Founded in 1720 by French colonists, Opelousas is one of the oldest cities in Louisiana and named after the Native American tribe who once inhabited the region. It served as a major trading post throughout the 18th and 19th centuries for goods traveling between New Orleans and Natchitoches, becoming the seat of St. Landry Parish in 1850. It’s gained a reputation as the birthplace of zydeco music, as well as dubbing itself the “spice capital of the world” due to the unique seasonings that are produced here.
Opelousas celebrates its rich history through excellent museums while being on the doorstep of numerous wildlife refuges and reserves. Its nice variety of accessible campgrounds and proximity to Baton Rouge make it a great destination to rent an RV while exploring central Louisiana.
The Great Outdoors
Book a camper rental in Opelousas and drive north to the Thistlethwaite State Wildlife Management Area, which is a popular hunting and birding area. It encompasses a landscape of flat bottomlands that are dotted with cypress and tupelo gums, as well as a dense understory of palmetto. Follow the one-mile-long wooded trail while keeping your eyes peeled for hawks, woodpeckers, and neotropical migrant species or hunt for deer, squirrels, raccoons, and bobcats.
Farther north lies the Chicot State Park, which extends across 6,400 acres of rolling hills around a human-made lake. It’s a popular local fishing destination, with the lake regularly stocked with bass, crappie, bluegill, and red-ear sunfish while featuring a boathouse, three boat launches, and rental facilities. A hiking trail encircles the lake that mountain bikers are also welcome to utilize, with primitive campsites situated along the way.
Just to the east of Opelousas lies the Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge, which sprawls along the east bank of the Atchafalaya River. It encompasses more than 1.5 million acres of hardwood swamps, lakes, and bayous that provide a diversity of habitats for more than 200 resident and migratory bird species. The refuge is home to the United States’ largest concentration of American woodcocks, as well as swallow-tailed kites and ospreys, while fishing for bass, crappie, and sunfish is popular in the basin.
Pick up your RV rental in Opelousas and book one of the 17 large, paved RV sites at the Evangeline Oaks RV Park. Full hookups are available, and there’s an on-site laundry facility, with complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the park.
Drive in the other direction from Opelousas, and you’ll arrive at the Caribbean Campground and Wellness Center, which has concrete sites with either 30 or 50-amp connections. There’s an indoor family center with arcade games and a swimming pool, as well as a children’s playground and on-site laundromat.
Also nearby is Alice's RV Park, a small, family-run campground with around 10 RV sites available. It’s ideal for RVers wanting a tranquil atmosphere, with laundry facilities if you need to catch up on your washing.
There is also a Walmart in Opelousas where you may be able to set up for a night or two with the manager’s permission.
Exploring the City
Park your RV rental near Opelousas and head to the Opelousas Museum & Interpretive Center, which offers a good introduction to the history of the region. Learn about the Opelousas Native American Indians and the first settlers, as well as the events that took place here during the Civil War. Discover the popular music genre of zydeco that was fostered in Opelousas, then explore the Art of Animatronics exhibit and the Geraldine Smith Welch Doll collection.
Another museum not to miss is the Louisiana Orphan Train Museum in Le Vieux Village Heritage Park, which details the story of the Orphan Train Movement. This welfare program was established in 1853, with more than 200,000 orphaned children transported to foster homes in the rural Midwest. Browse the original clothing, documents, and photographs that are on display, as well as a mural depicting the arrival of the riders in Opelousas.
Feeling lucky? Head to one of the regular meets at the Evangeline Downs Racetrack, which lies just to the east of Opelousas. Its state-of-the-art facility includes a newly designed, one-mile-long oval, as well as nearly 1,000 horse stalls. It’s located adjacent to a casino, making it the first “Racino” to be built from the ground up in the United States.
Opelousas has numerous supermarkets where you can purchase groceries, and also offers a good selection of fast food restaurants and cafes for dining out. There are also gas stations if you need to fill up your motorhome rental in Opelousas.
Whether you’re visiting St. Landry Parish for its fascinating museums or wildlife refuges, book an RV in Opelousas and start planning an epic Louisiana adventure.