Visitor Activities

Photo of a baldcypress tree in Rainey Lake

Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge offers many different opportunities for outdoor recreation.  Whether you enjoy hunting, paddling, or wildlife observation, the refuge offers activities for every age and interest. Want to Get Involved? Join the Tensas River Refuge Association!

  • Photography

    Wildlife Photography - Promo - 150 x 118

    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. Wildlife photography is a high-priority activity in the Refuge System.  

    Tensas River NWR is currently working on improving wildlife photography opportunities available to the general public.  We have several projects planned in conjunction with the Tensas River Refuge Association and encourage you to keep checking back for progress reports!  Currently, photographers make use of roadsides, trails, and piers and are getting fantastic photographs of many different species on the Refuge.We welcome beginning and expert photographers alike to record their outdoor adventures on film, memory card or internal hard drive! 

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Wildlife Viewing - Promo - 150 x 118

    If you enjoy getting outdoors and looking for wildlife, consider visiting a National Wildlife Refuge!  Wildlife observation activities are available on hundreds of national wildlife refuges throughout the nation.  From birding to whale watching, from viewing speedy pronghorn antelope or slow-moving box turtles, wildlife observation is the most popular activity for refuge visitors.  From every state and all parts of the globe, about 40 million people visit each year, especially for the chance to see concentrations of wildlife and birds.  The National Wildlife Refuge System’s extensive trail system, boardwalks, observation decks, hunting and photography blinds, fishing piers and boat launches encourage visitors to discover America’s best wildlife spectacles.  

    When visiting Tensas River NWR, take a walk on the Hollow Cypress boardwalk to the observation tower overlooking our cooperative farming units.  Also visit the Rainey Lake trail to see what the Rainey Brake Observatory and Rainey Lake piers have to offer.  And don't forget to go for a drive on the Wildlife Drive, a 4.5 mile driving loop where you have good chances of seeing songbirds, white-tailed deer, Louisiana black bears, and much, much more!  Please click here for a virtual, printable bird species check-list.  For more information about wildlife observation opportunities at Tensas River NWR, contact the refuge at 318-574-2664.

  • Paddling

    Paddling - Promo - 150 x 118

    Tensas River has recently dedicated four new paddling trails throughout the Refuge.  Chosen as Louisiana's representative for America's Great Outdoors Rivers project, we partnered with LSU AgCenter to work on enhancing paddling opportunities on the Refuge.  Click here for a PDF Brochure on the paddling trail from Fool River to Ben Lilly Bridge.  Click here for a PDF Brochure on paddling trails on the Tensas River from Tendal to the Visitor Center as well as on Africa Lake and Indian Lake.  On the Tensas River, paddling trail put-in and take-out parts are marked by signs in the river and at parking areas.  Bring your own gear and come try out the Tensas River!

  • Environmental Education

    Environmental Education - Promo - 150 x 118

    National Wildlife Refuges serve many purposes, and one of our most important roles is as outdoor classrooms to teach about wildlife and natural resources.  Many refuges offer environmental education programs for a variety of audiences.  Refuges provide unique and exciting outdoor environments – excellent locations for hands-on learning activities.  Thousands of youth and adult groups visit every year to learn about a specific topic on wildlife, habitat, or ecological processes.

    Is your school, youth, environmental or other group interested in learning more about the wildlife, plants, habitats and ecology of Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge?  Contact Refuge Staff to check on program availability.  Refuges are wild places, and we want to teach you more about them!

  • Interpretation

    Photo of Interpretation at Tensas River NWR

    Refuge System interpretation programs provide opportunities for visitors to make their own connections to the natural world.  From self-guided walks to ranger-led programs, many national wildlife refuges help visitors learn more about the wildlife and habitat behind the landscapes.  In addition to staff and volunteers presenting programs to audiences, refuges use a variety of exhibits, signs, brochures, and electronic media to communicate natural history stories to visitors.  Printed and virtual information is often available on many topics, including plants and animals, seasonal migrations, habitats, refuge management strategies, and endangered species.  

    Come visit Tensas River NWR's newly remodeled visitor center during office hours to learn about the importance of bottomland hardwood forests and the different kinds of wildlife present throughout the refuge.

  • Hunting

    Photo of a youth deer hunt participant

    Hunting is an important wildlife management tool that we recognize as a healthy and traditional outdoor pastime that is deeply rooted in America’s heritage.  Hunting can instill a unique understanding and appreciation of wildlife, their behavior, and their habitat needs.  As practiced on refuges, hunting, trapping and fishing do not pose a threat to wildlife populations, and in some instances are necessary for sound wildlife management. Hunting programs can promote understanding and appreciation of natural resources and their management on lands and waters in the Refuge System.  

    To find out more about hunting opportunities, seasons and regulations on Tensas River NWR, check out the Public Use Regulations Brochure.

  • Fishing

    Fishing - Promo - 150 x 118

    In addition to the conservation of wildlife and habitat, the Refuge System offers a wide variety of quality fishing opportunities.  Fishing programs promote understanding and appreciation of natural resources and their management on all lands and waters in the Refuge System.  Every year, about 7 million anglers visit national wildlife refuges, where knowledgeable staff and thousands of volunteers help them have a wonderful fishing experience.  Find more information about fishing on National Wildlife Refuges with our on-line Guide to Fishing on National Wildlife Refuges.  

    On Tensas River NWR, a multitude of fishing experiences are available to the public.  Public boat ramps are available on Africa and Indian Lakes as well as on the Tensas River at the Ben Lilly Bridge.  For more information and fishing regulations, check out the Public Use Regulations Brochure.