North Western Louisiana
January 3, 2023
We took an impromptu trip after Christmas and wanted to just go south to get warm and thought we would head toward Louisiana from Arkansas, through those two states we have never been to before. I thought the cypress swamps were intriguing and based on the description, this park seemed to fit. However, I saw on their website that the lake is usually drained in the winter months to manage a weed that has been taking over. But, we usually have some wiggle room and have the ability to stay or leave depending on how much we like the setting or if the Starlink is working out well or not. Bill is working on the road at this time and state parks often don’t have great service, which is fine out west where there are not a lot of trees to interfere with Starlink connecting. There ARE a lot of trees at Lake Bistineau State Park which is a nice change of pace from the big sky views of the western plains.
We arrived just after dark and wandered around a little bit looking for a site that might give us a clear view of the sky toward the north as Starlink needs to catch a satellite facing that direction. Southern state parks typically don’t allow reservations off season in the winter so we didn’t need to worry about switching campsites, but we didn’t find any that would work. Our game plan when that is the case is to move in the morning to an area that has some service, or go to McDonald’s for breakfast, but we really liked this beautiful state park and realized that we could drive over to the boat ramp and picnic area in the morning for internet, phone calls and work.
Morning Birds, Turtles and Fish in a Gorgeous Setting
We easily packed up in the morning because we are in a camper van and not hooked up or have things set up and drove over to the boat launch area. It is a very pretty, large day use area with open visitor restrooms with running water and a concession area although that is only available during open season. There are picnic tables all around and a very large pavilion for large groups on a peninsula giving everyone a 180 degree view of the water and trees. For fishing, they have a screened cleaning area. All kinds of birds were aflutter in the cool early morning. I saw Juncos, Robins, Warblers and a pair of Red-headed Woodpeckers (my first sighting) and a Great Blue Heron.
The male woodpecker was performing quite a balancing act on a tree branch trying to get at something good in the hole. I was so excited to get a front row seat to all of this beauty with no one else around. I took a bunch of sunrise photos reflected in the full waters. The Visitor Center said they had so much rain that the lake filled back up even after it was drained for the winter. I saw one minnow up close for a good bit, skimming the top of the water eating the bugs. The ranger came to check us out as we had yet to register our camping the night before and Bill had the Starlink up, making it look like we may have camped out at the dock. I reassured him that after Bill’s phone call, we would go to the Visitor Center when it opened to check in as we had agreed over the phone the night before. He was happy to give me a bunch of details about the wildlife there and we talked about Wyoming where we currently live near so many gorgeous settings and parks.
|Amenities:||Bistineau Lake State Park||Rate 5/5|
|Price:||Non-refundable fee assessed to all reservations, America the Beautiful Discounts, 8am-5pm check holiday hours||$$$|
|Camp Sites:||X||17 premium sites, 5 pull throughs, 44 improved (water & elect) Tents, Cabins and Lodges||5|
|Water||X||hookups at sites||4|
|Full Hookup||X||Large RV Camping||5|
|Bath House||X||no fee, hot showers, nice flow, nice toilets||4|
|Laundry||X||humble, clean, coin or app if good cell service, 2 washers 1 dryer||3|
|Day Use:||Picnic tables, group pavilions, concession in season, disc golf, horseback riding||5|
|Visitor Center:||X||small Visitor Center at the park entrance; very informative and friendly, 8am-5pm check holiday hours||3|
|Trails:||X||5 different trail for hiking and biking||3|
|Water Activities:||X||two boat launches, excellent fishing and screened cleaning station, 11-mile canoe trail, swimming beach||4|
|Wildlife Viewing:||X||Birding, Red headed woodpeckers, Great Blue Heron||5|
|Primary Setting:||enchanting stands of cypress and tupelo trees; birds and wildlife||5|
|Pros:||Gorgeous sunrises, pretty even in winter, decks and docks for some sites||5|
|Cons:||Water drained in winter to hinder spread of weeds|
|Off Season Info||Call to make reservations off season-If arriving after hours, pay in the morning-lake is drained in the winter-no pay station-not busy||5|
|Gate Closures||No Gate||5|