Louisiana has 21 state parks, each one worthy of a road trip. While state parks are a wonderful way to get outdoors and spend some time immersed in nature, our national wildlife refuges often get overlooked. Whether you like to fish, hunt, or just enjoy the scenery, these are the most beautiful national wildlife refuges in Louisiana that are perfect for when you need to get away from it all.
1. Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge
Fishing and hunting are both popular pastimes at this NWR. Public boat ramps are located in several areas of the refuge, including Harrell Lake and the Finch Bayou Recreation Area. Wildlife photographers will enjoy getting the opportunity to see countless songbirds as well as deer, turkeys, snakes, and even the occasional black bear.
Address: Marion, LA, 71260
2. Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge
Tucked away in the backwoods of St. Francisville, Cat Island is home to the largest tree of any species east of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. This massive Bald Cypress clocks in at an impressive height of 96 feet and a circumference of 56 feet, and is estimated to be about 1,500 years old. Follow the Big Cypress Trail to catch a glimpse of it, as well as the surrounding bottomland hardwood forest.
Address: St. Francisville, LA, 70775
3. Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge
Located in central Louisiana, Catahoula is comprised of more than 25,000 acres that are perfect with you need to spend some time outdoors. The one-mile scenic trail will take you on a beautiful journey through the bottomland forest, and for those who’d rather not get out of the car, you can also drive town Duck Lake Wildlife Auto Drive, a nine-mile scenic road.
Address: 210 Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge Road, Jonesville, LA, 71343
4. D’Arbonne National Wildlife Refuge
Located north of West Monroe, this NWR was established in 1975 to protect the bottomland hardwood forest and provide a winter habitat for migratory water birds. Visitors to D’Arbonne also have the opportunity to see alligators, bats, and possibly a bald eagle or two.
Address: 11372 LA-143, Farmerville, LA, 71241
5. Red River National Wildlife Refuge
For those in the northwestern part of the state, a visit to this NWR is an absolute must for those times when you just need to get away from it all. One of the newer refuges in Louisiana, this Bossier City natural oasis was established in 2000 and new public areas and opportunities are constantly being added as funding is acquired. Lake Caroline provides hours of fishing fun for those with a rod and reel, and wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy all of the alligators, wood ducks, butterflies, and other migratory birds.
Address: 150 Eagle Bend Point, Bossier City, LA, 71112
6. Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge
One of the best ways to explore this scenic refuge is by strolling down the Cypress Creek Trail and the Observation Tower Trail. Of course, hunting and fishing are also popular. A boat launch is located off of Poole Road and a canoe/kayak launch is located on the Wallace Lake Unit for those looking to explore the refuge at their own pace through the waterways.
Address: 3391 Poole Road, Ferriday, LA, 71334
7. Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Fishing, hunting, nature walks…you can do it all at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The pier provides a great view of the lake, and the trail is just the ticket to immerse yourself in the scenic surroundings. For a truly special day, rent a canoe or a kayak from the Visitor Center and explore the lake from an entirely new perspective.
Address: 480 Richland Place, Monroe, LA, 71203
8. Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge
Bring your canoe or kayak and spend some time on the Tenses River for an epic outdoor adventure full of beautiful scenery and wildlife. Public boat ramps are available throughout the refuge for those with a boat looking to fish, and the trail is great for families with kids of all ages.
Address: 2312 Quebec Road, Tallulah, LA, 71282
Have you been to any of these wildlife refuges? Let us know in the comments below!