Fontainebleau State Park
Guide

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Introduction

Named after a Parisian forest, Fontainebleau State Park is set on the former site of a sugar plantation in Southeastern Louisiana. This 2,800-acre park is located on beautiful Lake Pontchartrain, across from New Orleans. Upon arriving at this peaceful state park, you will be greeted with southern hospitality and 600-year-old moss-covered Spanish Oak trees. These majestic trees create a beautiful backdrop for photos, nature hikes, and lazy picnics.

There is so much to explore at Fontainebleau: go searching for gators on the boardwalk or check out the ruins of the old sugar mill. If you brought your bicycle, go for a ride on the Tammamy Trace Trail Way. After your adventure, relax and enjoy sunbathing on the white sand beach at Lake Pontchartrain. This shallow lake is ideal for kids and they can also play at the nearby splash park. The lake offers excellent fishing and crabbing, so don’t forget your fishing rod in your camper! Be sure to come back at sundown to catch the magnificent sunset view across the lake.

Fontainebleau State Park is the perfect place to camp in your RV while visiting New Orleans and the surrounding area. To get to the "Big Easy," you can take the remarkable 23-mile Pontchartrain Causeway, which offers an expansive view of Lake Pontchartrain, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Mississippi Delta. Built in 1956 and repaired after Hurricane Katrina, the causeway is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest continuous bridge over water. After checking out New Orleans, head to Covington for a day of antiquing and enjoy some of the best seafood around or check out the Global Wildlife Center where you can ride in a covered wagon and feed animals from the palm of your hand.

RV Rentals in Fontainebleau State Park

Transportation in Fontainebleau State Park

Driving

Located four miles east of Mandeville, Louisiana, Fontainebleau State Park is easily accessed from US 190. The park is only a short drive from New Orleans, across the lake on the Pontchartrain Causeway. This record-holding bridge is worth the round-trip toll. Be cautious on the bridge if you are in a large vehicle, as the lanes are narrow.

Before arriving at the park, make sure you stop in Mandeville to stock up on supplies, as there is no store in the park. If you are looking for a bite to eat, head north on US 190 to Covington or Abita Springs for delicious seafood and many family restaurants.

While driving through the park, there are many one-way roads with tight turns which may be difficult for big rigs to maneuver. Try to arrive in daylight so that you do not have to navigate these roads in the dark. The park has many low-hanging trees that add to its charm but can create clearance issues for bigger vehicles. When driving, try to stay in the middle of the road as much as possible to avoid damage to your vehicle from branches.

There are two large parking lots within the park, both of which offer easy access to aquatic activities. If you have your bicycle, enjoy riding on the paved roads throughout the park or take the Tammamy Rail Trail for three miles into Mandeville. Personal golf carts are permitted for use in the park, but you need to purchase a daily or annual permit.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Fontainebleau State Park

Campsites in Fontainebleau State Park

Reservations camping

Old Campground

The beautiful Old Campground has 44 campsites, most of which offer water and electric hookups. These paved campsites are better for bigger RVs as they are more spacious, however they do lack the some of the site amenities of the New Campground. Some of the sites at the Old Campground offer gorgeous views of the lake and easy access to all the aquatic activities you can enjoy at the park. Other sites are shaded in a majestic forest setting. You can enjoy the use of a fire ring or grill and picnic table during your stay. Reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance but can be made up to 13 months in advance. You're welcome to bring your pet with you during your stay. All pets must be kept on a leash while in the park. Dogs are not permitted near beach areas or inside facilities, unless they are service animals.

New Campground

This well-maintained state park has 23 premium campsites, 19 of which are pull-through sites. There is only one pull-through site with a sewage hookup, but there are four back-in sites with sewer, water, and electric hookups. In addition, there are 103 improved campsites with water and electric hookups. Some of the sites offer no hookups and are more suitable for tents.

Every site comes equipped with fire rings, grills, and picnic tables so you can enjoy dinner and a fire under the stars. The RV sites are all paved, though some of the asphalt may be broken so try to arrive in daylight hours in order to make sure your rig is level. The sites are quite small, so it can be tricky for bigger campers to maneuver. The outside pull-through sites tend to be longer and have more shade, so book these if you are able.

A definite perk of the park is the free laundry facilities. There is wi-fi in the park but it can be patchy at times, though the cell signal is strong with most cellular service providers. The bathrooms have lots of hot water and ice cold A/C, which you will appreciate if camping during the hot summer months. There is no store inside Fontainebleau State Park but all amenities are available in nearby Mandeville.

You're welcome to bring your pet with you during your stay. All pets must be kept on a leash while in the park. Dogs are not permitted near beach areas or inside facilities, unless they are service animals. There is an excellent dog park nearby at Pelican Bark Park if you want to let your dog run free for a while.

Plan ahead as this park is popular and books up quickly, especially on weekends. Reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance but can be made up to 13 months in advance. Please note that the reservation center is closed Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. There is so much to enjoy at Fontainebleau that you must stay a minimum of two nights on the weekend and three nights minimum for weekday stays. There is a fee for all reservations and there is a maximum capacity of six people per site. Even if you’re having fun, you can only camp at Fontainebleau for 14 straight days in a row.

First-come first-served

First-Come, First-Served

There are no first-come, first-served sites at this state park.

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Fontainebleau State Park

In-Season

Hiking the Nature Trails

Walk on the wild side with Fontainebleau’s nature trail. This one-mile boardwalk winds its way through the heart of the Louisiana swamp. You are almost guaranteed to see wildlife while on this leisurely walk. Don’t forget your camera or your binoculars in case you spot a gator - there are also two viewing decks with a telescope. The best time to see wildlife is in the early morning or late evening, but it is always interesting to wander through this intriguing swampland. There are often many children and families enjoying this trail.

There are a few other hiking loops that you can take if you want a longer trail. The two-mile Fontainebleau Loop is accessed from the Sugar Mill trail. This wide and easy trail connects with the Bayou Cane trail, which ends with a great view overlooking the bayou. The Bayou Cane trail tends to be a bit less busy than the nature trail so you are more likely to spot deer, racoon, rabbits, wild hogs, and maybe even an armadillo.

Fishing and Crabbing

Go get your fishing gear from your RV and head down to the pier! Lake Pontchartrain is known for its excellent fishing and crabbing. The lake, which is actually an estuary, is the largest inland body of water in Louisiana. It was created by the Mississipi Delta and it is home to a variety of saltwater and freshwater fish. Try out your luck fishing for speckled trout - it is common to catch big ones ranging from five to 12 pounds. You might also catch alligator gar, catfish, or redfish. If you are interested in recreational crabbing, Lake Pontchartrain is a good place to try out your crab trap as the lake is known for its blue crab.

Enjoying the Beach at Lake Pontchartrain

The beautiful white sand beach at Lake Pontchartrain will be a highlight of your RV trip to Fontainebleau State Park. The shallow waters of the lake make this an ideal beach for children to swim and play. Kids can build sandcastles or splash at the shallow shoreline. At its deepest point, the lake is only 10 feet but you can walk out 100 yards to only waist-deep water. The lake is freshwater but does receive some saltwater input from the Gulf of Mexico. Kids will also enjoy playing in the lakefront splash park and adults will also find the cool spray refreshing on a hot Louisiana afternoon. Please note the water playground is closed on Mondays for cleaning.

If you are travelling with your canoe or kayak, enjoy a short paddle over to the Mandeville Marina. At the waterfront, you can also have a BBQ or picnic lunch in one of the pavilions. The park maintains bathroom and shower facilities at the beach as well. If you don’t stay at the park, it is still worth it the park entrance fee to pull in your RV for the day and enjoy the beach!

Off-Season

Primitive Woodworking

Have you ever wanted to learn how to whittle? The Interpretive Rangers offer a weekly Primitive Woodworking course on Sunday afternoons at the Visitor’s Center. This year-round program includes an informative demonstration about the tools that nineteenth century settlers would have used to shape their handicrafts. Come learn how to use a shaving horse, draw knives, and other primitive tools, including using a froe to split wood. The rangers will demonstrate how to create paddles, wooden spoons, tool handles, and other useful items.

Hiking and Biking the Tammamy Trace Rail Trail

Ideal for avid cyclists, leisurely walkers, or hardcore runners, the 30-mile long Tammamy Trace is an excellent trail that passes through Fontainebleau State Park. This trail, which was originally part of the Illinois Central Railroad, is now a paved biking and hiking trail that runs parallel to US 190. This clean and well-maintained trail connects the towns of Mandeville, Covington, Abita Springs, and Lacombe.

From Fontainebleau, it is an easy three-mile ride to Mandeville, where you can enjoy a picnic lunch at one of their pavilions, cool off in the splash park, or enjoy a treat from the Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. You can also rent bikes in Mandeville or Covington. This trail is best enjoyed from October to March, when the weather is slightly cooler. If you are riding in the summer, be sure to pack lots of water. There are bathrooms at various parks and trailheads along the path.

Bird Watching

Bring your binoculars in your camper and spend a peaceful afternoon at Fontainebleau watching the birds. The park is an excellent habitat for a wide variety of birds because it is bordered by three bodies of water. This unique ecosystem is home to over 400 different species of birds. Grab a copy of A Birder’s Guide to Louisiana for detailed information and checklists about birds and other wildlife in the area. The nature trails in the park offer a chance to spot pelicans, egrets, and more. While you walk, be sure to read the interpretive signs to learn more about the surrounding biodiversity.

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