Visitor Activities

Visitor Activities cypress swamp
  • Hunting

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    Black Bayou Lake NWR offers an either sex archery season for whitetail deer. There is a lengthy squirrel and rabbit season and they can be hunted with dogs in the months of January and February. Raccoon and opossum can be hunted at night for one month and they can be hunted during daylight hours throughout the small game season. Recognized breeds of bird dogs may be used to hunt quail and woodcock. Duck hunting, like all other hunting on the refuge, is allowed in the designated hunting area only. Review the Black Bayou Lake NWR Hunting and Fishing Regulations pamphlet for specifics. If printed off and signed, the Black Bayou Lake NWR's Hunting and Fishing Regulations pamphlet will serve as an official refuge hunting permit for the year. A self-clearing permit is required for all hunters and can be found at kiosks on both sides of the refuge.

  • Fishing

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    Black Bayou Lake is open for fishing from dawn to dusk every day, offering excellent year-round fishing opportunities in a beautiful setting.

    Fishermen commonly pursue largemouth bass, crappie, red-ear sunfish, bluegill and other bream species. A Boat Launch is located near the visitor center and motors are restricted to 50 horsepower or less. A $2 launch fee is required and anglers must adhere to Louisiana freshwater fishing regulations.

    http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/fishing/recreational/freshwater/regulations

    Warning: On May 29, 2003, the state of Louisiana issued the following fish consumption advisory for Black Bayou Lake: women of childbearing age and children under the age of seven - no consumption of bowfin (choupique, grinnel); other adults and children over the age of seven - limit bowfin (choupique, grinnel) to 1 meal per month.

    Black Bayou Lake NWR Hunting and Fishing Regulations

    For a great place to reconnect with a favorite childhood activity or to try it for the first time, make plans to fish at a national wildlife refuge soon.  Find more information with our on-line Guide to Fishing on National Wildlife Refuge.

  • Wildlife Viewing

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    Visitors may see plentiful wildlife at Black Bayou Lake; however it generally is not interested in seeing you. A variety of bird species are present here at Black Bayou Lake. From fall through spring we may get different birds due to migration and many species heading south for the winter. Different species are more likely to be seen in specific areas depending on habitat preferences. Great blue herons and egrets are common around the lake and the ponds around the Visitor Center. Alligators are a popular animal to look for and are most likely seen off the wildlife pier. However, they are well-camouflaged and can be difficult to see since it may only be their eyes and nose showing in the water. In the spring, the Nature Trail is a great place to look for a variety of snakes. Broad-banded water snakes, which are non-venomous, are the most common presence along the trail. Keep your eyes open for frogs, anoles, skinks, and a variety of birds as well as gorgeous spider webs through the summer and into the fall. The Conservation Learning Center has a live animal exhibit including at least one alligator for those who may not see one in the wild.

  • Interpretation

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    Interpretive exhibits are available in the Visitor Center and Conservation Learning Center highlighting the habitats, plants, and animals of the refuge. In the Visitor Center there is an opportunity to watch six short videos that cover different aspects of the refuge. The Conservation Learning Center has a mural of the lake as well as informative exhibits about wildlife and plant species and the history of the lake. The Challenge Trail is a short trail that includes ten stations with activities and information about native Louisiana animals.

    Interpretive programs are offered throughout the year including full moon nature walks from fall through the spring. During different times of the year interpretive canoe tours are offered on the lake. During April, an Earth Day Celebration offers a variety of interpretive activities on the Saturday closest to Earth Day. During June we celebrate National Pollinator Week. In October the Friends of Black Bayou’s Fall Celebration is a community wide event with participation from many local groups. Other Interpretive programs are offered throughout the year and are listed on community calendars as well as the Refuge Facebook page. Interpretive programs can also be scheduled for groups depending on the availability of staff.

  • Environmental Education

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    Black Bayou Lake NWR is a popular destination for school and summer camp field trips. Refuge ranger and volunteers conduct fun, educational activities that can help meet state and national curriculum standards. Field trips are geared towards getting students outside and experiencing what the refuge has to offer.


    The Conservation Learning Center Discovery Room has a variety of hands on exhibits for students. The Aquarium Room has live exhibits of Louisiana reptiles, amphibians and fishes. The Visitor Center has interactive exhibits on refuge wildlife and their habitats. The refuge offers a variety of wildlife habitats for hands -on environmental investigations using scientific equipment available on site.

    A minimum group size of 15 is required to schedule a fieldtrip to the refuge. If you are interested in scheduling a fieldtrip, please go to the section for educators for information on doing so.

    Due to the restrictions that some schools may have with coming on fieldtrips- there is also the possibility of the ranger visiting your school to provide an environmental education opportunity for students.

    Demand is very high for fieldtrips in the spring, so the earlier that you can contact us with a request; the more likely you are to get a date you would like.

  • Photography

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    Photography is a popular activity at Black Bayou Lake. The wildlife viewing pier is a popular destination for people to take pictures of everything from birds to reptiles and the beautiful sunsets of northern Louisiana. Wonderful pictures are also taken along the Nature Trail. During the winter/spring the Photo Blind at the end of the Observation Tower Road is a great location to take pictures of waterfowl.

    Alligators are always a popular subject of photos and can sometimes be seen from the Wildlife Pier. However, please remain a respectful distance from them.

    The Friends of Black Bayou holds an annual photo contest every year with photos taken on one of the refuges in the Complex. The deadline is usually the beginning of October. More details can be found at www.friendsofblackbayou.org. Pictures from the photo contest are on display in the Visitor Center most of the year and provide another opportunity to see the scenery and wildlife of the refuge.

    Perhaps the fastest growing activity on national wildlife refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography.  That’s not surprising – the digital camera population explosion and cell phones with ever-improving picture-taking abilities are increasing the number of nature photographers at a rapid rate.  You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or have any experience to get started.  A small camera or basic cell phone will do just fine for most visitors.

    Nearly 12 million people visit outdoor areas each year to photograph wildlife, and national wildlife refuges naturally are at the top of the list.  Refuges provide enhanced opportunities to photograph wildlife in natural habitats by providing platforms, brochures, interpreters, viewing areas, and tour routes.  Wildlife photography is a high-priority activity in the Refuge System.  We welcome beginning and expert photographers alike to record their outdoor adventures on film, memory card or internal hard drive! 

  • Canoeing and kayaking

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    Exploring the lake itself is an adventure. The Friends of Black Bayou rents canoes and kayaks at the Visitor Center which allows visitors a chance to explore the lake. Visitors can paddle in between cypress and tupelo trees; look for a variety of reptiles and birds that may not typically be seen from the land. There is a bald eagle nest located out on the east side of the lake where there is a chance visitors may observe our resident pair. A canoe trail marked by signs on trees is available to follow or visitors can just explore as they desire. Canoes rentals are $20 for a half day or $35 for a full day. We will not rent canoes or kayaks if the weather is hazardous. Visitors with their own canoes are welcome to launch and enjoy the lake as well.