Louisiana is known for its vibrant Creole and Cajun culture, jazz music and Mardi Gras festival – and some of the most unique landscapes in the country. From the mighty Mississippi River to tranquil bayous, rivers, lagoons and sloughs to explore by canoe or kayak, there’s plenty of opportunity for outdoor adventure. This is our pick of the best places to go camping in Louisiana, from secluded sites accessible only by water to luxury canvas tents secluded amid forests.
Chicot State Park
Chicot State Park in South Central Louisiana is set apart from the other parks in the state thanks to the Louisiana State Arboretum, which has a mature beech-magnolia forest, an outdoor classroom and several miles of educational nature trails. The 6,400-acre (2,589ha) park is also home to Lake Chicot, which is known for exceptional fishing. An extensive hiking and mountain-biking trail encircles the lake, winding through the beautiful hardwood forest. Fancy pitching a tent? The park offers a variety of camping options, including eight luxury canvas tents for glamping, cabins, campsites and backcountry sites.
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Chicot State Park Site A
Escape into the woods at Chicot State Park Campsite A, which features a canvas tent secluded amid mature trees that offer welcome shade in summer months. Still feeling the heat? The tent is just a five-minute walk from the Splash Pad, a small water park with fountains kids will love. Guests will also have easy access to hiking and cycling trails, as well as fishing and boating on Lake Chicot. While the tent includes a bed and furnished deck, you’ll need to bring your own bedding and firewood – and keep in mind there’s no electricity available at the site.
Lake D’Arbonne State Park
This majestic park in North Louisiana is 655 acres (265ha) of pristine natural landscape – think towering pine forests perfect for picnicking, rolling hills laced with hiking and cycling trails, and the sprawling Lake D’Arbonne. The lake is popular for swimming, boating and water skiing, and it offers world-class fishing, with record freshwater catches of bass, crappie, catfish and bream. Fancy staying overnight in the park? There are 10 glamping sites with canvas tents, as well as the option of premium campsites with water and electricity.
Lake D’Arbonne State Park Site A
Planning a cosy couple’s getaway? This luxury canvas tent is nestled amid pine trees in the heart of Lake D’Arbonne State Park, and features a furnished timber deck, queen-size memory foam bed and a propane tent heater. The site also has a picnic table and fire pit for a romantic al fresco dinner under the stars. There’s the opportunity for walks through the piney woods, or to go boating on the nearby Lake D’Arbonne. If you’re travelling with kids or as a group, there’s also an additional pop-up tent, but you’ll need to pack your own mattress.
Lake D’Arbonne State Park Site H Double Tent Site
This site at Lake D’Arbonne State Park features two canvas tents, plus the option of an additional pop-up tent, making it ideal for family camping trips, couples traveling together, or larger groups of friends. The site itself is tucked away in a clearing and features a picnic table, fire pit with grill, solar shower and toilet, and guests also have access to the swimming pool, lighted tennis complex, disc golf course and visitor center.
Lake Claiborne State Park
At the heart of Lake Claiborne State Park is a 6,400-acre (2,589ha) lake teeming with fish and boasting a pretty sandy beach on an inlet protected from boats and water skiers. The crystal-clear waters are ideal for swimming or paddling around in a rented canoe, and the surrounding woods have nature trails and a scenic overlook. Want to learn more about the park? The park naturalists are on hand to present educational nature-based programs and lead guided hikes through the rolling landscape. There are two-bedroom cabins nestled among the pine trees, an RV campsite – and even a lakeside canvas tent accessible only by canoe or kayak.
Lake Claiborne State Park Site H
In search of adventure? This private campsite on the shores of Lake Claiborne is accessible only by kayak or canoe – so you’ll need to either bring your own or rent one from the main park office. The cosy canvas tent is perfectly located for swimming, boating, water skiing and hiking, or to simply relax on the sandy beach. It’s a particularly good choice for keen fishers, as the freshwater lake is stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill sunfish, channel catfish, black crappie, striped bass, chain pickerel, bream and white perch. The tent is furnished with a queen-size bed, and there’s an additional pop-up tent available for extra guests.
Caney Lake, Jimmie Davis State Park
Fancy lazing on a sandy beach in North Louisiana? Head to Caney Lake in Jimmie Davis State Park. The shoreline of the lake, which lies at the heart of the park, features a stretch of beach with a roped-off swimming area protected from boats and water skiers. The lake also has two boat launches and is a popular spot for freshwater fishing and waterskiing. Around the lake, you’ll find a pine and hardwood forest with a network of hiking and cycling trails, as well as campsites for tents and RVs, cabins, and luxury canvas tents, many with views over the lake.
Jimmie Davis State Park Site D
Right on the shore of Caney Lake, this campsite features a canvas tent with queen-size bed, side tables and a tent heater. The lake is a popular spot for freshwater fishing, so you can catch your own dinner and cook it up on the grill over the fire pit back at camp. And there’s no better place to enjoy your catch than the furnished timber deck of the tent, which overlooks the water. If you’re travelling with kids, there’s an additional pop-up tent available, and the park has a playground and fun water features for hot days.
South Toledo Bend State Park
This pretty state park is located on several bluffs that extend into the Toledo Bend Reservoir, which at 185,000 acres (74,866ha) is the largest man-made body of water in Louisiana. The reservoir is known for its excellent fishing – particularly largemouth bass – and there are several tournaments held every year. The plentiful fish also attracts bald eagles, which nest in the surrounding area. Another highlight of the park is the open-air breezeway that leads to an observation deck with views over the lake and nearby islands. There’s also an extensive campground offering canvas tents, cabins, campsites and RV camping areas.
South Toledo Bend State Park Site B
Set on a small peninsula at Hippie Point, a lake beach that overlooks Toledo Bend Reservoir, this family-friendly campsite offers prime fishing, beautiful lake beaches and plenty of nearby hiking trails. The site, a short walk from the main beach parking lot, is hike-in only. It features a canvas tent with a bed, a water jug, camping toilets, heater, fire pit and solar shower, but you’ll need to carry in everything else you need, including food, firewood and bedding. There’s also a comfort station with a bathroom and showers a short stroll from the car park.
Franklinton in southern Louisiana has small-town charm, epitomized by the festivals held throughout the year – including the Washington Parish Free Fair, Pioneer Christmas and Mardi Gras. There’s also plenty of local farms, particularly for watermelons and blueberries, where you can pick-your-own produce. The Bogue Chitto State Park is just a 10-minute drive away, and has more than 7mi (11km) of nature trails, 14mi (23km) of equestrian trails, 11 lakes stocked with freshwater fish, a river for kayaking, tubing and paddling, a disc golf course, and plenty of campsites.
Bogue Chitto State Park Site I
Keen horse riders will love this campsite at Bogue Chitto State Park, which is located in the equestrian area of the park. Here, 14mi (22km) of equestrian trails wind through some of southern Louisiana’s most interesting landscapes – think scenic river systems, pretty streams, cypress-tupelo swamps, forests and rolling hills. The campsite itself features a standard canvas tent with a queen-size bed, as well as a bathhouse, campfire pit and picnic tables. There’s also fun to be had on the Bogue Chitto River, which has a canoe and tubing launch, fishing piers and a water playground.
Grand Isle State Park
This state park on a narrow barrier island, in the Gulf of Mexico, is known for its beautiful beaches and lagoons that connect to the bayou tributaries of the Mississippi River – but it’s perhaps even more famous for the fishing on offer. It’s the launching point for deep-sea saltwater fishing trips, and surf fishers can catch speckled trout and redfish. The island is also one of the best places in the world to see migrating birds flying north in the spring and south in the fall – an event celebrated by the annual Grand Isle Migratory Bird Celebration. Enjoy everything the park has to offer from the Lagoon Campsite, which is just moments from the shore.
Fontainebleau State Park
Once a sugar-cane plantation, Fontainebleau State Park has been transformed into 2,800 acres (1,113ha) of wilderness for outdoor adventure. On the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, just one hour from New Orleans, the park is surrounded by water on three sides – Lake Pontchartrain, Bayou Cane and Bayou Castine – and offers the opportunity for fishing, swimming, boating, and relaxing on the sandy beach. There’s also nature trails to explore and the Tammany Trace, an old railroad track that’s been converted to a path for biking, walking or skating. Book a stay at a quaint lakeside cabin, or enjoy the rustic charm of the park campsites, including one that can be reached only by canoe or kayak.
Fontainebleau State Park Site H
Embrace your adventurous side and escape to this Fontainebleau State Park campsite, which is accessible only by canoe or kayak. It’s a 15-minute paddle from the launch point, and the site has a private beach and views over Lake Pontchartrain – on a clear day, you might even be able to see New Orleans in the distance. The canvas tent has a private deck and a fire pit with a grill for gathering around at night. Just remember, you’ll need to bring your own canoe or kayak, or rent one in advance from Bayou Adventure! in the park.
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