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Sulphur, Louisiana

Spotlight: Avoyelles Parish/Marksville Area

Cool your heels at the crossroads of the Pelican State

Set up camp in Avoyelles Parish in central Louisiana and you’ll quickly discover why the area has been known as the crossroads of the Pelican State since as far back as the 18th century.

The artsy riverside city of Alexandria is an easy 40 miles away to the northwest. Lafayette and Baton Rouge are less than a two-hour drive away to the south, where they each burst with great Cajun food and culture on the inland edges of the bayou. And 170 miles away to the southeast sits always-rollicking New Orleans, which makes for a boisterous and fun-filled daytrip any time of year.

In short, from Avoyelles Parish, the rest of the very best of the south is readily at hand, making it an ideal junction to either stop and peruse while passing through, or use as a quaint and quiet base camp from which to branch out and explore the entire southern half of the state.

Most visitors will find themselves drawn to the parish seat of Marksville, which by default serves as the parish’s closest offering to a “big city.” Home to only about 5,000 year-round residents, Marksville’s roots lie with Marc Eliche, an Italian immigrant whose wagon wheel broke while he was passing through the area in 1794. Eliche looked about, noticed how gorgeous the landscape was and decided to simply stay put instead.

He quickly established a trading post to help others passing through the area and he gradually became known as Mark, instead of Marc. He later obtained grants for a vast swath of land in the area, which gradually became known to travelers as Mark’s Place. The jump to Marksville was a short one from there.

Jerrye & Roy Klotz, MD

Jerrye & Roy Klotz, MD

A Wilderness Smorgasbord

Outdoorsy types and nature enthusiasts will have trouble deciding where to begin. The surrounding buffet of freshwater lakes and rivers make for fantastic fishing and hunting, while the Spring Bayou Wildlife Management Area and Grande Cote National Wildlife Refuge provide vast tracts of protected wilderness to roam and explore. You’ll also discover a robust population of American Bald Eagles to observe.

The Spring Bayou WMA, located just 2 miles east of Marksville, covers more than 12,000 acres of wetland and bayou in the Red River drainage basin. It’s a popular location for hunters, with game that includes deer, rabbit, bobcat, mink and a range of waterfowl. More than 40 percent of the WMA is water, making this a haven for anglers. Largemouth bass, catfish, panfish, drum and garfish are plentiful.

For a dose of history, head to the Marksville State Historic Site, home to ancient burial mounds belonging to prehistoric Native Americans.

Go Gaming

When it’s time to blow off steam, the Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville is the place. Check out the gaming floor, tropical pool with a swim-up bar, full-service spa, movie theater, golf course and a nightly slate of live entertainment.

For More Information

Avoyelles Commission of Tourism
Louisiana Office of Tourism