Heart of Louisiana: Grand Isle State Park

Updated: Mar. 30, 2021 at 9:50 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - It’s a place where you can enjoy a day at the beach, camp with the family or catch saltwater fish from a pier. And you don’t have to leave Louisiana to do it.

We go to the end of Highway 1 for a visit to Grand Isle State Park.

Louisiana’s southern most state park sits at the end of a barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico.

“We have a lot of people here who come for camping. We have a lot of regulars in our campground. We have an RV campground with 49 sites and then we also have 14 tent camping sites on the beach,” says park manager, Jody Crochetiere.

Jorge Blanco of Kenner and his family are frequent visitors.

“Well, it’s gorgeous. I mean, I love the fishing and especially crabbing here in this area,” says Blanco.

You get a bird’s-eye view of the beach from the top of an observation tower.

“Once you climb to the top, you get a really nice bird’s-eye view of the entire park and you can look out from there and you can actually see Fort Livingston from there on our neighboring island, Grand Terre,” says Cochetiere.

The tower anchors a 900-foot-long fishing pier, the length of three football fields. It puts you above the water of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a popular spot for salt water fishing.

“I’m pretty sure we’re going to catch something today. We’re going to eat tonight,” says Tyler Lewis. “We’re looking for trout. Some reds, you know, maybe a sheephead or two.”

This state park faces the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Rock jetties help protect the beach from erosion.

“Since they put the rocks it’s helped a lot with the erosion. But, like for the storms and stuff, some of the levees get messed up,” says Sheila Bradberry.

This barrier island has been battered by gulf storms and hurricanes. In fact, the deadliest storm in Louisiana history struck here in 1893.

That tragic record setting hurricane wiped out the nearby coastal settlement of Chenier Caminada.

The late 19th century storm blasted ashore without warning destroying nearly every structure and killing 2000 coastal residents.

In Grand Isle’s cemetery you can still see the brick tombs of some of the victims of that 1893 hurricane.

Away from the beach, you find nature trails that take you through the island woods and along a saltwater marsh. It’s a place that’s alive with songbirds, wading birds and summer flowers.

“People enjoy coming out here to pick berries in the Spring,” says Crochetiere. “There’s blackberries, an abundance of mulberries. People come to the nature trails. A lot of birders.”

Grand Isle is unique among Louisiana State Parks with its gulf beach and marsh habitat and its vulnerability to the forces of nature.

To learn more about Grand Isle State Park and other state parks and hiking trails, visit HeartofLouisiana.com.

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