an important birding area, so don't forget to bring the binoculars along.
Lake Bruin State Park participates in the Louisiana State Geocache Project, an activity that involves using GPS coordinates to track down small prizes scattered around the area. Both kids and adults new to geocaching will find this modern twist to treasure hunting addictive. The Lake Bruin State Park geocache is located in easy terrain and is fairly easy to find. The geocache is regular sized. Guests can go to the official geocaching website or stop by the Visitor Center to obtain a clue tracking sheet and to find out more about geocaching in the great state of Louisiana.
Those looking to take a day trip from Lake Bruin State Park can put the Sprinter in drive and head to the Poverty Point World Heritage Site. Located about an hour from the park, Poverty Point is worth the drive. The historic site allows visitors to view ancient Native American ceremonial mounds. These sites date back to 700 B.C.E. Guests will also want to explore the museum where they can learn more about the people that once inhabited this area. The people who once resided at Poverty Point were highly sophisticated. Scientists have estimated that landscape preparation and earthworks construction that took place here may have required moving as many as 53 million cubic feet of soil. Guests will learn of the evidence that Poverty Point's inhabitants imported stone and ore from far off places. In 1962, Poverty Point was designated a National Historic Landmark, and the site was made a Smithsonian affiliate in 2010.
Guests to Lake Bruin State Park with interest in history and local culture will find the three-mile drive to nearby Newellton, Lousiana, is worthwhile. Winter Quarters Plantation dates back to 1805. At that time, Job Routh built a winter hunting lodge on land granted him by the Spanish government. Rooms were built onto the original structure in the 1830s. The plantation encompassed over 2000-acres at its height when it processed cotton, ran a sawmill, maintained several barns, a smokehouse, a hospital, and several boat docks. This project was all done with the labor of over 300 enslaved workers. Winter Quarters Plantation is one of the rare survivors of the Civil War. The house stands today due to the courage of then occupant Julia Nutt, who fed and housed Union soldiers in exchange for sparing the house. In 1978, Winter Quarters State Historic Site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Don't forget to pack the binoculars along in the Airstream because Lake Bruin State Park is home to over 100 species of birds. Some live here year-round, while others migrate here for the winter. If you tread lightly, you may be able to spot painted buntings, yellow-billed cuckoo, bald eagles, or red-shouldered hawks. Rare species of songbirds have also been seen around the park, including warblers, flycatchers, and vireos.