Destination :: Caddo Lake State Park

  • Caddo Lake: A single cypress tree covered in bare moss is visible on the lake in winter.

    Cypress Tree, Saw Mill Pond. December 2017. Image 1/5

  • Caddo Lake: Cypress trees in Saw Mill Pond in winter.

    Cypress Trees, Saw Mill Pond. December 2017. Image 2/5

  • Caddo Lake: Cypress trees are visible in the late evening light.

    Cypress Trees, Saw Mill Pond. December 2017. Image 3/5

  • Caddo Lake: Cypress trees are visible in winter on Saw Mill Pond.

    Cypress Trees, Saw Mill Pond. December 2017. Image 4/5

  • Caddo Lake: A white-throated sparrow is perched on leafless branches.

    White-throated Sparrow. December 2017. Image 5/5

Caddo Lake is the only naturally-formed large lake in Texas. Originally created by a log jam, today its size and water flow is managed by artificial dams. Its importance as a wetland waterfowl habitat is internationally recognized.

Today, visitors can enjoy a variety of water activities, including canoeing, kayaking, and fishing, as well as hiking through the park’s short by ecologically diverse trail system.

Brief History

12,000 years ago
The first people begin hunting and gathering in the region, eventually building settlements.1
Around 800 CE
The Caddo Indians arrive in the region and form a network of loosely-connected hunter/gatherer tribes.2
Farming has become a significant part of the Caddo way of life.3
The Francisco de Soto expedition are the first Europeans to make contact with the Caddo Indians.4
Epidemics caused by ever-increasing contact with European traders and explorers virtually eliminate the local Caddo tribes.5
Late 1700s/Early 1800s
According to Caddo legends, Tso'to (Sodo) Lake is formed by "water thrown up into the drift along the shore by a wind."
Early 1900s
Caddo Lake is dammed when oil is found in the area.
Caddo lake is dammed for flood control.
A new dam is built to replace the 1914 dam.
The State of Texas dedicates Caddo Lake State Park, created using land already belonging to the state.6
T. J. Taylor, local institutions, and other donors donate additional land for the park.7
June to November 1933
Civilian Conservation Corps Company 889 begins work on the park.
October 1934 to March 1937
CCC Company 857 continues work on the park.
A historical marker is erected to commemorate the history of Port Caddo, a somewhat raucous frontier town.8
October 23, 1993
Caddo Lake, including 8,000 acres of public land in both Caddo Lake State Park and the Caddo Lake State Wildlife Management Area, is designated as Ramsar Site. The Ramsar Convention seeks to protect wetlands around the world, and Caddo Lake is considered a Wetland of International Importance.9
The Caddo Lake Ramsar Site is expanded by 11,700 acres, which includes a mix of private and public lands.
Restoration work on the cabins and rec center is completed.10


245 Park Road 2
Karnack, Texas, 75661
United States



Let’s Do It Again Real Soon

I’ve always thought of myself as a mountain and beach person, but by the end of my first kayaking trip through the cypress trees, I started to think there might be a bit of the bayou in my soul. Even in winter there was plenty to see along the bayous (and bonus points for a relative lack of mosquitoes). This park is very high on my list of places to return to.

Visits: 1 Visited: December 2017

Quick Statistics

8,253 acres11
Lake Size
26,810 acres12
2.5 miles13
Paddling Trails
50 miles (Caddo Lake area)


  1. Unless otherwise indicated, information about the park and park history is from "History," TPWD.
  2. "Caddo Lake State Park," Wikipedia.
  3. "Caddo Lake State Park," Wikipedia.
  4. "Caddo Lake State Park," Wikipedia.
  5. "Caddo Lake State Park," Wikipedia.
  6. "Caddo Lake State Park," Wikipedia.
  7. Interpretive Guide, TPWD.
  8. "Details for Old Town of Port Caddo," THC.
  9. Interpretive Guide, TPWD.
  10. All information about the Ramsar designation is from "Ramsar," Caddo Lake Institute.
  11. "Caddo Lake State Park," Wikipedia.
  12. Information about the lake size and paddling trails is from "Overview," TPWD.
  13. Interpretive Guide, TPWD.


  • "Caddo Lake State Park." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. April 13, 2018. Accessed April 30, 2018. Link.
  • "Details for Old Town of Port Caddo (Atlas Number 5203010207)." Texas Historic Sites Atlas. Texas Historical Commission. Accessed April 30, 2018. Link.
  • "History." Caddo Lake State Park. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Accessed April 30, 2018. Link.
  • Interpretive Guide to Caddo Lake State Park. Pamphlet. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. 2015. Accessed April 30, 2018. Link.
  • "Overview." Caddo Lake State Park. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Accessed April 30, 2018. Link.
  • "Ramsar." Caddo Lake Institute. Accessed April 30, 2018. Link.