Plan Your Visit

512x219_egrets_bs_photo copyright_tom_carlisle

Located just northeast of New Orleans, Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge is a marsh and wetland habitat rich in wildlife and recreation opportunities. The Refuge is a popular place to enjoy fishing, hiking, paddling, bird watching, nature photography, youth waterfowl hunting, self-guided tours, and interpretive and educational programs.

Phone Numbers/Email  

General Information: 985/882-2000 

Law Enforcement: 985/882-2041 


Mailing Address/Headquarters and Visitor Center: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast Louisiana National Widlife Refuges, 61389 Hwy 434, Lacombe, La 70445

How to get there:

From Slidell: Take I-10 west. At the end of the I-10 twin span bridge over Lake Ponchartrain, take Irish Bayou #254/Hwy 11 exit. A popular fishing and crabbing area is located at the south end of the old Hwy 11 bridge, where there is an unpaved parking area and a 1.4 mile dirt frontage road leading to a closed to traffic bridge over Little Irish Bayou. To reach this access point, watch for traffic and carefully turn off the exit ramp crossing Hwy 11 to the lakeshore. To reach other parts of the Refuge turn left onto Highway 11. The Refuge is on both sides of Highway 11 once you pass through the hurricane protection levee. A boat launch is located on the west side of Hwy 11, approximately 2.5 miles south from exit #245. At the Hwy 11 and Hwy 90/Chef Menteur Hwy intersection turn right to reach the Joe Madere Marsh canoe launch and marsh overlook and the Ridge Trail public access sites in 1.7 and 2 miles respectively.

From New Orleans: Take I-10 east to exit #246A (Chalmette, I-510); go about 2 miles south on I-510 to Highway 90 East exit; turn left onto Hwy 90 and go approximately 4 miles to reach the Ridge Trail access.

Download a map of the Refuge at this link.

Know before you go:  

Visitors are welcome on the Refuge seven days a week, during daylight hours, The Refuge is closed at night.

Paddling:  Bayou Sauvage NWR waterways are accessible from two public launch sites on the Refuge. One is located on the west side of Hwy 11, approximately 2.5 miles south of the Hwy. 11/Irish Channel exit off of I-10. This launch provides access to canals and shallow interior lakes. The Joe Madere Marsh overlook and canoe launch on U.S. Hwy 90/Chef Menteur Hwy is located 1.7 miles west of the Hwy 11/Hwy 90 junction. The Joe Madere Marsh access is becoming overgrown and shallow — a natural marsh process — so paddling opportunities at this site may be limited to high water times of year. Paddlers may also launch from the lakeshore or the Little Irish Bayou area at the south end of the Hwy 11 bridge over Lake Ponchartrain.

Hiking: The Ridge Trail site, located on Hwy 90 two-miles west of the Hwy 11/Hwy 90 junction, is the most popular access point on the refuge. A 2/3 mile-long interpretive boardwalk loop trail provides views of bottomland hardwood forest and marsh habitats. It is also possible to hike the levees within the Refuge. Please note: For safety reasons, all areas of the refuge located outside the Hurricane Protection Levee are closed to public entry until after 12 noon from November 1 – January 31, and during the state teal season, except for youth waterfowl hunting which is allowed until 12 noon.

Boating: To protect the marsh, only outboard motors 25 HP or less are permitted in waters inside the Hurricane Protection Levees. A boat launch is located on the west side of Hwy 11, approximately 2 miles south of the Irish Channel exit #245 off 1-10. This launch provides access to canals and some shallow interior lakes.

Feeding alligators is prohibited. Encouraging gators to approach humans as a source of food is dangerous for people and pets and unhealthy for the alligators.  

Do not leave valuables in your vehicle.

Pets must be on a leash.

Please help keep your waterways and refuge clean and healthy — pack it in, pack it out.

The Refuge has little shade and can be buggy much of the year. Be sure to bring drinking water, insect repellent, and sunscreen.

Hunters and anglers must observe state and refuge specific regulations. More information at this link.