Louisiana Destinations ... Travel Across the Bayou State

The Museum of West Louisiana in Leesville
The Museum of West Louisiana in Leesville

Leesville Louisiana Travel Guide

Leesville is located on U.S. Highway 171 between Shreveport and Lake Charles, as seen on the Leesville map below. It is also about 50 miles west of Alexandria via Louisiana Highway 28, and near the Texas border and Toledo Bend Reservoir. Leesville is the home of the U. S. Army's Fort Johnson and the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC).

Nearby communities include DeRidder and Many.

The parish seat of Vernon Parish, Leesville is located close to the south end of Toledo Bend Lake and Reservoir, the largest man-made lake in the South.

Northwestern State University - Leesville/Fort Johnson is located midway between Leesville and Fort Johnson on Highway 467. The campus occupies 160 acres and houses 30,000 square feet of classroom and administrative office space. The Leesville/Fort Johnson campus serves the civilian communities of Vernon, Beauregard, and Sabine parishes, as well as the military community at Fort Johnson.

Leesville Information and Geographic Location

The population of Leesville today is near 7,000 residents. Leesville is located in Area Code 337, and uses Zip Codes 71446 and 71459. The city's elevation is 254 feet. Coordinates are 31° 8′37″ N, 93° 16′16″ W.


Leesville, Louisiana area attractions and things to do


Area Attractions and Things to Do in/near Leesville

  • Toledo Bend Lake and Reservoir - the largest man-made lake in the South, is located

    directly west of Many. This massive 185,000 acre lake is a project of the States of Texas and Louisiana, and has both recreational and power generation benefits.

    Visit Toledo Bend Reservoir, south of Shreveport, near Many and Leesville

    Boating, fishing, skiing, camping, hiking, birding, golf, and other recreational activities are all popular. A variety of fishing marinas, hiking trails, RV resorts, restaurants, camps, golf courses, and other facilities are all available along the 1,200 miles of shoreline of the reservoir.

  • North Toledo Bend State Park - Located on Toledo Bend Reservoir, one of the country's largest man-made reservoirs, North Toledo Bend State Park provides a venue for a wide variety of water-related activities in a pleasant environment. And for land-based activities, more than 900 acres are available for camping, picnicking, hiking, and relaxing in the heart of nature.

    Available day-use facilities include a meeting room which can be reserved for group functions, a full size swimming pool with restrooms for the summer season, and a laundry with all the conveniences for a long or short stay in the park. Nearby are entrances to two hiking/biking trails - a 1.5-mile loop and a more demanding 4-mile loop.

    A boat launch with a double ramp, a large parking lot, boat rentals, and a fish cleaning station, provides access to the reservoir. Organizations associated with the Toledo Bend Reservoir host numerous freshwater fishing competitions which attract fishermen from around the country. Fishing, swimming, boating, hiking, picnicking, and relaxing – all of these activities and more are yours to enjoy
  • Vernon Veterans Memorial Park in downtown has memorials to all those from the area who served over the years from World war I to Korea and World War II. Also, there is information about the War on Terror and the Vietnam War.
  • Downtown Leesville is the site of parades for Mardi Gras, Veterans Day, Martin Luther King Day, Christmas, and St. Patrick's Day as well as school events and military events. Also downtown next is the Court House and other historic buildings.
  • The Museum of West Louisiana is located at 803 South Third Street in the old Kansas City Southern (KCS) Railway depot built in 1916. The structure is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

    The museum was created in 1987 with the purpose of exhibiting and preserving items showing the culture and history of Vernon Parish and the west areas of Louisiana.


Fort Johnson

Fort Johnson in Leesville, Louisiana


Fort Johnson (formerly Fort Pollk) is the home of the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC), the 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, and the 162nd Infantry Brigade. It serves primarily as a training post for units preparing to deploy to fight the nation’s wars. It was renamed in 2023.

With the exception of Louisiana state government, Fort Johnson is the largest employer in Louisiana, with more than 16,000 military and civilian jobs associated with a U.S. Army installation that generates an estimated annual economic impact of $1.8 billion.

In 2012, the Army hoped to expand the installation's footprint by 50% with the purchase of an additional 100,000 acres. Fort Johnson currently covers more than 194,000 acres. Fort Johnson is the only Combat Training Center that also trains and deploys combat units.

Soldiers of Fort Johnson have been called to serve around the world in recent history. They fought in Panama during Operation Just Cause and in the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Storm. Of all brigade combat teams deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, 50% of them initially train at Fort Johnson.

The base is supporting the war on terrorism by providing contingency training for the Army's light infantry and special operations forces and by deploying home station and reserve component forces in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Noble Eagle, and Iraqi Freedom.

For more information, we recommend a visit to the Official Fort Johnson Website and Fort Johnson on Facebook.

Fort Polk History

Greetings from Fork Polk, Louisiana ... U.S. Army Training Center, Infantry

Leesville has long been the home of Fort Polk, a major U.S. Army camp since the 1940s. Originally known as Camp Polk, it began as an army base for the World War II Louisiana Maneuvers.

Other nearby facilities in Central Louisiana included Camp Livingston, Camp Claiborne, and Alexandria Army Air Field (England AFB).

Construction of Camp Polk began in 1941. Thousands of wooden barracks sprang up quickly to support an Army preparing to do battle on the North African, European and Pacific fronts. Soldiers at Polk participated in the Louisiana Maneuvers, which were designed to test U.S. troops preparing for World War II.


Leesville Area Airports

The Leesville Municipal Airport is located 4 miles west of town, on LA Highway 8, and features a 3,807 foot runway with pilot-controlled lighting and instrument approaches.

Located to the east of Leesville is Alexandria International Airport (AEX). Rental cars are available at AEX from Avis, National, and Budget.

Commercial airline carriers serving AEX include:

  • Delta Air Lines, which connects to its hub at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
  • American Airlines with connections to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
Leesville, Louisiana area map, courtesy of Google Maps


Leesville and Fort Johnson Links of Interest

City of Leesville

Vernon Parish Tourism Commission

Vernon Parish and Leesville at LouisianaTravel.com

North Toledo Bend State Park

South Toledo Bend State Park

Leesville Travel Guide at TripAdvisor

Fort Johnson

Earlier Times in Leesville Louisiana

Business Section, Leesville, Louisiana ... Circa late 1930s or early 1940s

Business Section, Leesville, Louisiana ... Circa late 1930s or early 1940s

Residence Scene, Leesville, Louisiana

Residence Scene, Leesville, Louisiana

Vernon Parish Courthouse, Leesville, Louisiana

Vernon Parish Courthouse, Leesville, Louisiana

Leesville Louisiana High School

Leesville Louisiana High School

Redwood Motel and Cafe, Leesville, Louisiana ... circa 1960s

Redwood Motel and Cafe, Leesville, Louisiana ... circa 1960s

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