Visitor Activities


The refuge attracts the highest number of visitors during the spring, when the migratory birds and wildflowers are abundant and the Attwater’s prairie-chickens are booming on the leks.

Wildlife Watching and Nature Trails
A 4-mile auto tour loop takes visitors through the prairie and along Coushatta creek. Crested caracaras, white-tailed hawks, a wide variety of sparrows and even the occasional prairie-chicken are seen from the auto tour, as well as other native wildlife such as black-tailed jackrabbits, coyotes and white-tailed deer. Several kiosks and interpretive panels with information about prescribed fire, native prairie restoration, and the Attwater’s prairie-chicken can be found on the auto tour route.

All motor vehicles must stay on the designated auto tour route. The road is unimproved and adverse weather may force the refuge staff to close the road at certain times. The auto tour loop can also serve as a hiking or biking trail. Remember, the road is only open from sunrise to sunset.

The Horseshoe Lake Trail (1.3 miles) and Sycamore Trail (1.3 miles) provide excellent opportunities to enjoy the native coastal prairie and riparian areas. There’s nothing like walking to truly feel the prairie grandeur, complemented by brilliant wildflowers, butterflies and tall grasses. Keep in mind that you could encounter venomous snakes, mosquitoes, alligators and fire ants as you trek around, so please stay alert and give them plenty of room.

Environmental Education
Several times each year, teachers bring their students to the refuge to engage in environmental education activities ranging from simple identification and exposure to graduate-level research and investigations. We encourage teachers to use the refuge as an outdoor classroom and will work with teachers and students to ensure that their time spent on the refuge is stimulating, educational and helps their students achieve their education goals.

Working with the Friends of Attwater Prairie Chicken Refuge, a non-profit organization, the refuge is developing environmental education programs and materials to deliver to area schools. To help with this initiative, or to set up an educational visit for your students, contact the refuge staff.

Please check back to this site as we hope to update it as additional programs become available.

Wildlife Photography
Wildlife, wild flowers and amazing sunrises and sunsets make for spectacular photography subjects on the refuge. Photographers will find that using their vehicles as a slow-moving blind on the auto tour will allow them to get close to many refuge birds such as the crested caracara, American bittern, song sparrow, and occasionally even an Attwater’s prairie-chicken. Along the Sycamore Trail, benches are located in secluded, quiet areas near Coushatta Creek where a patient photographer might catch a belted kingfisher diving for its lunch, a white-tailed doe nursing her fawn, or a broad-banded water snake sunning itself on a sandbar.

Photography is also allowed during the special wildlife viewing tours offered monthly, so be sure to contact the refuge staff to reserve your spot.