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Adventure Travel on the Bayou, and Beyond

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Adventure Travel on the Bayou, and Beyond
By Rochelle Caviness - December 9, 2002

The term adventure travel means many things to many people, to some it simply means staying in a motel rather than a hotel, for others it means climbing a bare faced cliff without ropes or gloves! No matter what level of adventure you are seeking, or your level of sight, you're sure to find just the right mix in North Louisiana.

You will be amazed just how 'wet' North Louisiana is. Several large rivers flow through the region, and there are numerous bayous and lakes scattered rather thickly about. So it is not surprising that water related activities predominate. These range from water-skiing and swimming to boating and fishing. When boating in the region, you have the option of 'going it alone' or of making use of the guide services provided by several outfitting services in the area. Two of these are the Panther Creek Outfitters and Norris Canoe Outfitters.

Panther Creek Outfitters offers canoe rentals as well as guided tours. They will tailor the tour to your specific interests and provide extensive commentary if you desire. They operate on a number of streams, including the Ouachita River, Bayou DeLoutre, Bartholomew, and D'Arbounne. They can be reached by phone at (318) 726-4371.

Norris Canoe Outfitters, also provides canoe rentals. But what you'll really want to check out is their 37-foot cedar reproduction of the huge canoes used by 18th century French Voyagers during the heyday of the fur trade. This massive canoe can hold up to sixteen people and their supplies quite comfortably.

Floating in this canoe through a cyprus tree choked bayou is a fascinating experience, especially when combined with your guides in-depth commentary on the area. Short guided tours are available, as well as full day and overnight trips, which come complete with meals. The trips organized by Norris Canoe Outfitters are 'flat water' trips, which makes for easy paddling.

Chuck Norris, the owner of Norris Canoe Outfitters, has experience hosting trips with blind and visually impaired guests, including school groups from the Louisiana Center for the Blind. Norris is a great tour guide, he is passionate for his work, and he will ensure that you have the best trip possible.

Norris Canoe Outfitters can be reached by phone at: (318) 949-9522.

Hiking and Birding:

Hiking opportunities abound throughout North Louisiana, on both maintained and non-maintained trails. Most of the wildlife refuges allow visitors to hike throughout their preserves, as well as pursue other recreational uses ranging from ATVing to hunting. As well, several refuges have some very nice nature trails. One example of this is the Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge features several nature trails as well as two wildlife observation piers, one of which extends into the Bayou itself.

Because North Louisiana is so 'wet', the area attracts a wide variety of water fowl and other birds, making the area ideal for birding and listening to bird songs. Find water, and you'll find birds. In addition the Russell Sage Wildlife Refuge and the neighboring Ouachita Wildlife Management Area, are both managed with a particular emphasis toward attracting water fowl. Both areas offer fine birding opportunities and both have designated hiking trails.

Relaxing Adventures - River Cruising and Cooking

For those seeking a less strenuous adventure tour of North Louisiana, you may want to consider a relaxing cruise on the "Spirit of the Red" or sit in on a cooking class at the Cotton Country Cooking School in Monroe.

"The Spirit of the Red" cruises along the Red River and the Cross Bayou. During your journey you are treated to an ongoing commentary by the Captain, who discourses on the flora, fauna, and history of the Shreveport - Bossier City area. This boat holds 35 passengers. The passenger seating area is enclosed, with large windows. You also have the option of standing on a small observation deck. Tours are regularly scheduled on Friday, Saturday, and Sundays. Private charters are also available. For information on the "Spirit of the Red", call (318) 424-3576.

Should cooking be counted as adventure travel? It depends on the individual and their level of comfort in the kitchen. If your view of adventure travel takes a culinary bent, you'll want to stop by the Cotton Country Cooking School to sit in on one of demonstration cooking classes. Cooking classes are normally only presented to groups with fifteen or more people. When arranging for a demonstration, you get to select a food topic of your choice for the class - and best yet - you get to eat the end product.

Afterwards, if you're still hungry, you will find that North Louisiana has a whole host of restaurants that offer a little something adventurous for every taste, ranging from deep fried alligator to the spices of Cajun cuisine. Just let you nose be your guide, and you'll not be disappointed!

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