One of the park's premier wildlife attractions is the American alligator, but there is no guarantee the scaly creature will appear during your visit. The staff generally concede to the presence of one or two fairly "permanent" residents, but the nearby river and bayou could attract others, or leave an escape route for the two residents. Nonetheless, if your visit occurs later in the year, the alligators might have already retired into semi-hibernation after the first cold snap of the season. Otherwise be on your guard for the park's reptiles.
If fishing, hiking, watching the birds, feeding the ducks, looking for alligators, observing the deer or noting all the marvels at the nature center were not enough to satisfy your children, the park offers a playground by the river. The playground is unattended so please observe your children at all times. Lying as it does near the river, the hazards of drowning and hypothermia are always present.
The Calcasieu River lines the southern edge of Sam Houston Jones State Park, and the Houston River joins the former on the park's western edge. Fishing is a common sight on both rivers as well as kayaking, canoeing and general boating. Check with park personnel about regulations governing the rivers. Much of the park's interior is submerged under the Indian Bayou, and boats and rafts are available through the park offices, but be careful . . .this is still alligator territory.
Favorite thing: Apart from the raccoons, skunks and oppossums that might appear in the park's confines, the birds are quite familiar with the area waterways. Ducks, herons, egrets, pileated woodpeckers and several other species are common throughout the park. Please observe caution with wild animals however. Check with park personnel on regulations governing the appropriate treatment of all wildlife.
Favorite thing: In the middle of the park is the Nature Center (check at the office for operating hours). Besides the relics of rural life so prevalent among such centers, the center gives a snapshot of the park in general: its wildlife, its trees and natural resources and its rivers. Just behind the center in an enclosed compound is the park's deer pen, but the enclosure is so large that you might strain for ages to catch sight of the deer.
Favorite thing: Fishing is permitted within the park with proper permits. The website declares that fishermen have walked away from the area with "fine catches" of white perch, bream and bass, but locals tell a different tale. A local power plant has apparently corrupted the water of the Calcasieu River, and warnings within the park ask the fishermen to reduce their intake of certain species caught in the river to only a few meals per month. Be aware of what you're doing when walking off with the catch of the day. . .or you what know what you might be catching.