U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

Delta National Forest


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Forest Information

Visit Date: 10/2/2009

The Delta National Forest, located in west-central Mississippi, is comprised of 59,000 acres. It has no developed campgrounds but there are 80 semi-developed designated dispersed campsites discussed below.

The Delta National Forest (NF) is special and unusual among national forests. By the 1980s, less than 20 percent of Mississippi River's original forested wetlands remained and much of that was in the Delta NF, a "green jewel" in the Yazoo River Basin of the Lower Mississippi Valley (LMV). While much of the LMV has been altered with drained swamps and levees built to harness the mighty Mississippi River, the Delta NF protects the LMV's delta ecosystem. Special areas, called Greentree Reservoirs, have been established within the Delta NF to reduce man's negative impact to waterfowl and other wildlife who make the Delta their home. In these areas, man mimics nature's cycle of flooding and receding waters. But there is a potential for problems because of these actions.

Care must be taken with the man-made winter "deep" flooding period. The abundance of water can affect the species of trees growing in the forest. For example, Nuttail oak, a species preferred by wildlife and needed for its timber, does not tolerate prolonged flooding. When it dies the Overcup oak, a more water-tolerant species, replaces the Nuttail oak. The problem is the Overcup's acorn is too large for ducks to eat. The lack of food means a reduction in the duck population. This is only one example of the balancing act the Forest Service must try to maintain to keep the Delta NF healthy and productive.

A healthy and productive Delta NF means robust populations of wildlife, trees and other vegetation. Just as the Nuttail oak is important to the ducks of the Delta NF, the Bald cypress trees growing along the water ways are important to birds. The Bald cypress, a relative of the Redwood, is important to the crane and songbirds that visit the Delta NF on their annual migrations.

Come midsummer, human visitors to the Delta enjoy the amazing sights of thousands of butterflies providing flashes of color against lush green foliage (some visitors participate in an annual butterfly count). About the same time, hundreds of song birds fill the air with their melodies. The Forest provides essential habitats for a diverse array of woodland birds. Located in the Mississippi Flyway, the largest migration track in North America, the Delta's forested wetlands offer migrating waterfowls a place to rest and enjoy the land's bounty. Sharing the habitat with the waterfowl, are many neotropical migratory bird species, such as Summer Tanagers and Prothonotary Warblers. Little wonder the Delta is a popular location for bird watchers. All this wildlife is attractive and made welcome by the Delta NF's diverse and supportive habitat.

Legend has it, in 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt was in the area (reportedly somewhere near Little Sunflower Recreation Area) hunting bears when the idea of the teddy bear toy was created. Although bears once roamed throughout the state, the black bear population is estimated to be about 75 animals, so sightings in the Delta are rare. To celebrate Roosevelt's 1902 Bear Hunt there is an annual Great Delta Bear Affair in Rolling Fork, MS

In many ways, the Delta NF with its 60,000 contiguous acres of bottomland hardwoods and forested wetlands, is one huge campground. Eighty semi-developed designated dispersed campsites are scattered throughout the Delta NF. Each campsite has a cleared and level area where campers can park their vehicle and pitch a tent. They also have a picnic table, fire ring and lantern pole. Potable (drinking) water, however, is available only at the Forest's work center on Forest Rt. 703 near Site #19. The only vault toilets in the Forest are at Blue Lake and Little Sunflower recreation areas and at a few trailheads.

A map showing each of the 80 campsites' location and number is available at the ranger district office in Rolling Fork, MS. While GPS coordinates are not yet available for all 80 campsites, the following page displays eight of the campsites the authors surveyed

Two points should be stated. While hiking is possible, the Delta's trail system is designed more for ATV enthusiasts (Contact the ranger district office for trail information, conditions, and restrictions.) Although the Delta NF has lots of water, it is basically a swamp so boating is limited to the style best suited for a relaxing day of fishing.

In the Forest Service, only the Delta National Forest has a bottomland hardwood ecosystem but there is more then this one feature that makes this lush stretch of green in the Lower Mississippi Valley unique. If you are up to a semi-developed dispersed type of camping experience, you will realize all that make the Delta National Forest one of a kind.


Site # GPS Coordinates Comments
2 N32 56.183,W090 42.892 Dowling Bayou and McCann
Bayou trailheads
4 N32 55.271,W090 42.390 Joe Blout and Cypress Lake
5 N32 54.801,W090 42.410 Joe Blout and Cypress Lake
10 N32 52.162,W090 45.570 String of Lakes and Basket
Road trailheads
14 N32 51.074,W090 45.663 Big Sunflower River trailhead
19 N32 48.631,W090 47.255 Work Center with potable
water is nearby
77 N32 44.661,W090 48.577 Barge Lake Kay Cypress
79a N32 49.285,W090 48.540 Blue Lake Recreation Area
with nature trail, boat ramp
and vault toilet. No travel
trailers; detach towable
from RV before entering -
maximum length 28 ft.
Click on a Site# for picture.

1. The table represents a sample of the 80 
   semi-developed designated dispersed 
2. All campsites displayed in the table are 
   combined (tent or RV)
3. Elevation for the campsites in the table is 100 ft.
4. Trailheads are nearby.

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SUPERVISOR ADDRESS Suite 500-N 200 S. Lamar St Jackson, Mississippi 39201 601-965-1600 RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESS Delta 68 Frontage Road Rolling Fork, Mississippi 39159 662-873-6256

Fred and Suzi Dow