Campers touring the Pelican State will find ample free camping locations across the state. Alligators canoe their way through southern swamplands, thick forests blanket the north and you'll even find free camping directly on the Gulf of Mexico.
Free Beach Camping in Louisiana
Louisiana is one of only a handful of states where you'll find the kind of beach camping that actually puts your tires in the sand and an ocean view directly out your window. Both of these locations are found within an hour of one another, and they're both managed by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
Rutherford Beach, near Creole LA, is a wide-open beach with options to park on solid ground if you're skittish about driving your rig onto the sand. This parking lot area is still within a reasonable walking distance to the beach. Some campers also find the long road in to be a bit difficult to navigate, and should the area be fresh off of a hurricane, conditions can be even worse. Expect oodles of wildlife, including mosquitos, and little in the way of amenities.
Inversely, the drive to Holly Beach isn't quite as daunting, but in either case, it's probably best to arrive in the daytime so you can get a good handle on what you're about to drive on to. Sand, unlike dirt roads, can be much more difficult to gauge. This is also one of those peculiar cases where you're likely to get better service with T-mobile than AT&T, though Verizon users have had better luck.
When it comes to dispersed beach camping, both spots are some of the best you'll find in the Southeastern United States.
Free Camping in Louisiana's National Forests
The Kisatchie National Forest, which stretches patchwork from south of Alexandria all the way to the state's northern border, is home to the state's majority of free camping destinations. Some of these camping areas have modest amenities like fire rings and vault toilets, while the bulk of them are true dispersed camping. In nearly all cases, you'll be outside of a designated campground, surrounded by the dense shade of a pine forest, with no shortage of outdoorsy activities in which to partake.
One of Louisiana's nicknames is the Sportsman's Paradise, and with that in mind, expect these free camping options to be busier during hunting season. Some of the most popular, such as the Corney Lake Complex, become a veritable shooting range for parts of the year. Others, like Custis Camp, are small enough that you can either expect to be alone or have few neighbors.
Remember to bring your own water and any other supplies you'll need, don't expect to find a full-on camping spot or even a picnic table, and note that you'll be more or less camping in solitude with plenty of time to listen to the owls serenade the stars. Do your research, too, as while many of these locations have plenty of space for RV camping, others are better suited to smaller vehicles or car camping.
Exploring the national forest is a great way to experience Louisiana's small towns, where country drives and afternoons spent fishing a clear stream are only exemplified when you can also camp for free. Many of these spots will also put you in proximity to hiking trails, state parks, and all the family fun Louisiana has to offer.
More Free Camping in Louisiana
Near the town of Krotz Springs, Sherburne Wildlife Management Area hosts a couple of camping opportunities less than an hour west of Baton Rouge and the Mississippi River. This area adheres to the new trend in many states of requiring a camping pass (the Wild Louisiana Pass in this case) if you don't already have a hunting or fishing license, so note that before deciding to take this place up as your home for the night.
Outside of New Orleans, Bonnet Carre Spillway Campground offers free camping when hurricane season cooperates.
Some of the best free camping is that which you can access quickly and easily right from the highway. If you're simply looking for anywhere safe and sound to log a few hours of sleep before beginning your journey anew in the morning, rest areas, casinos, and businesses like Cracker Barrel and Sam's Club afford no shortage of this type of RV parking along both I-10 and I-20 as they cross the state.