Hanging Out In Cajun Country – Sam Houston Jones State Park

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Swamp Trail

Welcome to Louisiana signThe Southwestern Region of Louisiana is known by some as “Cajun Country” and boasts both bayous and big cities.  Our first stop in the Pelican state was Sam Houston Jones State Park.  It is located at 107 Sutherland Road, Lake Charles, Louisiana at the confluence of the Houston & Calcasieu Rivers and Indian Bayou.

The landscape is obviously in stark contrast with the desert and plains of the Western states we have traversed recently, for we are now in America’s Wetland.  When we arrived, we entered a park with tree-filled lagoons and a mixed pine and hardwood forest covering 1,087 acres of land.

Sam Houston Jones State Park

We like state parks for their large spaces between sites.  But here the sites are a bit tight and narrow – not what we normally expect of a state park, and some sites were buckling due to tree root incursion.  We were actually forewarned that state parks further east are old and may need work.  But this was the first state park we have seen with full hookups and 50-amp power.  And the beauty of the park and the nice hiking trails grew on us the longer we stayed.

Sam Houston Jones State Park

The water and power hook ups are way too far from the site, but the office kindly lent us an extension cord. The park is mostly peaceful and quiet, but there was some kind of constant distant humming from a plant that got really aggravating.  The birds and the wind could not drown out that noise!

Sam Houston Jones State Park

Note how far the hook ups are.

There are three hiking trails winding through this beautiful park.  First we took the Riverwalk Trail — 1.6 miles that follows Houston river and dry cypress swamps.
River Trail
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Swamp Walk Trail — 1.1 miles around the swamp and this is where I saw my first Gator and other animals!
Baby Gator

Steve’s new screen background – this guys is so cool, and the colors around him are gorgeous!

On another day we tackled the Longleaf Pine Trail — 3-1/2 miles, then added the Longleaf Pine Extension — 1.3 miles.  Luckily on this trail we did not hear that obnoxious noise.  Instead we were in the midst of hardwood and long-leaf pine trees.
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The park is said to be located in the Central Migratory Flyway, just north of the most productive birding region in Louisiana.  Even if we were too early for the migratory birds, we did hear a lot of birds but rarely saw them – the trees are so tall!  But with patience I managed to capture the resident feathered friends.
Red-headed Woodpecker
Great Heron
Finally, we had our first taste of Cajun cooking.  We ordered shrimp étouffée and chicken and sausage gumbo from Steamboat Bills.  We can imagine ourselves gaining many unwanted pounds during the next few days we are here in Louisiana, as we savor the wonderful flavorful dishes.
Cajun Style

Upcoming stops – do share with us any “must do’s” at these locations:

New Orleans, LA

Biloxi, MS

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19 thoughts on “Hanging Out In Cajun Country – Sam Houston Jones State Park

  1. Unbelievable, oh to the things you see. The swamp alone is full of things to observe. That gator looks scary, even for a small one.

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    • The swamps, bayous and lagoons here are haunting and melancholy. That gator is the one and only that I saw. Scary looking I dont want to be near it when hiking.

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  2. The gator shot is awesome. Rare to get them with their head and neck up and looking so powerful. Nice catch!!! The colors make it a standout for sure!

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  3. What a great area! I love the beautifully decorated gator and turtle…how cute and colorful. Yum…great food! Enjoy!

    We have moved to Zion and have very weak wifi. So I am trying to catch up on my 29 blog posts. So my responses may be out of order.

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  4. Love the photo of the swamp with the moss hanging down…great photo. Also love the gator, the turtles and the bird with the red head. Wow.

    Glad you’re having so much fun. We’ll be in New Orleans the second week in March.

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    • Oh we will be in NOLA until the 8th. Where do you plan to stay. Driving here is quite hellish.

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  5. Made me drool on my keyboard! Wonderful picture of the swamp! I need to stay away from the Louisiana cooking, I will not be otherwise able to fit through our RV door! But don’t leave us without the yummy details, I love food stories too.

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  6. This is one state I have never been to and really want to experience. I love the shot of the gator but don’t think I would want to see him up too close while hiking. Looking forward to hearing more about Louisiana.

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    • For now that is the only gator sighting. They said they are not in season yet. Its quite very different here but the food is just yum.

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  7. OMG how funny! The gator, the squirrel, and that Lousiana feeling….étouffée – YUM! Go with the flow. Sounds absolutely wonderful. -Maureen

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  8. The vegetation is indeed a far cry from that of the desert southwest. My son never stopped commenting about it and the amount of water everywhere. Great gator shot and I can almost spell that yummy food!

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    • Yes in deed, we are in a different world. Steve made a crawfish etoufee and it was yummy, he is hooked.

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  9. What a pretty place and fabulous wildlife sightings! Just gotta exercise a lot in order to try all the regional foods! Looks like fun!

    Lisa

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    • You got that right Lisa, we have to double time the exercise if we taste all the goodies out here. Steve is now hooked to the crawfish étouffée.

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