Things to do Near Sam Houston Jones State Park

Sam Houston Jones State Park, located on the West Fork of the Calcasieu River, is a Lake Charles area destination that welcomes visitors to its 1,000-plus acres of longleaf pine and hardwood forests.

The park was originally named for the Texas war hero and politician Sam Houston. It was later changed to honor Louisiana’s 46th governor, Sam Houston Jones, who was instrumental in getting the tract of land set aside.

At Sam Houston Jones State Park, visitors can walk through over 70 acres of restored longleaf pines, which were once the most abundant tree species in the United States, but now occupy just 10 percent of their original spread across Louisiana. Sam Houston Jones State Park is part of the Longleaf Legacy Project, whose focus is on the restoration and recovery of these trees and the ecosystems they are part of.

Trails spread throughout Sam Houston Jones State Park. Take shorter trails through cypress-tupelo forests between the lagoon and the river, or go for a longer journey through the longleaf pine forest; in all, trails spanning a total of eight miles crisscross through the park. One of them, an old stagecoach road, will take hikers through the park and towards the banks of Calcasieu River tributaries.

On your walk, you may see some of the many bird species that call southwest Louisiana home — even if only temporarily. Sam Houston Jones State Park is located within the Mississippi Flyway, a migratory bird route where both common and exotic species can be seen headed north or south throughout the year. Depending on when you visit, you may see upwards of 200 different species in and around the park.

If you’d prefer to do your sightseeing on the water, there are two boat launches conveniently located on the West Fork of the Calcasieu River. Once in the water, boaters can easily head upriver towards the more remote end of the park, or downriver towards Lake Charles, Prien Lake and the enormous Calcasieu Lake.

Overnight visitors have their choice of primitive campsites, backcountry campsites, RV campsites, cabins and a deluxe lodge. Whatever your comfort level or style of travel, Sam Houston Jones State Park has accommodations for you.

Nearby Attractions

Southwest Louisiana’s largest city, Lake Charles, is just a short 20-minute drive from the park entrance. Discover great gaming at Golden Nugget Lake Charles and L’Auberge Casino Resort, two of the most prominent destinations in the city. These casino resorts aren’t just known for gambling, but for their spectacular dining options as well: Jack Daniel’s Bar and Grill and Ember Grille and Wine Bar, both located at L’Auberge Casino Resort, are standouts in the local Lake Charles restaurant scene.

Other Lake Charles restaurants range from south Louisiana seafood at Seafood Palace, Steamboat Bill’s and Pat’s of Henderson, barbecue at BBQ West and Jeanne’s Bourbon Street BBQ, and the locally-famous po' boys at Darrell’s.

Lake Charles has plenty of cultural and historical attractions. Get your bearings first by meandering through the waterfront park downtown, checking out the local shops, cafés and restaurants, and then driving through the Charpentier Historic District. The Children’s Museum of Southwest Louisiana and the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu are here, in one of Lake Charles’ most photo-worthy, quaint neighborhoods.

Go beyond the Lake Charles city limits to experience more of southwest Louisiana’s great outdoors. The Creole Nature Trail All-American Road is a 180-mile-long network of highways linking wetlands, towns and beaches along the coast. Affectionately known as “Louisiana’s Outback,” the trail is a road tripper’s dream getaway.

Finally, head east of Lake Charles to tiny Lacassine, home to the Bayou Rum Distillery. Bayou Rum’s white, spiced and flavored rums are royalty among Louisiana liquors; at its headquarters, visitors can tour the facility and browse for souvenirs in the gift shop.