Know Your NOLA, Travel

Get Outta Town: Six parks perfect for post-Mardi Gras getaways

Don’t get us wrong. We all love Carnival. But somewhere around Mardi Gras Day, it’s easy to hit a wall in the oft-mentioned marathon. Mardi Gras burnout is real and weeks of partying in the street with thousands of people is bound to take a toll.

A great way to break out of a post-Gras funk — particularly if you aren’t Catholic and channeling that energy into changing your diet or avoiding vices — is to head outside. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a few of the best outdoor getaways within driving distance of New Orleans. The great outdoors is an incredible way to clear your head and sweat out some of those stiff drinks, and while the city can seem like an all-encompassing bubble, it’s fairly easy to find the exact opposite of city life just a short drive away.

Jean Lafitte Park & Preserve

Our first choice for a getaway isn;t really away at all. Just 17 miles from New Orleans, this swampy preserve is packed with nature trails and boardwalks through the swamp. The Barataria Preserve in particular is a great way to connect to the natural world of South Louisiana. Will away memories of flying plastic beads by walking through a preserved bit of Louisiana’s primordial past.

The park offers dirt and gravel trail hikes, canoe and kayak launches and the aforementioned boardwalks that can carry visitors to a beautiful marsh overlook.

Plan The Trip:

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
Getting there
1419, Marrero, LA 70072, USA
Opening Hours
Mon-Tue Closed
Wed-Sun 10am–4:30pm
More Info
Website

Tunica Falls

If stomping around the cities’ varied geography (from flat to bowl-shaped) has you aching for a little bit of elevation, this park just over the Mississippi border is excellent. Spend a day rockhopping and climbing on one of several natural waterfalls in the Clark Creek Natural Area. And if you feel like staying a little longer, campgrounds are on offer on the Louisiana side.

Plan The Trip:

Tunica Falls Cabins
Getting there
13178, Cr-466, St Francisville, LA 70775, USA
More Info
Website

Hooper Road Park

This hill and bluff-filled network of trails is perfect for folks who want to get away, but don’t want to spend several hours in the car. Hooper Road is just outside of Baton Rouge, about an hour and a half from our fair city. The varied elevation even lends itself to mountain bike trails. Your eyes don’t deceive you, you can get to a mountain bike trail without even filling up your gas tank.

Plan The Trip:

Hooper Road Park
Getting there
6261 Guynell Dr, Baton Rouge, LA 70811, USA
Opening Hours
Mon-Fri 3:30–8pm
Sat-Sun Closed
More Info
Website

Bogue Chitto

This is for folks feeling truly wrecked by the Gras. If you can’t even work up the energy for a brisk walk, why not rent a tube along this lazy river and let the current carry you for an hour or two? The exercise-inclined can take advantage of some of the the park’s Gorge Trail, though be warned. This is primo Louisiana, meaning that it’s pure, unadulterated flat land. Still, there are several overlooks and sights a-plenty along the five-mile length of the loop.

Plan The Trip:

Bogue Chitto State Park
Getting there
17049 State Park Blvd, Franklinton, LA 70438, USA
Open Now
Mon-Sun 7am–9pm
More Info
Website

Kisatchie National Forest

Louisiana isn’t fairly well known for protecting its wildlife. So it might not shock you to learn that there’s only one national forest in the entire state. Even so, Kisatchie is a doozy. The lone forest covers 600,000 acres just outside Alexandria and that’s plenty of space to get lost in thought.

Plan The Trip:

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Has anyone ever worked down on the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana? Just because the West has huge mountain ranges, rolling rangeland and grand vistas, doesn't mean that our work is restricted to the western US. ⠀ ⠀ A Challis Helitack crewmember has been down on the Kisatchie, assisting them with prescribed fire and helicopter management. These are some photos he took during a PT hike in the Kisatchie Hills Wiilderness⠀ ⠀ #kisatchienationalforest #kisatchiehillswilderness #louisiana #southernfire #region8 ⠀ #helitack #challishelitack #salmonchallisnationalforest ⠀ #fireaviation #usfs #usforestservice #firefighting #firefighters #firefighter #wildfire #wildlandfire #wildlandfirefighting #wildland_firefighters #wildlandfirefighters #wildlandfirefighter #workfornature #firecrew #publiclands #prescribedfire #rxfire #goodfire

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Kisatchie National Forest
Getting there
Kisatchie National Forest, Parish Governing Authority District H, LA 71433, USA
More Info

Woodlands Conservancy

We’ll close this rundown with another close-to-home park for the folks who can’t make it much farther than the parish line. This underutililized gem in Plaquemines Parish is little more than three trails, all adding up to about five miles, and it runs through a quickly disappearing bit of natural history. The conservancy is a bottomland hardwood forest, an increasingly rare find in the state as coastal erosion eats away at the land between New Orleans and the sea. While it’s in no danger of disappearing overnight, Plaquemines’ startling land loss means the clock is ticking on this particular natural wonder.

Plan The Trip:

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Baby Racoons are the cutest! One of our camera traps captured this great #wildlifewednesday shot of a momma and her kits foraging in our forested wetlands. Racoons might be a pretty common occurrence for us here in Louisiana, but did you know they are actually highly intelligent animals? . In 1913 a psychologist named Dr. Lawrence Cole conducted an intellect experiment (back when this was legal) involving 22 rats, 2 dogs, 4 racoons, and 5 human children… Sounds like the start of a good joke right? Aside from the humans, only the racoons were capable of learning, recalling, and anticipating while being distracted. . . #nola #showmeyournola #trashpanda #woodlandsnola #naturelove #naturelovers #matingseason #mating #babyracoon #babyanimals #racoon #furrywoodlandcreatures #racoonsofinstagram #courtship #wildlife #clevergirl #wildlifephotography #forest #savingforestedwetlands #wetlands #conservation #nature #macro #macrogram #naturephotography #getoutside

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Woodlands Conservancy Park
Getting there
Belle Chasse, LA 70037, USA
Open Now
Mon-Sun Open 24 hours
More Info
Website