The exhibit space inside Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point is designed to tell a story of the Creole Nature Trail as well as the culture and people of Southwest Louisiana. The Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) teamed up with Split Rock Studios of St. Paul, Minn., to create the interpretive experience.
The demand for visitor services along the western side of the trail became great after Hurricane Rita destroyed the visitor center at the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge nearly 10 years ago. The exhibits inside Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point fill that need.
“The Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau realized the significance of providing an educational experience for visitors who come to the area to immerse themselves in the outdoors and our culture after losing the visitor center at the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge,” said Shelley Johnson, executive director of the CVB.
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Southwest Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge staff is excited to share in the opening Adventure Point with our tourism partners. Adventure Point's location, just off I-10 at the Sulphur entrance to the Creole Nature Trail All American Road, makes it the ideal location for birders, crabbers, fisherman, hunters, photographers, hikers and sight seers heading to our National Wildlife Refuges and other destinations to stop and learn more about the area,” said Diane Borden-Billiot, Visitor Services Manager of the Southwest Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
The outside of the building is nautical in nature with the Gumbeaux Too shrimp boat, primed for a photo opportunity for visitors. Upon entering the center, visitors are greeted by Adventure Guides that are situated at a desk area that resembles a live oak tree in realistic detail. Surrounding the tree and throughout the exhibit space, visitors walk along a roadway path, designed to remind them that the Creole Nature Trail is a driving tour.
The entire space has elements that communicate the driving attraction with guardrails, highway signage as well as a gas pump that features three videos: the Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail, Birds of a Feather and Louisiana Flavors.
Other displays communicate the differences between a marsh and a bayou, with realistic representations of flora and fauna and sounds of nature with birds chirping overhead. In between the marsh and bayou displays, there is a duck blind where visitors can use binoculars to peek through to see the displays, pose for a picture wearing camouflage jackets and boots and wrap their arms around a trusty hunting dog.
The culinary interactive display showcases boudin, with an endless boudin stuffer that visitors can manipulate, as well as smells of Creole and Cajun cooking and sounds of a boiling pot of delicious crawfish. Visitors are encouraged to take a recipe from a recipe box on the counter.
The Gulf Coast is represented with a marine life exhibit where visitors can try their hand at crabbing, learning how to tie a knot and guessing how many fish a pelican can hold in its mouth. There are also educational representations of the swamp and prairie lands.
Visitors can experience a grand finale by performing on a music stage where they can pretend that they are playing along with Cajun and Zydeco tunes. The center piece is an accordion which ties the two different genres of music together, and everyone can sound like a professional musician as they play the bass, scrub board, accordion, fiddle and steel guitar.
Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point is located at 2740 Ruth St., south of the Sulphur/Creole Nature Trail, Exit 20 on Interstate 10. For more information, visit www.visitlakecharles.org/AdventurePoint or call 337-502-4358.