A Louisiana vacation conjures images of Mardi Gras, jazz on the streets of New Orleans, and delicious food from Cajun country. However, many people don’t know that the state of Louisiana is an excellent camping destination. You only have to travel a few miles outside of major cities like Alexandria or Baton Rouge to reach stunning natural areas, perfect for a few nights in your tent. Louisiana State is home to one National Forest and 21 State Parks, as well as numerous recreation areas.
In this article, we’ll tell you all about the very best Louisiana campgrounds and tent camping spots. South Louisiana is known as the Sportsman’s Paradise, an area rich in wildlife and hunting and fishing opportunities. This state is known for its world-class fisheries and numerous exciting recreational opportunities, it’s an excellent destination for a memorable camping trip. The coast of the state is filled with salt marshes extending into the Mississippi River, while wetlands, swamp, and bayou provide a fantastic ecological habitat for a range of flora and fauna.
In this article, we’re going to tell you about the 7 best destinations in Louisiana for tent camping. The Bayou State has plenty of fantastic RV parks and deluxe glamping locations as well, but we’re limiting our list to the best tent camping experiences. All of these state parks and natural areas offer some of the best tent camping in Louisiana, there’s no better selection to choose from to pitch for the night. Read on to discover our top picks for your next camping getaway.
Why Camp in Louisiana?
Of all the American states to pitch your tent for the evening, Louisiana might not be your first pick. However, many people don’t know about some of the most fascinating and exciting natural areas that you can visit here! One such hotspot is the Atchafalaya River Basin; the largest swamp in the United States. This environment is so unique, it’s definitely worth taking a boating tour through the cypress trees and Spanish moss canopies. Our favorite camping option when visiting this area is Lake Fausse Pointe State Park, which we’ll tell you more about below.
The cities of Louisiana attract a lot of attention, but visitors rarely set their sights on more natural areas. So many people have no idea that just outside the city of Alexandria, a huge national forest supports rare wildlife seldom seen outside Louisiana! The unique swamps and habitats of this state make for stunning scenery and unparalleled wildlife watching opportunities, and that’s why every camper needs to visit Louisiana. Read on to find out more about 7 of the most interesting destinations you can choose from for your trip.
1. Grand Isle State Park
Grand Isle State Park covers the eastern tip of Grand Isle, a barrier island connecting the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. Barrier islands are created by tidal action which forms huge sand dunes, usually in chains of islands. Grand Isle is the only inhabited barrier island in Louisiana as they are often subject to serious change and damage. Barrier islands protect the lagoons, wetlands, and coastline from harsh sea weather, allowing wildlife to flourish. While Grand Isle State Park has been seriously affected by hurricanes in the past, much of the island has been renovated and beach restoration is ongoing.
One such post-Katrina repair was of Grand Isle’s famous fishing pier. This part of Louisiana is reputed for its prime fishing spots with access to a huge variety of fish. More than 280 species make their home off the coast, so anglers love this scenic fishing spot. Speckled trout can be caught in the surf, as well as redfish in the colder seasons. The inner channels of the Gulf of Mexico, connecting to bayou tributaries, are an excellent boat launching point for deep-sea expeditions. Grand Isle State Park is a prime destination for a fishing holiday. Birdwatching is also a popular draw to this Louisiana state park, as many rare and unique species migrate through the area each year.
There are 45 pull-through campsites in Grand Isle State Park campground, each offering water, and electrical hookups. However, the best tent camping in this Louisiana state park is found a stone’s throw away, where there are 14 additional beach campsites. While these camping spots don’t offer amenities, and visitors will have to hike in, to wake up to the sound of the ocean is worth it. Grand Isle State Park offers some of the best camping in Louisiana, and it’s a spot you need to cross off your list in haste. This area faces one of the world’s highest rates of sea-level rise, meaning the entire state park and island could soon be washed away.
2. Poverty Point Reservoir State Park
Two hours northeast of Alexandria is Poverty Point Reservoir, a 2700 acre man-made lake near to Bayou Macon. Poverty Point Reservoir State Park attracts plenty of campers, anglers, birdwatchers, and adventurers to its wild and rural country. The northwest corner of Poverty Point lake is home to the North Marina complex, where there’s a swimming beach, boat launch, and fishing pier. Popular targets for anglers include largemouth bass, catfish, and crappie (or sac-a-lait as they’re locally called).
You might be lucky enough to spot a Louisiana black bear while hiking in this state park, so keep your eyes peeled for these rare predators. An off-shoot of Bayou Macon features a short but scenic nature trail through Poverty Point Reservoir State Park, where as well as bears you can see a range of exotic birds. Just be careful when exploring and camping in bear country to use bear-proof containers and never leave leftover food behind.
Campers can choose from cabin rentals or even camping lodges, while more than 50 tent campsites with and without hookups are available. The south end of the park offers an additional 50 RV sites. Boat and canoe rental are available on-site, or more adventurous campers may want to try out jet skiing. If you need to be further convinced, Poverty Point historic site is within day-trip distance. It’s full of fascinating archeological features and rich with Native American History. For a diverse Louisiana camping experience visit Poverty Point Reservoir State Park.
3. Chicot State Park
Chicot State Park is an absolutely stunning wildlife reserve in central Louisiana, totaling 6400 acres of rolling hills surrounding 8 square kilometers of an artificial lake. Lake Chicot is stocked full of bluegill, crappie, red-ear sunfish, and bass which is why this Louisiana State Park is a prime anglers camping spot. Fishermen will enjoy the boathouse and fishing dock, with three convenient boat launches and rentals available. The marsh is also popular for kayaking and canoeing.
Mountain bikers love Chicot State Park as the hills and valleys provide an exciting challenge. There are plenty of biking trails as well as a hiking trail which encircles Lake Chicot, and primitive campsites are located nearby. This park is just a short drive from Ville Platte, and the Louisiana State Arboretum is also close by. This 600-acre preservation area is dedicated to indigenous Louisiana state wildlife, preserving wildlife and ecology so that future generations might enjoy the same breathtaking natural scenery.
Aside from the fantastic lakeside primitive campsites at Chicot State Park, there are nearly 200 tent and RV campsites, and several deluxe camping cabins. You can paddle from your camping spot down the 6.5-mile Bayou Macon to see the area from the water, or explore on foot using the prime hiking trails. This Ville Platte state park offers some of the best camping in Louisiana, with truly unbeatable views. Check out this scenic campground to take in the best of the Creole State.
4. Lake Fausse Pointe State Park
Lake Fausse Pointe State Park, near Breaux Bridge, occupies 6000 acres of the Atchafalaya Basin. Also known as the Atchafalaya Swamp, it’s the largest wetland and swamp in the United States. This area is filled with bayous, bald cypress swamps, and marshes, all of which provide a nourishing environment for a rich variety of wildlife. Bald eagles, osprey, river otters, and American Beavers all inhabit the Louisiana swamp, making it the perfect destination for any wildlife lover.
Campers can explore these wetlands via boat by using one of the handy launches in the park. The waterlogged forest creates a maze of water trails that are perfect to tackle in a kayak or canoe. If you decide to explore via boat, there is a selection of paddle-in canoe campsites with fire rings and tables for campers to check out. There are also several hiking trails that are also open to mountain bikers, with bridges over wetter parts of the path.
Eight primitive campsites are on offer at Lake Fausse Pointe State Park, all within a short walk of the main hiking trail. Aside from these wilder backcountry camping spots, this Louisiana state park offers RV park spots and 18 furnished camping cabins. We love the hike-in and boat-in campsites in this wetland because you can enjoy an authentic Louisiana swamp camping experience. Surround yourself with this vibrant wilderness and you may catch a glimpse of exciting wildlife like bobcats and armadillos.
5. Tunica Hills Wildlife Management Area
Located just northwest of the city of St Francisville, Tunica Hills WMA is made up of two areas which total more than six and a half thousand acres combined. This natural preserve is mostly rugged hills and bluffs, crisscrossed by rocky ravines. This wildlife area lies at the southern tip of the loess bluff lands where the uniquely diverse habitat supports different species of flora and fauna to the rest of Louisiana. A hardwood forest shelters at least 20 species of plants classified as rare in the state.
Birdwatching is a popular activity for campers visiting Tunica Hills; rare aviary species include the Coopers hawk and the worm-eating warbler. While you’re looking, you might even spot some adorable eastern chipmunks! A single nature trail and three established hiking trails are on offer to explore the area, with options for biking and equestrians. If you visit the Tunica Hills WMA, you have to stay at Tunica Hills Campground.
This camping spot is close to the Tunica Hills Waterfalls and the Clark Creek Natural Area. Nature lovers will love this campground, where every possible step has been taken towards the preservation of the area’s breathtaking natural beauty. Tent camping in Louisiana doesn’t get much better; each camping spot is equipped with a tent pad, fire ring, picnic table, and grill. Most offer electrical access, and amenities are portable toilets with a single hot shower.
6. South Toledo Bend State Park
South Toledo Bend is one of the newest state parks in Louisiana, it only opened to the public in 2004. Located in Anacoco, this park and its sister North Toledo Bend State Park have quickly become one of Louisiana’s premier camping destinations. This stunning state park sits on the southeast edge of Toledo Bend Lake, where the varied terrain makes exploring and taking in the spectacular views highly enjoyable.
A boat launch and fishing pier give visiting anglers plenty of spots to cast off. The reservoir holds bass, catfish, bream, and plenty of other targets. A swimming beach is also offered close to the camping area, and the nearby visitor center contains a museum full of indigenous wildlife exhibits where you can learn about the local habitat. Bald eagles are common visitors to Anacoco so make sure to keep an eye out for these majestic soaring predators.
Fifty-five tent campsites are on offer in South Toledo Bend State Park campground, most of which offer a phenomenal lakefront location. Each camping spot has hookups for water and electricity and is open to both tent and RV campers. The wash station includes bathrooms, showers, and laundry, located on-site. Our recommendation for the best tent camping would be to reserve one of the 5 tent campsites located out on a bluff, where the early sunrise views over the lake are spectacular.
7. Kisatchie National Forest
Kisatchie National Forest was designated in 1930 by President Herbert Hoover. It’s the only national forest in Louisiana, and one of the largest protected areas at more than 600,000 acres. The majority of the landscape is vital longleaf pine and Flatwoods vegetation, which shelter a diverse range of rare Louisiana flora and fauna. Rare animals including the Louisiana pine snake, the red-cockaded woodpecker, and the infamous Louisiana black bear make their home in this national forest.
A host of recreational activities attract thousands of visitors to Kisatchie National Forest. Opportunities for campers to enjoy this natural area are plentiful; there are more than 100 miles of trails ripe for exploration. Open to hikers, mountain bikers, and even equestrians, these fantastic trails cover nearly 1000 square miles of prime Louisiana countryside. Birdwatching and nature photography are popular pastimes because there’s so much to see in this national forest.
There are five ranger districts within Kisatchie National Forest, with abundant fishing opportunities in each. In the Caney District, you’ll find Corney Lake Recreation Area where there’s a 2600 acre reservoir. Kisatchie Bayou offers more covered fishing opportunities in contrast with the open water, so every angler can find the perfect spot. You can catch catfish, bass, perch, and more on a camping trip to Louisiana’s national forest.
Kisatchie Bayou Campground is located in the Kisatchie Bayou Recreation Complex, positioned just south of the park’s center. This out-of-the-way destination is a quiet camping area surrounded by rocky bayou and old hardwood trees, an idyllic and peaceful camping spot. All sites are primitive and walk-in only, guaranteeing a natural experience. Tent pads, fire pits, and toilets are provided, but it’s important to note that no potable water is available. Kisatchie Bayou Campground offers some of the best tent camping in Louisiana for campers who want to immerse themselves in nature.
From vast swamplands to aging pine forests, Louisiana is packed with areas of stunning natural beauty. Every kind of camper can find an idyllic destination from this selection of the best tent camping in Louisiana. If hiking is your priority, there’s no better option than Kisatchie National Forest. There are over 100 miles of trails with options for bikers and even equestrians, so wilderness exploration is an excellent recreational opportunity (just remember your GPS!).
Fishermen may watch to check out Grand Isle State Park, a barrier island that provides a hugely varied water habitat and makes angling opportunities abundant. An alternative option is the swampland of Lake Fausse Pointe State Park, yet another Louisiana destination with unparalleled recreation on the water.
Tunica Hills Campground is the perfect location if you want to see some exciting migratory bird action and enjoy some gorgeous hiking trails. Rare plants and animals are scattered through the rocky ravines and hilly bluffs of the Tunica Hills Wildlife Management Area, it’s a fantastic tent camping destination. There are so many options for campers visiting Louisiana, so the hardest part of your trip is making a decision! No matter your choice, any of the 7 best tent camping sites in Louisiana can offer a memorable and successful camping experience.
Bonus tip: Check out this video to learn about the rare Louisiana Black Bear!