Austin Cox: Caddo Lake Adventure

Paddle Boarding Caddo Lake

Instagram Handle: @travelandpaddle 

Location: Caddo Lake, TX

Board: ISLE Explorer & Scout

Stand Up Paddling In The Bayou 

While visiting Texas, my wife and I Googled “Best Outdoor Adventures in Texas” and BOOM — there it is, an eerie but gorgeous lake just outside of Uncertain, TX that was beckoning for a paddle board. The name is Caddo Lake State Park and it’s the first and only natural lake in the state. The cypress trees protrude out of the bayou while the Spanish moss hangs off like drapes in a historic Victorian house. The brownish water sprinkled with vibrant green lily pads makes this paddle boarding spot one of the most unique SUP destinations in Texas, and arguably, the entire United States.

There are many different places to launch your SUP and each has a different feel to it. Launching at the main parking lot will be the coolest and best experience, although it can be muddy to get out in the water. You can also enter at the boat launch which will place you directly into the river where you’ll have to take a left to enter the pond with all the gorgeous trees. The third location is by campsites 63-65 that’s best accessible if you’re enjoying the tent camping area. You can spend hours just exploring the pond which has inlets or paddling trails that go pretty far back. But be careful of how shallow those inlets can get.

Camping On Caddo Lake

This park has 55 campsites which range from cabins, RV hookups, and simple tent camping; it’s only $10 for a single car and an extra $4 per person. All campsites are level which makes it great if you’re in an RV or doing the Van Life thing. We recommend you get one of the amazing sites right on the water – 63, 64 or 65. The campsites even have hot showers and bathrooms in a couple locations.

Renting Canoes To Paddle

If you didn’t bring your ISLE stand up paddle board, you can always rent canoes to paddle Caddo Lake & the bayou. The rental fee is $10, but be sure to make a reservation or go in early as these are a hot commodity in the park. There are no additional charges bring your own SUP or kayak, but just make sure to be safe with a leash & PFD, especially if you’re paddling alone.

Pro Tips

  • Getting in and out of the bayou or river can be muddy and cumbersome. Our feet were absolutely filthy on our first time in and out. We saw a few locals using garbage bags as shoes while entering and exiting the water — they clearly knew what they were doing.
  • If you’re camping, you’ll want to get your firewood from Tom who lives just three miles away from the state park. His number is (903) 431-6738, and he’ll help you with a large bucket of wood for $12. It was a really good deal for the amount of wood you get, plus it’s super close to Big Cypress Bayou. 
  • Bring plenty of bug repellent because the wetlands are a real breeding ground for mosquitoes. We would recommend planning your visit during the fall or winter months when the mosquitoes aren’t as prevalent. 
  • There are a couple of great hiking opportunities around the lake which total almost 2 miles so they’re nothing too exhausting. Start at the Caddo Forest Trail by the boat ramp as it hooks up to the Pine Ridge Loop which will bring you back around to your car.

Standup Paddle Boarding In Texas

We spent a week exploring Texas and tried to use our paddle boards as often as possible. We hope you can enjoy some of our favorite spots:

  • We went paddle boarding in Austin, Texas which offered some amazing views of the city, and if you’re paddling on the weekend, then you’re more than likely to receive an ice-cold beer from a boater. 
  • When we were visiting Fort Worth we stayed at Bear Creek Campground on Benbrook Lake and went paddling in this really cool looking spot.
  • Dallas had a few lakes and rivers but none that were calling us. Check out Lake Lewisville, Grapevine Lake, and Lake Ray Hubbard.