North Louisiana Wildlife

Follow Us through the Forests and Wetlands

Basic Info about the Refuge

The Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana is 5,300 acres of trails and waterways just north of Monroe.

The Black Bayou Lake NWR is a beautiful, easy-to-walk refuge. Because people spend so much time at the small refuge, the animals tend to get closer to people than they do at other refuges in the area, and this is where you’ll have your best chance of getting an opportunity to view wildlife up close.

Hanging out at the Black Bayou Lake NWR is like being in the friendliest secret club on the planet. People wave and often stop and chat no matter where you go on the refuge. The NWR is the first place we saw prothonotary warblers, broad-banded water snakes, and to this day, the place we’ve seen the most broad-banders. It’s also where we first saw red-winged blackbirds, although Tensas holds the record for the most we’ve seen in one place. On any given day, you can find wading birds, like great egrets, great blue herons, and even little blue herons, songbirds, like warblers and vireos,  woodpeckers, frogs, toads, raptors, deer, snakes, fish, and vultures. 

The NWR has a special place in our hearts as the first place we saw alligators in the wild and the only place we’ve seen prothonotary warblers. The refuge is small enough to visit most of it in a single day. However, there are so many trails, particularly along the art road, that you’ll want to make several visits to see everything. We suggest you start with the pier, which you can access from the Nature Trail (which is as awesome as the pier) at the visitor’s center or the boat launch area. Our other favorite refuge areas are the agricultural fields at the end of the Art Installation Road, the photo blind, and the observation tower. On the Edgewater Trail, you can also find loads of wildlife past the boat launch area.

We love the area that overlooks Bayou DeSiard, and this trail also passes near the lake. On any given day, you can find wading birds, like great egrets, great blue herons, and even little blue herons, songbirds, frogs, toads, raptors, armadillos, deer, skinks, hummingbirds, and snakes. In our visits to Black Bayou, we’ve met birds, including warblers, vireos, bluebirds, orioles, egrets, herons, and hawks; all kinds of frogs and toads; snakes and turtles, particularly broad-banded water snakes, cottonmouths, ribbon snakes, and red-eared sliders.

The Black Bayou Lake NWR is on two sides of the lake. The largest, most popular section of the NWR is just north of Monroe, off 165 North. That’s where you’ll find the refuge headquarters, a bird trail, a prairie trail, a photo blind, an observation overlook, a boat ramp, a hunting area, and an art area. You’ll also find a nice pier boardwalk that juts out over the lake’s edge. The trails are easy to walk, and no matter when you go out there, you’ll meet folks who understand and love Louisiana wildlife. On the other side of the lake, you’ll find a smaller, much wilder area with bramble-covered trails that lead to the lake. If you have time, check out the Arboretum Trail near the visitor’s center, where you can meet loads of birds. Once the center opens back up, stop by there, as well. In addition to a nice restroom, the center houses displays and a nifty gift shop.


Species of Animals at the Refuge


Size in Acres

$ 0

Entry Fee

By The Numbers

Learn more about the refuge.


Days Open


Miles of Walking/Biking Trails Available

While we love all our wild friends, the alligator is our favorite Black Bayou Lake NWR inhabitant. Black Bayou is the first place we met this friend in the wild, and no matter how many other awesome neighbors we meet there, it has remained our absolute fav from the refuge.

Alligator eating a fishAmerican alligator lurking

American Alligator

Northern flicker drilling into a treeYellow-shafted northern flicker foraging on a thin tree

Northern Flicker

Joe White Road

Gulf-Fritillary Butterfly

Visitor Center
Broad-banded water snake swimming in murky, shallow waterBroad-banded water snake swimming underwater

Broad-Banded Watersnake

Photo Blind Trail
Prothonotary warbler looking out from its perch on a branchProthonotary warbler looking around from a perch on a tree limb

Prothonotary Warbler

Photo Blind Trail
Golden-crowned kinglet looking out from its hiding spot behind the bramble of bare branchesGolden-crowned kinglet hidden behind the bramble of bare branches

Golden-Crowned Kinglet

Joe White Road
Great egret hunting in shallow waterGreat egret hunting in shallow water

Great Egret

Sharp-shinned hawk in flight through a blue skySharp-shinned hawk in flight through a blue sky

Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Joe White Road
Northern mockingbird with a grub on a slab of cementNorthern mockingbird leaping onto a cement slab with a bug in its beak

Northern Mockingbird

Visitor Center
Black western rat snake (chicken snake) crawling over a limbClose up of a black western rat snake (chicken snake) head

Black Rat Snake, aka Chicken Snake

Nature Trail
White-eyed vireo looking around curiously from its perch on a small branchWhite-eyed vireo looking out from its perch on a small branch

White-Eyed Vireo

Photo Blind Trail
Common grackle foraging at the edge of shallow waterCommon grackle foraging on a tree in shallow water

Common Grackle

Photo Blind Trail
Female red-winged blackbird squawking from its perch on a tree limbMale red-winged blackbird on a dried water reed

Red-Winged Blackbird

Young cottonmouth resting watchfully under a log ledgeCottonmouth swimming in shallow water

Northern Cottonmouth

Photo Blind
Adult barn swallow looking out from its perch on a treeAdult barn swallow looking out majestically from a tree branch

Barn Swallow

American bumble bee pollinating a purple flower

American Bumble Bee

Visitor Center
Mature female eastern pondhawk on a green plantMature female pondhawk dragonfly on a limb

Eastern Pondhawk

Observation Tower
Differential grasshopper on red twigs of a green plantDifferential grasshopper on red twigs of a green plant

Differential Grasshopper

Boat Ramp

More about How You Can Enjoy the Refuge

Visit Other Areas

The Black Bayou Lake NWR is one of many places you can enjoy our local wildlife. 

Explore North Louisiana's Outdoors.

Learn about other national wildlife refuges, state wildlife management areas, and Kisatchie National Forest Ranger Districts found throughout North Louisiana.

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