Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was established in 1988 to protect the important Mississippi and Red River ecosystem. The 17,500 acre refuge located in central Louisiana gets its name from the largest water body in the area. Once part of a vast bottomland hardwood wilderness, the refuge has been highly altered by the construction of levees to alter hydrology and the clearing of land for agriculture. Today refuge management focuses on restoring the forest and providing moist soil and flooded cereal grain crops for wintering waterfowl.
As a part of the Mississippi and Central flyways, a variety of waterfowl use the refuge in the winter months. Species seen commonly include mallards, northern pintails, wood ducks, blue- and green-winged teal, northern shovelers, gadwall, and American wigeon. Other, less commonly seen, wintering waterfowl include scaup and ring-necked ducks, as well as Canada, snow, and greater white-fronted geese. The refuge also supports a diversity of resident wildlife, including mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds. Neotropical migratory songbirds can be seen at various times of the year.
Lake Ophelia NWR provides visitors a variety of recreational opportunities, including:
To ensure your safety and enjoyment while visiting Lake Ophelia, please take time to become familiar with the refuge's hunting and fishing regulations.
Visitors may hunt small game, deer (special youth draw hunt and archery/primitive weapons draw hunts), turkey, and waterfowl. All hunters must possess all required state and federal hunting permits, as well as a Special Recreational Activity Permit. This permit costs $15 and is available at refuge headquarters, through the mail, or online (http://www.centrallapermits.com). The permit also allows visitors to fish and access hunt areas with an ATV on designated ATV trails. Review the refuge's hunting and fishing brochure for seasons, bag limits, and other regulations.
Fishing is permitted in most refuge waters. All anglers 16 year s old or older must possess a state fishing license as well as the $15 refuge Special Recreational Activity Permit (available at refuge headquarters, through the mail, or online at http://www.centrallapermits.com). Review the refuge's hunting and fishing brochure for more information.
Visitors are welcome to use the 20 miles of refuge hiking trails throughout the year. Please be aware that trail conditions vary throughout the year, with the summer season having extreme heat conditions and the winter being the wettest time of the year.
Hikers may enjoy wildlife photography, birding, or other wildlife observation along the trails. The best times to view wildlife and hike are in the morning and evening.
The refuge is open daily from sunrise to sunset.
Hunters, anglers, and those using ATVs to access the refuge during the designated seasons must purchase a $15 Special Recreational Activity Permit
Special arrangement can be made to accommodate persons who require the use of a wheelchair by contacting the refuge office.