Published: Spring 2011

Jimmie Davis State Park, Chatham, Louisiana  

When you have water covering about one-fifth of its land area, a day of fun on the water is a short drive from just about any point on the Louisiana map. Jimmie Davis State Park in Chatham, Louisiana is a true sportsman's paradise. Located 45 minutes southeast of Monroe in Jackson Parish, Caney Lake is a pristine 5000 acre reservoir created in 1986 by damming Caney Creek and opened as a state park in 1996. (Note to Paul – insert parkslogo150 here) With state parks around the country celebrating 75 years, Jimmie Davis is a youngster. It was named Caney Creek Lake State Park but it was renamed seven years later in honor of the former Louisiana governor Jimmie Davis, who came from nearby Quitman. Native fish in the creek and adjacent borrow pits, including some whopper bass, spread into the new habitat created by the rising water and multiplied. Although it hasn't been around for 75 years, Caney Lake is an historic place. Caney Lake near Chatham in Jackson Parish set the Louisiana bass world on fire in the early 1990's and quickly became a trophy bass lake. Holding eight of the ten top angler records in the state, landing a big one is almost a sure thing. Read more about its history at You'll find a good deal of information how state biologists intensively managed the new lake to produce big largemouth bass. One thing's for sure, pros and novices alike from all over are attracted to its wriggly lure and the thrill of landing the next giant largemouth bass. Camp visitor, Todd Ballance said, "The lake is beautiful and the fish are big."

After a fantastic day of fishing troll back to camp and enjoy an afternoon swim or an evening bike ride. The beach area is huge and is quite popular on those beautifully hot Louisiana summer days. An evening bike ride is a must, with the several miles of country lanes and roads found within the park. Don't forget your binoculars to see the abundant wildlife, including white-tailed deer, raccoon, opossum, squirrels, rabbits, and waterfowl.

Jimmie Davis State Park is set on a mixed pine-hardwood forested peninsula of Caney Creek Lake and provides water access with two boat launches and a fishing pier. Accommodations are provided with 17 deluxe cabins, 2 deluxe lodges for larger groups, and 73 campsites. The cabins and premium campsites are all located near the waterfront. It's been said that the best way to experience nature in many parts of Louisiana is not behind the wheel of a car or on foot, but from a boat. One recent visitor to the park said, "(A) very clean state operated park. Nice sandy beach, bountiful wildlife and waterfowl. (You'll experience) some of the best fishing in Louisiana." Another visitor said, "We stayed here twice in the past two months. If you want the feel of being in the woods…this is your place. I plan on making it one of my regular campgrounds." And still another visitor said, "We stayed here three days and loved it. If you like antiques, it's just a short drive into Monroe and its many shops."

If you feel the urge to venture out of the camp grounds, you'll find lots of activities nearby. The Christmas Wonderland in the Pines is just 15 miles south of the park on LA4 in Jonesboro. It's Jackson Parish's lighting display and annual celebration which begins on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving and runs through January 1. Festivities include a parade on Saturday with the official lighting of millions of tiny lights on businesses and residences. Race enthusiasts don't have to miss out while staying at the park. A mere 9 miles east of the park off Hwy 4, sits the Chatham FastTrax Speedway. This ¼ mile semi-banked dirt track hosts Saturday night racing between March and October. Campers can visit the park's namesake, Jimmie Davis Tabernacle, just 15 miles west of the park on Hwy 542, between Jonesboro and Quitman. It was built in 1964 by friends of Jimmie Davis, who served two terms as Governor of Louisiana. It is built on the old Davis home place and annually hosts the Jimmie Davis Homecoming the first Sunday in October.

Louisiana State Parks are participating in a Geocaching adventure. This cache, sponsored by LAOSP and Louisiana Geocachers, challenges participates to visit each of Louisiana's State Parks and Historic Sites. Each one has a unique special mission with a story to tell, and offers its own very special Geocaching adventure for you to experience. Each park and historic site has an official Geo Project cache, containing a special clue for you to find and record. These clues collectively, will enable you to determine the coordinates of the mystery location of the Final Cache, located somewhere in the State of Louisiana. For more information and to read the rules of the Geo Project click this link.

Geocaching is a wonderful family experience that is fun and adventurous.

Reservations to Louisiana's State Parks can be made online. Louisiana provides one of the better systems in the southeast for cabin reservations. Book your reservation to Jimmie Davis State Park here.

So if you're planning on going, here are your directions. From Chatham, take LA4 West 4.1 miles to Lakeshore Drive which leads to 1209 State Park Road. From Jonesboro, take LA4 East 12.8 miles to Lakeshore Drive which leads to 1209 State Park Road, approximately 20 minutes away.

So don't be left out. Get out there and experience nature under the stars and all that Louisiana has to offer at Jimmie Davis State Park. See the contact information below if you have any questions. Speak directly to a ranger who's always ready to serve. Happy Camping!

State Park Contact Information:

Jimmie Davis State Park
1209 State Park Road
Chatham, Louisiana 71226
Phone: 318-249-2595
Toll Free: 888-677-2263
Reservations: 877-226-7652