The landscape in Southwest Louisiana offers countless miles of interlaced waterways and estuaries, as well as large lakes and smaller oxbow lakes. The wildlife management areas and national wildlife refuges protect nearly 250,000 acres which dominate the area south of Lake Charles to the region’s coastline and Texas border. The refuges, maintained by the Southwest Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge Complex, claim more than 184,000 acres of the land and offer numerous activities to residents and visitors.
The refuge complex maintains lands that, collectively, act as a major birding destination with more than 200 species of birds visible in any one of the four refuges. Activities such as hiking, boating, photography and wildlife viewing are also available. Two large visitor's centers help educate visitors about the refuges, which attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
A trail winds around each refuge in Southwest Louisiana – providing many hiking and wildlife viewing opportunities – as well as several miles along the coast with eight stops at beaches. On the Creole Nature Trail, there are numerous opportunities to explore the coastal waterways from the Rockefeller State Wildlife Refuge to the Texas border. Not only can the trail offer scenic views and outdoor activities, but it also serves as a traveling route to nearby festivals or towns.