Nestled on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain and boasting over 2800 acres of natural beauty, Fontainebleau State Park is an expansive and diverse state park and camping destination for anyone in the metropolitan New Orleans area. Located only 45 minutes from New Orleans, just across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Mandeville, LA, this state park has something to appeal to everyone who wants to enjoy the natural landscape that helps Louisiana earn its title of “Sportsman’s Paradise.”
Fontainebleau State Park’s campground is one that seem to fall back on when we need a quick getaway and want to feel like we are isolated, but don’t want to travel too far from home. This state park also boasts many amenities and activities for every interest and occasion and its unspoiled landscape, abundant wildlife, and overall atmosphere make it an ideal location for a quick weekend to reconnect with your family. Not only is Fontainebleau only 45 minutes from New Orleans, but it is also very near the towns of Mandeville, Abita Springs, and Covington and provide short drives to many other attractions, restaurants and even shopping should the need arise.
This large, sprawling state park, which has a plethora of centuries old, moss covered oak trees, a view of Lake Pontchartrain, and an abundance of wildlife does not disappoint visitor when it comes to providing a serene, natural atmosphere. Because the park is on Lake Pontchartrain, it’s beauty is not solely attributed to its forestation; it also has wonderful views of the lake, a small beach and swim area, and a fishing pier for those who wish to attempt to catch their dinner. There is also a small fishing pond, but be careful, as there are often alligators wading in this area. Depending on the time of day, you can drive or bike along the parks many roads and find deer grazing peacefully; this is likely one of our favorite parts of camping at Fontainebleau. We have seen many beautiful sunsets and sunrises at this park and have many fond memories from these trips.
Fontainebleau has two large campgrounds available, with around 150 campsites available. If you are looking for larger campsites with more shade, then the North Campground which includes sites 0-99 is the way to go. If you are looking to have sites that are close together (perhaps for a family get together, etc) the campsites in the South Campground would be more suited to your needs. We have camped in both sections and prefer the “new” campground… this area’s sites are much roomier, have ample shade and almost all are paved and somewhat level. A few sites are a little tricky to back into and some may be gravel and a little bit unlevel. Overall, though, the sites are roomy and shaded and bathhouses are centrally located in each camping loop. As with other state parks, the one drawback to Fontainebleau’s campground is that there are NOT full hookups available. There are only a few campsites that have sewer hookups and those are rarely available. Campsites also come with a fire ring/grill and a picnic table. It is worth noting that in 2017, the Louisiana Office of State Parks increased campground fees by $10/night which was a significant hike in charges when paired with the additional $6.00 reservation fee and taxes. RV Campsites at Fontainebleau range now range from $28.00 to $33.00, depending on the season bringing the total charges for a weekend visit up to $69.00-$82.00, respectively. This is a large reason why our visits to Fontainebleau have waned in the last year or so; while we really love the park and its features, the cost for a campsite vs. the value isn’t comparable, given that there are not sewer hookups available. It is also worth noting that there are cabins available for rent at Fontainebleau. They are fairly new and refurbished after sustaining damage during Hurricane Isaac and are located on the lakefront, with stunning views of the lake. All are well equipped and available for a fee. Also, it is worth noting that the staff is relatively limited or small in recent years; we have only seen one or two rangers on our visits and one or two representatives at the main gate. The only time we encountered rangers was when they drove through the campground to enforce quiet hours or just drive through during the day.
Bathhouses are all centrally located within the campground loops and are well maintained and equipped. They are air conditioned and/or heated and are cleaned regularly. The showers are decent sized and the water has always been warm and has decent pressure. The dressing rooms and showers are also spacious. Given that there is no sewer hookups, we frequently use the bath houses and have no complaints, there is always soap, paper towels, and toilet paper stocked and they remain clean.
When it comes to amenities at this campground, there are many ways to occupy your time in this beautiful, natural environment. Within the campground, there is a large playground that is great for all ages. The playground is surrounded by river pebbles, though, so if you have a little one, this could be an issue. There are several hiking trails that are clearly marked with educational information on native species as well as stunning views of the marsh and forest around the park. Also, it is fun to note that there are several geocaches hidden through the grounds of Fontainebleau, should you wish to take on that adventure! There are not any specific biking trails, but there are many paved roads through the park and campground as well as the Tammany Trace bike trail which is near the entrance of the park. A 20 MPH speed limit is enforced through the park and a 10 MPH speed limit is also required within the campground, to ensure safety of children. During the main day use area of the park, there is another play ground as well as a splash park for the summer months. As of April, the splash pad is open and working. It is closed on Mondays for maintenance. There is also a nice size beach on the lakefront as well as a fishing pier and picnic pavilions.
We have always enjoyed our visits to Fontainebleau State Park, specifically for the experience of enjoying its natural, unspoiled landscape and the close proximity to home. Unfortunately, though, the rising expenses without any increase in campsite amenities make camping here less than ideal when there are comparable campsites at parks in Mississippi that are less expensive and have full hookups. If you don’t mind having to dump your grey water and blank tank several times through a weekend or you are camping in a tent, Fontainebleau State Park is a great destination for a nice weekend getaway only 45 minutes from New Orleans!
CAMPSITES: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
AMENITIES: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
PARK STAFF: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
BATHHOUSES: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
CLEANLINESS: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
OVERALL RATING: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 1/2