Our day began with a stop at Chesson’s Grocery on La 27 for gas. When we drove up I noticed a brightly green colored alligator statue out front. I had to have a picture of it! So while Myron, my boyfriend, pumped gas, I went over to see exactly what it was. The sign read “Creole Nature Trail,” and this sparked my interest for a new blog series! After mentioning my idea to Myron, he said there was a place just down the road that he passed almost every day that we needed to check out.
It was the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. When we walked in we were greeted by the sweetest, little lady working there. She gave us a brief once over of the place and explained what the center had to offer. I took a few pictures then we walked into the first room and met Tante Marie who turned out to be an animatronic replica of an old Cajun woman in a pirogue with a voice that took me back to my childhood days listening to my grandparents. She was so animated and realistic, not scary at all, and I know kids would just love her! She talked about the history of the Cajuns, their migration south to Louisiana, and their daily lives back then. She couldn’t stay long though because she needed to head home with her fresh shrimp to make her a big pot of shrimp and okra gumbo, so we headed into the next room.
Around the corner was a hands-on museum set up with information about bird migration and conservation. From there we entered a movie room with this big wooden door and seats for about ten people. In the corner was a Gator on the Geaux (look for more on these brilliantly created statues in a future post) that was covered head to tail in commemorative duck stamps. That’s when we realized the next thing to see was outside in the chilly, misty weather. We went for it anyway, and headed to the observation deck in the back of the building.
It was well worth the walk! I’m sure in the summer there are more birds out, but we did get to see a variety of ducks and a couple beautiful geese. There is a covered place at the end of the boardwalk to stop and watch the birds in their natural environment. They even have a FREE telescope to get some close-up looks. As we were walking away there was the cutest little bird just swimming around. It sure didn’t care about the weather! I, of course, had to have a picture.
The Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center is a must stop before proceeding along the trail. Besides all the information it provides about the wetlands of Louisiana, it has plenty of brochures and maps to guide you on your way down the Creole Nature Trail. As we were leaving we were told we could head just two miles down the road to the Pintail Drive and Boardwalk, but we saved that for another day.
Here are the details to plan your own visit:
Cameron Prairie National Wildlife and Refuge Visitor Center
1428 Hwy 27
Bell City, La 70630
For more information about the Creole Nature Trail and surrounding areas check out these links: