Project Spotlight: Plenty to Discover at the Creole Nature Trail Visitor Center

The Creole Nature Trail—also known as Louisiana’s Outback—is a scenic byway looping through the heart of Southwest Louisiana. This 180-mile road winds through marshes and bayous teeming with wildlife, and past shell beaches on the Gulf. The Trail brings visitors through historic parishes rich in Cajun traditions, as well as the cultural hubs of Lake Charles and Sulphur.

The Creole Nature Trail was created in 1975 to encourage visitors to leave the interstate and explore Southwest Louisiana. It was designated a State Scenic Byway in 1993 and a National Scenic Byway in 1996. In 2002, the Creole Nature Trail was designated as an All-American Road, recognizing the road itself as a destination and place of exceptional travel.

In designing and developing a fun and immersive experience for the Trail’s visitor center in Sulphur, Split Rock Studios (SRS) created exhibits that encourage visitors to explore not only the Creole Nature Trail, but the entire region. During the design development process, SRS paid particular attention to the diverse offerings of the region. Nature, food, music and history are clearly important and have been prominently featured, while themes of resiliency, hospitality, and exploration have been woven throughout the space.

The new exhibits build excitement about the amazing outback along the Creole Nature Trail, and serve as the jumping-off point for lasting Louisiana memories. Inside the exhibit space, a live oak sculpture in the lobby—so representative of the Cajun spirit—continues, providing an iconic backdrop for the history and traditions of the parishes and the region. A large sculptural diorama creates an ecological contrast between a marsh and bayou environment, complete with a snappy alligator sculpture. An immersive music environment provides a musical contrast between cajun and zydeco styles.