Jimmie Davis State Park in the small town of Chatham, Louisiana is the place to visit for RV vacations. The park, nestled in a wooded pine forest that overlooks Caney Creek Reservoir, offers both beautiful sceneries combined with adventure and recreation.
Jimmie Davis State Park, named for the “You Are My Sunshine” singer and one of Louisiana’s most loved governors, is a favorite place for aquatic recreation. Located on a peninsula on the Caney Creek Reservoir, draws visitors from near and far because of the numerous explorable inlets and water-front views through the park. The lake, enjoyable from the surface, is also a must-visit for anglers because of what lies underneath the surface of the water. As of 2016, the most massive red ear sunfish and the fattest largemouth bass ever caught in the state of Louisiana were caught in the reservoir.
The area in and around the park is also known as one of Louisiana’s most scenic places to visit. The state’s highest peak, Driskill Mountain, is approximately 35 miles away from the park, and the hilly, tree-lined roads bring cyclists, hikers, and nature lovers to the area year-round. Aside from the recreation, the park sits close to three other Louisiana State Parks and many unique rural towns that entertain visitors with their museums, exciting history, and great places to eat.
Jimmie Davis State Park is right between LA-4 to the north and LA-34 to the south. The closest major highways are I-20, which is north of the park, US-65 to the east, and I-49 to the south and west. The park is located 94 miles southeast of Shreveport and 280 miles northwest of New Orleans. From Jackson, Mississippi, the park is located approximately 154 miles to the southwest.
Much of your traveling will likely be rural roads and can be dark, narrow, and winding. It is best to take your time and stay alert while driving. Take breaks at least every two hours or so, if you are the only one driving. Otherwise, you can switch drivers every so often. Before entering the park, all visitors must stop at the entrance station and pay the daily park fee. Louisiana State Parks collects a fee from all visitors over the age of three and under the age of 62.
Jimmie Davis State Park, a year-round facility, operates within the posted park hours. Hours of operation vary, so check with the park for the most up to date information. Gates close at night, so visitors need to be aware of these times to avoid any problems getting in and out of the campground.
The campground at Jimmie Davis State Park is a year-round, pet-friendly facility with 73 campsites. Each campsite has its own campfire ring, picnic table, and a tent pad. The paved, back-in spaces vary in length from 42 to 76 feet. Each site also has water and electricity hookups so you can cook indoors or out. Depending on the space, the power ranges from 20 to 50 amps. Of the 73 sites, 21 premium locations offer RVers a view of the lake.
The campground has a comfort station with modern restrooms and hot showers, and all campers can use the laundry facility and the dump station. Please observe quiet hours by silencing generators between the hours of 9 PM and 6 AM. Reservations can be made online or by phone from two days to 13 months in advance. When making your reservations, be aware that a minimum stay applies to certain days of the week.
If you are not bringing a pet with you on this trip, why not stay at one of the cabins? You will have to make a reservation, which can be done from 48 hours to 13 months in advance. You and seven other guests will have two bedrooms with one queen bed, two bunks, and a sofa sleeper with a queen bed. The kitchen has a stove, fridge, and microwave, as well as a dining table and chairs. All the cooking utensils and cookware are also provided.
Bedding and towels are also included, so all you need to bring is your food and personal supplies. The living room has a pull-out couch, lounge chair, and fireplace. There is also a flat screen television with cable and central air conditioning to keep you cool on those hot Louisiana summer days. Enjoy the cooler evenings on the screened porch where you can sit and watch the wildlife that comes out at night. A picnic table and fire ring are out in the yard if you want to enjoy an evening by the fire.
If you have a large family of more than eight people, reserve one of the deluxe lodges at Jimmie Davis State Park instead. Reservations are needed and can be made up to 13 months in advance. Unfortunately, your furbaby will have to miss out on this one because pets are not allowed in the lodges either. These lodges, located along the banks of the lake, can sleep up to 14 people with four bedrooms. Two bedrooms have queen beds while the other three have bunk beds.
The huge living room has two sofas with pullout queen beds and two cushy lounge chairs. With an open floor plan, the dining area and kitchen are connected to the living room, making the entire place seem much larger. The kitchen has a breakfast bar and full appliances, while the dining room has a large dining table that seats eight. The screened porch has seating as well where you and the group can sit out and enjoy the peace of the woods around you.
Located at the end of Acadia Road, the three group camp buildings can sleep up to 120 people each with eight bedrooms. Each of the bedrooms has six sets of bunk beds to sleep 12 in each room. Bedding is not included at the group camp. However, there is a laundry room and common area with several couches and cozy club chairs. Although there is no television, there is plenty of room for playing games or cards.
The group camp includes a separate dining hall, which houses a commercial kitchen with all appliances, restrooms, and seating for up to 120 guests. The covered porch wraps around the entire building so your group can enjoy the outdoors even if the weather is not cooperating. The large yard has picnic tables and a fire ring so you can have a campfire with the group. Both buildings have central air and heat and smoke detectors. No pets are allowed, and you will have to make reservations, which can be done up to 13 months in advance.
Children ages seven and older who are interested in learning about the outdoors and Louisiana’s State Parks and historic sites can become Junior Rangers. Participants should pick up a Junior Ranger punch card and attend any of the state-park sponsored activities, where they will receive credit for each event. After three events, participants can turn in their punch card and earn the Junior Ranger Handbook. The handbook contains the information on how participants can receive their Junior Ranger personalized certificate. Talk with a park ranger for more details.
Community involvement is essential to the Louisiana park system. The park promotes and hosts a series of events throughout the year intended to bring the park’s visitors and the community together. Some of the programs take place on-site, and they are meant to educate and entertain people on topics that are important to the area. As well as programs and events, the park also holds annual celebrations and parties. If you are visiting during one of these events, you can get more information from the park office. Check the calendar, as events are always changing.
Bring your comfortable shoes and spend the day outside at the park. The designated multi-use hiking and biking trail inside of the park is a short half-mile trail suitable for many different ability levels. While out on your walk or bike ride, look for wildlife and enjoy the lush Louisiana forest, or walk to one of the sheltered picnic areas for lunch. Spending time in nature is what makes this park so enjoyable, and because the trail isn’t long, you can get outside and repeat your walk many times during your trip.
Fishing is a popular attraction on Caney Creek Reservoir, specifically big bass fishing. Although the park doesn’t have boat rentals, visitors can bring boats and access one of the park’s two boat launches and spend their days with their poles in the water. If boat fishing isn’t for you, you may cast your reel from the park’s pier and bring your catch to the fish cleaning area. All anglers over the age of 16 must possess a valid recreational fishing license. Contact the Louisiana Department of Wildlife or the park’s office for more information.
One of the most popular attractions in the park is the family-friendly water playground located at the swim beach. Bring your swimsuits and spend the warm days splashing on the splash pad and cooling off in the water. The water playgrounds operate seasonally and close one day during the week for cleaning and maintenance. For playground hours or other information, contact the park directly. Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen and swimsuits in the rig before heading to Jimmie Davis State Park.
Birdwatching is plentiful in the state of Louisiana. Bring your binoculars and pick up a bird guide to find the species of birds that inhabit the area. Birding checklists and guides birdwatchers with many of the tools they might need to spot birds such as waterfowl and other migratory species. Ask the park office for more information on the most recently spotted birds in the area.