LAKE CHARLES, Louisiana -- The seven-week buildup to Mardi Gras
here in southwest Louisiana will peak on Feb. 24 with the Parade de
la Louisiane, followed by the Krewe of Krewes Parade, in what
locals say is the second-largest Mardi Gras celebration in the
But Mardi Gras really will begin to rev up this year when the
inaugural Blazin' Biker Rally comes roaring into the lake area on
Motorcyclists from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana,
Mississippi and Texas will make a three-day appearance the weekend
before Fat Tuesday to enjoy a number of festivities and to ride
along the Creole Nature Trail, designated an All-American Road by
the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The trail is a 180-mile stretch that runs along the Gulf Coast
and splits off in two northward forks on the east and west sides of
The journey through what is known as Louisiana's Outback
constitutes a picturesque driving tour of marshes, bayous, coastal
beaches and four wildlife refuges, including the Sabine and the
The route passes through the urban centers of Port Arthur,
Texas, at the western end, Lake Charles in the north and many
smaller towns. It crosses the Intracoastal Waterway in four
The area surrounding the trail is a water-rich part of the
country, with four large lakes: Lake Charles, Calcasieu Lake, Big
Lake and Grand Lake.
"Lake Charles is in my backyard," said a spokeswoman for the
Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau, located in
the city of Lake Charles at the end of the trail farthest from the
Gulf of Mexico. You can get in a boat here and go all the way to
With so much water, there are plenty of activities to choose
from, including surf fishing, shrimping, crabbing, boating and
There also is plenty of wildlife. The marshlands are especially
rich with butterflies, migratory birds, white-tailed deer and, of
Two-night Creole Nature Trail packages, in three-star
accommodations, range from $188 for a suite with two double beds or
one king to $238 for a two-room suite, both at the Best Western
Included is a four-hour or eight-hour driving tour with a
step-on guide, a Creole Nature Trail Fun Pack, a hot buffet
breakfast, a coffeemaker in the room and use of the swimming pool.
Suites come with kitchens.
A personal Creole Nature Trail tour guide is an optional add-on,
as are extra nights.
The fun pack includes brochures, a free CD or cassette driving
tour of the trail for those who wish to drive the trail on their
own, an interpretive guide and a birding guide.
Mardi Gras packages begin at $173 for a room with two double
beds or one king, a kitchen and a hot buffet breakfast at the Best
Western Richmond Suites. The rate for a two-room suite is $223. All
packages are commissionable and subject to availability.
For package information, call (800) 639-9851 or book online at
www.visitlakecharles.org. For additional information
on the region, call the Southwest Louisiana Convention &
Visitors Bureau at (800) 456-7952 or e-mail [email protected]. More information on
the rally can be accessed at www.blazinbikesinlakecharles.com.
To contact reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].