Camping at Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge is available at two (2) primitive campgrounds. Both campgrounds are located within the Sherburne Wildlife Management Area, which is a state-managed area. Camping is NOT free. Camping permits and access permits are required.
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Camping at Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge
Technically speaking, the two primitive campgrounds offered by Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge are not part of the refuge. The Shooting Range Campground and Whiskey Bay Campgrounds are both state-owned properties, operated by Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries (LDWF). They are both part of the Sherburne Wildlife Management Area (WMA).
Under an co-operative agreement with the US Fish & Wildlife Department, these two campgrounds are offered to Atchafalaya NWR visitors, but state laws and regulations apply…
- At least three permits are required per camp. (see below).
- Campground use is restricted for persons pursuing outdoor recreational activities at a WMA.
- The campgrounds have no amenities, no marked sites, and hookups. They are both largely grass fields. You can drive on to the grass and set up camp just about anywhere.
Permits and Reservations
Campers must hold (all three) Camping Permit, WMA Access Permit, and Self-Clearing Permit, to camp on LDWF campgrounds…
- WMA Camping Permit – Applies to the entire camping party, up to five (5) adults. Children under 17 are not counted as adults. This is a state requirement that applies to all campgrounds operated by the LDWF. A camping permit costs $5.00 per night. Camping permits can be purchased at Louisiana Outdoors.
- WMA Access Permit – Applies to each person in the camping party except for children under 17. $20.00 for annual permit, $5.00 for five (5) day permit. Same price for both residents and non-residents.
- Self-Clearing Permit – Applies to each person in the camping party except for children under 17. This is simply a way to tell the LDFW that you have entered a Wildlife Management Area. Most of these permits are obtained through the LDFW’s app for Apple and Android. You can also visit the Self-Clearing Permit website. There are also Self-Clearing Permit kiosks at all WMAs. These permits are free.
Reservations are not available for any of the campgrounds operated by the LDFW.
Boondocking at Atchafalaya NWR
There is no boondocking anywhere at Atchafalaya NWR, nor anywhere at Sherburne WMA. All camping is restricted to the two campgrounds inside Sherburne WMA.
Maximum Camping Stay
A WMA camping permit is good for 16 consecutive days. After the permit has expired, you cannot be issued another camping permit for 48 hours.
Sources of the above information comes from…
- Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge official website
- Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
- Boondocking at National Wildlife Refuges
- Laws and Regulations for Camping at National Wildlife Refuges
- Camping Laws and Regulations in Louisiana
- A Guide to Boondocking in Louisiana