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Rapides Parish

Map of Rapides ParishLocated in the geographic center of Louisiana is geographically and culturally diverse Rapides Parish, named for the "rapids" in the nearby Red River.  Created in 1807, Rapides is one of the original parishes in Louisiana and with a land area of 1,322.7 square miles, it its also the second largest parish in the state.

Rapides also bears the distinction of being home to the forerunner of Louisiana State University, The Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy, which opened at Pineville in 1860.

Anglo-Saxon settlers began arriving in the early eighteenth century with grants that allowed colonists to receive government aid in purchasing supplies, such as farming and cattle implements.  During these early years, settlers devoted all their attention to cattle raising and consequently were able to export thousands annually.  By 1770, interest shifted to cotton production and by the turn of the nineteenth century, DOTD Tourism Map of Rapides Parishmany of the great plantations were already constructed.  Present-day Rapides still receives substantial revenues from the cotton industry as well as other agricultural pursuits and manufacturing.  Chief crops include sugarcane, corn, and soybeans.

The Forest Hill area south of Alexandria is home to the state's largest concentration of nurseries.

Alexandria and Pineville, along with surrounding towns, make up the "Crossroads."  More so than any other section of the state, the Crossroads is a land of infinite variety culturally, religiously, agriculturally, and politically.  Visitors can enjoy recreation areas with opportunities for water sports, fishing, hunting, camping areas, fine restaurants, hotels, and numerous other attractions.  Festivals include the Louisiana Nursery Festival, Catahoula Lake Festival, and the Cenlabration in May.

by Alana A. Carmon

Principle Towns






Rapides Parish Tourism Commission

Events and Festivals

Louisiana Nursery Festival (Forest Hill)

Lecompte Pie Festival

Historic Sites, Plantations & Museums

Forts Randolph/Buhlow State Historic Site (Pineville)

Arna Bontemps African American Museum & Cultural Arts Center (Alexandria)

Epps House: Solomon Northup's Gateway to Freedom (Alexandria)

Louisiana History Museum (Alexandria)

Kent Plantation House (Alexandria)

Loyd Hall Plantation (Cheneyville)

National Register of Historic Places

Wildlife Preserves

Alexandria Zoological Park

Kisatchie National Forest

Cotile Lake Recreational Area

Indian Creek Lake and Recreational Area

Elbow Slough Wildlife Management Area

Alexander Forest Wildlife Management Area

Camp Beauregard Wildlife Management Area

Acadiana Conservation Corridor Wildlife Management Area


Rapides Parish Courthouses

Lea's Lunchroom (Lecompte)

Rapides Parish Library

LSU AgCenter