Have you ever wondered what the great RV park in the sky would look like after checking out of the last campground here on Earth? If so, it would only take one visit to Cajun Palms RV Resort near Breaux Bridge, La., to find the answer.
We recently learned of this “heaven on Earth” RV park while on an otherwise uneventful overnight stop in Texas during a cross-county trip. While setting up camp I asked our temporary neighbor, “Where are you from and where are you going?” It turned out he was a native Cajun from Louisiana, so the topic shifted to advice on where to find authentic Louisiana culture, which included local eats and great camping. With Cajun pride, he told us about his hometown, the quaint and historic Breaux Bridge, La., in the south-central St. Martin Parish and its unique Creole home-style eateries. Then, in his heavy Cajun accent, he described what was a “must-see” RV park, the Cajun Palms RV Resort nearby in Henderson, La. We were sold.
With a quick review of our travel schedule and the atlas, my wife, Cheryl, and I eagerly modified our trip route so we could see this highly touted RV park for ourselves.
After a leisurely three-week journey across the South and with ever-growing anticipation, we finally arrived in Henderson at the impressive front entrance of Cajun Palms. It was late afternoon on a beautiful Saturday in mid-April; just inside the arched gates a young, well-groomed concierge was standing post in a tiki-style hut ready to greet us. With the grace and precision of an elite Navy Blue Angels ground crew chief, he guided us into our RV check-in lane. He then walked up to the driver’s window, extended his hand, introduced himself by name, Brandon, and welcomed us to Cajun Palms. This was the finest welcome to an RV park that we had ever experienced in our long lives of RVing and only the first of many unexpected, pleasant experiences to come during our all too short visit to this heavenly RV park.
We completed the check-in process and received our barcoded guest wristbands, which function like a cruise ship’s “sign and sail” card and lets guests charge food, drinks, supplies and LP-gas to their RV sites. Then we received a golf cart escort through the near capacity 40-acre park of 324 deluxe RV sites, 25 cabins and 12 chalets. The park’s design was well thought out, with the bulk of its facilities and guest activities centralized in a large circle and the RV sites and other accommodations dispersed to the outer edges.
As we slowly wound through the park, it was hard to keep our eyes on the road. People of all ages and walks of life were playing, cooking and parading around in custom golf carts while zydeco music could be heard from all directions. It was obvious this was the campground of our dreams as we pulled into our large, fully paved, pull-through site surrounded by well-groomed grass and small trees.
We set up camp in record time so we could join in on all of the excitement. We met our new and fun-loving neighbors who were watching a NASCAR race, barbecuing and otherwise having a great time outside their RVs. Then we headed straight for the park’s main entertainment hub and Lee Roy’s Tiki Bar.
It’s obvious that Cajun Palms is a favorite of the locals from all over Louisiana and the South and is a repeat destination for most. The park has also become a camping tradition for many families since it opened in January 2008.
Cajun Palms offers extensive annual activities that include the usual holidays and some unique ones such as Mardi Gras, the Swamp Pop Festival, a zydeco festival, a luau, Christmas in July, Customer Appreciation Weekend and Old West Days, to name a few. The park also hosts weekend activities for all ages.
After a once around the main entertainment complex, which includes a water park, kiddie pool, adult pool with swim-up tiki bar, beach volleyball court, covered horseshoe pit, playground, 18-hole mini golf, movie theater, video arcade, adult lounge with video poker, snack shack and more, we bellied up to the bar for a cold one. At this point our neighbors joined us to watch the end of the NASCAR race on one of the large flat-screen TVs over the bar. As it turned out, our new RV friends Lee and Megan were there with several other friends and family members and occupied two RV sites and a cabin. Megan is the daughter of Tom Dempsey, the football star who set the NFL record for the longest field goal kick of 63 yards in 1970 as a New Orleans Saint.
While at the bar we met the founders and owners of Cajun Palms, Lee Venable and his wife, Stephanie. They frequently take the opportunity to visit with their many guests, the wide-eyed newcomers as well as the seasoned and extremely loyal regulars. We complimented Lee on his unique RV resort and then asked him how it all came about.
It was his lifelong dream, Lee said, to build and operate an RV resort. He proudly pointed out that Cajun Palms has earned the top ranking from the Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory (formerly the Trailer Life Directory) — perfect 10s three years running.
Cajun Palms is near the equally famous Crawfish Town USA Restaurant & Fresh Market. In fact, it’s as close as a phone call and a few minutes wait for your personal golf cart pickup and delivery service. You can even opt to have your order delivered right to your motorhome, poolside or another location within the park. This delivery service is also available from the Palms’ snack shack. And don’t forget, it can all be charged to your running tab via your wristband.
There is definitely a golf-cart culture in the park. If you don’t own one, you can rent one at Cajun Palms or at AGS Golf Carts located across the street. Perhaps you’ll even want to kick it up a notch to outdo all the other carts parading around the grounds.
When it comes to the individual RV sites, we didn’t see a bad one in the park. We did see some sites designed to allow those traveling with two or more rigs to make camp with their patios all facing together. These are called double and triple sites. For the most discriminating and pampered guests, the park offers 12 executive sites that sit along a lavish greenbelt at the outer edge of the park, but still near all the park’s conveniences. These supersized deluxe sites are fully paved and feature overhead shelters and home-style fireplaces for starters.
During our stay, we were impressed with the park’s facilities and its overall cleanliness. Even staff members were well-groomed and professional. We learned from Amanda Stelly, the general manager, that any time a staff member receives a compliment from a guest, the staff member’s name is placed in a hat. Each month names are drawn and the winners receive gifts such as iPads, gift cards or trips, to name a few. The jubilant spirit of the park’s guests is equally impressive. They were very outgoing, but still courteous to others as they took advantage of the park’s facilities and activities.
We should point out Cajun Palms has two distinct modes of operation: one is pure Cajun fun and partying while the other is slow, quiet and laid back, with many sites empty and some resort activities reduced or closed. These quiet times are more likely during the off-season and weekdays during mid-season. On that note, this is a good time to place a warning: If you’re an RVer who prefers to avoid a party atmosphere, consider a different park during Cajun Palms’ busy times. This park has a well-trained, uniformed security team that does enforce rules, but it also takes pride in its spring break and Mardi Gras atmosphere.
A visit to Cajun Palms would not be complete without spending some time in the old town of Breaux Bridge, which is no more than five minutes away from the resort and 20 minutes from Lafayette.
Breaux Bridge dates back to 1771, when Firmin Breaux bought land from a wealthy New Orleans merchant who had acquired it as a French land grant. In 1799, Breaux built a footbridge across the Bayou Teche to help ease travel for his family and neighbors. When traveling directions were given, locals would say, “Go to Breaux’s bridge …” and the town eventually adopted that moniker as its name. Later, this simple footbridge evolved into a transportation bridge to accommodate wagon traffic, which allowed the town to develop and prosper on both sides of the bayou. More than 200 years after Breaux built his, a bridge still remains as one of the highlights of this historic town that proudly holds strong to its Cajun and French roots.
Breaux Bridge was also the first in the state of Louisiana to put crawfish on restaurant menus, and these innovative chefs are the creators of the famous crawfish étouffée. In 1959, the state legislature officially designated Breaux Bridge as “la capitale Mondiale de l’ecrevisse” or “the crawfish capital of the world.” Since this designation, the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival Association has hosted the annual crawfish festival, recognized as one of the state’s finest festivals. This year’s event is scheduled for May 3-5.
Our brief stay at Cajun Palms RV Resort was an enjoyable and guest-friendly experience, and we look forward to our next visit. Take it from us, seize every opportunity to meet your temporary RV neighbors and “Laissez les bon temps rouler!” Let the good times roll!
Cajun Palms RV Resort