Sunday, May 21, 2017

Caddo Lake State Park—a Picturesque Cypress Swamp in East Texas

In a previous article, I have described a unique experience of meeting three people — two Canadians and one Japanese — in Uji, Japan and I have dubbed them as "Instagram Friends".[1]

One of the Canadians, she, was excited to mention Caddo Lake best of Japanto me as one of her dream locations to visit after learning that I'm from Texas.  Caddo Lake is not only known to the foreigners, but also it's one of the favorite photogenic places known to Dallas-area Photographic Societies.


Caddo Lake State Park is named for Caddo Lake, a sprawling maze of bayous and sloughs covering 26,810 acres (10,850 ha) of cypress swamp. The average depth of the lake is 8–10 ft (2.4–3.0 m), with the deep water in the bayou averaging about 20 ft (6.1 m). An angler's delight, the lake contains 71 species of fish. Naturalists can enjoy stately cypress trees, American lotus, water lilies, waterfowl, alligators, turtles, frogs, snakes, raccoons, mink, coypu, beavers, squirrels, armadillos, and white-tailed deer.

How to Access

Caddo Lake State Park can only be accessed by car.  It will take about 3-4 hours drive from Dallas area.  On the way to Caddo Lake, there is no clear sign telling you where it is until you reach Harrison County.  Therefore, unless you have a good GPS device or a detailed map, it's nontrivial to get there for the first-time visitors.  On the way there, you may also visit Jefferson一a historic city in Marion County.

When to Visit

Besides choosing a sunny day to visit, you would also like to visit Caddo Lake in a calm day. Why?  The reason is that when it's windy, the water will be murky and the tree reflection on the water will not be clear.  Also, you won't be able to reach farther out from Mill Pond in the canoe.


You can rent a canoe from the Park Office.  At the office, you will get two keys from the rental一 one for the canoe and one for the paddle shack.  Based on the instruction from the Park Ranger, you drive a bit down the road to the bridge.  After putting on life jacket and picking up paddles, you go to the canoe to unlock it from the chain and drag it down to the waterside.

After you finish, you just return everything back to their original postions and then drive back to the Park Office to return the keys.  The rental fee is based on hours and three hours is recommended if you want to have a relaxing experience.

If you decide to visit, you could also consider to stay there overnight in one of their cabins. But, if it's weekend, you are required to book  at least two nights (i.e, Fri and Sat nights).  There are also nice hiking trails in the park.  However, they are not well marked.



  1. Visting Uji (宇治) near Kyoto and Nara—Personal Experience
  2. Caddo Lake State Park
  3. Caddo Lake State Park, Texas [Official] (video)

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