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Texas Travels: Caddo Lake State Park

13 May 2013

I am going to make a shocking revelation in light of current pop culture events: I was never a huge Gatsby fan. So much decadence and what was there at the end? I mean it's a suspenseful read, hard to turn away from like a 1920's Real Housewives series, but I get so sad to realize how little the characters really had in life.

My favorite read in high school English was actually "Walden" by Henry David Thoreau. A certain few lines tend to still ring in my head when I realize it's time to stop the glorification of busy and get away for a bit...

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
My modern translation: Freaking go outside and play, people. Life is short and there's stuff to do besides laundry and going to the mall (two things that often seem to sneakily overtake my weekends).

Caddo Lake State Park is Texas' own Walden Pond. I first heard of it on the Texas Monthly Texas Bucket List (I am now 34% completed with the list following this weekend trip!), and I am so glad we finally made it out to this gorgeous, natural haven last month.

Caddo Lake is split between Texas and Louisiana, a two and a half hour drive from Dallas. We reserved our cabin online (cabins reserved on Fridays also have to be reserved for Saturdays, just a heads up) and headed out after work on a Friday night. We arrived after the front office closed, but got settled into to our cabin, which was unlocked for us with the key on the breakfast table, and had a great night's sleep in the woods and just completed out visitor paper work the next morning.

I loved our morning view from the gorgeous cabins, built by the Civilians Conservation Corps in the 1930s. We were in Cabin 3, which happened to be ADA accessible.There are also campsites and RV areas if you tend to crunch it up more than us. This is definitely our threshold of roughing it, and it was perfect and blissful.

The front of trusty Cabin #3!

Comfy beds and pretty rooms - can you spot our beloved family dOHm machine?

Each cabin comes with it's own private chef, if you are lucky enough to be married to a great cook like I am!

The website said to bring our own linens, and while there were ones on the beds when we got there, it was nice to have our own pillows and big blankets. The kitchen also has a small refrigerator and double stove top, so we brought groceries, a frying pan and plates to make our meals at the cabin. There is also a charcoal grill outside each cabin for night time cookouts, and we loved using it to make s'mores!

The state park has an little area of gorgeous hiking and walking trails that I think are about a mile long all connected. We started and ended our days on them, talked about things we want to do more of and less of as a family and found frogs and lizards and stuff.

I really wanted to canoe on the lake to see the gorgeous cypress trees up close and so Markus could blast his pecs and basically so we could look like Noah and Ally paddling along in the Notebook. This simple activity turned out to be more of an adventure, since when we walked down to the rental spot on the map of the park and it was boarded up. We drove to Uncertain to the where people said there might be canoes, but uncertain was kind of how we felt when we pulled up to the spot and did not see any canoes outside and weren't totally sure about the vibe. We ended up calling another place in Jefferson, and the woman said she wasn't there but would give us the gate code and we could put our $20 in her mail slot.

Soon enough we were out on the lake. This part of the lake was victim to being overgrown by foreign plant life, which starts growing like crazy and almost chokes the lake. It slowed down our paddling a little, which doesn't really seem to matter when you have nowhere to go. I felt a little guilty for how beautiful I thought it was despite the harm it is causing to areas of the lake!

My rookie lesson is to head out to the State Park with a canoe ready to go from REI rentals or something similar. The docks and boat drops in the park are great and it seems like it will be a ton easier to drop it in there, even though our inaugural Caddo Lake canoe trip was equal parts gorgeous and hilarious.

I also wanted to fish, so about a month before our trip Markus took me to Bass Pro Shop and I picked out a pink fishing rod. We stood on the dock as the sun went down on Saturday and cast out our lines. It was really relaxing and fun!

As we were leaving I turned to Markus and said, "That was so fun! I wasn't expecting to catch anything anyways."
He replied, "Uh, yeah! I was hoping not to! I don't know how to release a fish!"

City kids foreva.

If you are looking for the ultimate peace and quiet getaway in Texas, Caddo Lake is my new favorite recommendation. We were in a two room cabin and the whole time I thought about great friends I would love to come back with, and I look forward to trips out here in the future as a bigger family (although Little Child might have to stay behind since there are no pets allowed in the cabins). My biggest suggestion is to pack that car like a champ and bring everything you might want with you to the park - food, linens, canoe and gear. The towns around Caddo are friendly but small! I already can't wait to go back.


  1. My husband and I camp in Garner State Park almost every weekend. In fact, we're headed to Garner this weekend; they have a dance under the stars ever Saturday night that is really fun. Still, I think we may have to give Caddo Lake a try before summer is over. Looks beautiful.

  2. I love this! I love the little rustic cabins...right up my alley. I'm adding this to my list of drivable family vacations.

  3. Just ran across your blog and was so excited to read this. Caddo is such a gem! My dad lives about 30 min away from there and it's been one of our family's favorite spots for years. If you want to try fishing next time I would HIGHLY recommend Billy Carter ( He's a personal friend of my dad's and when we go out there we usually see Billy. He knows the lake better than almost anyone and you will catch fish with him (he also knows about the Native American history, ecological issues, etc). There's also a tiny little marina where Billy will dock where they will clean and filet your fish for you right after you're finished. I can't remember the name...but it's charmingly rustic. And do those guys know fish! Anyway, so great to find you and hear another person raving about this enchanting place.

  4. Hi! I don't think I will get a response since this was posted about 4 years ago, but do you happen to remember what part of the lake you went canoeing in? I am about to head over there for spring break and that area does look beautiful!


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