Caddo Lake Questions Answered




When you conjure up images of Caddo Lake, you may picture a mysterious, ethereal, and supernatural lake. With the bald cypress trees seemingly floating in the water, the Spanish moss draped dramatically over cypress tree branches, and the misty appearance on top of the water, that is an easy picture to imagine. 

Are There Alligators in Caddo Lake?

Caddo Lake supports 93 species of fish according to the Fred and Loucille Dahmer Caddo Lake Preserve.  The Caddo Lake wetlands are home to approximately 190 species of trees and shrubs, 46 reptiles, 22 amphibians, 47 mammals, and over 20 mussel species. Over 220 species of birds, including dozens of neo-tropical migratory songbirds, also find a home at Caddo Lake. 

Yes, there are alligators in Caddo Lake. Caddo Lake is known for its abundance of cypress trees, and home to vast bayous, ponds, canals, and creeks. It covers 25,400 acres consisting of a cypress swamp with a mysterious history. You see alligators at Caddo Lake mostly during the warmer months. 

It is not common to see large alligators at Caddo Lake. Gators dislike people. They hide in underground dens in winter months. A male alligator can grow up to 1,000 pounds and 15 feet long. Alligators are not usually dangerous to humans on land as long as you keep your distance. 


Can you swim in Caddo Lake?

Caddo Lake is a great lake for fishing, wildlife viewing, canoeing and kayaking, and photography. It is the only natural lake in Texas. All other Texas Lakes are man-made. Caddo Lake’s bed is muddy and slimy. 

Yes, you can swim in Caddo Lake, which is open year round, but Caddo Lake is not known for its swimming beaches. You risk swimming with alligators. Gators tend to stay away from areas with heavy human traffic, and there are parks where people swim in Caddo Lake. 


Can You Ski on Caddo Lake?

On average, Caddo Lake is 8 to 10-feet deep. Boaters on Caddo Lake need to make sure their keels will not hit the lake bed. Coves with smooth-as-glass water at times are great for water skiing. 

Yes, you can ski on Caddo Lake. Skiers can find big coves. However, it is easy to get lost on Caddo Lake. There are two public boat ramps on the Texas side and six on the Louisiana side. Be careful outside of the marked boat lanes because of underwater hazards like rock-hard stumps and buy a map. 


Can You Rent Boats at Caddo Lake?

Caddo Lake is great for boating, canoeing, and kayaking. Boatloads of entertaining wildlife call Caddo Lake home. Caddo Lake is both mysterious and peaceful. 

Yes, the boat rental business is alive and well at Caddo Lake. Both the Texas and Louisiana sides of Caddo Lake offer boat rental businesses. You can take boat tours from a few businesses on Caddo Lake. Jet skiing is also popular on Caddo Lake and they are available to rent. 


What Is the Best Time to Camp at Caddo Lake?

Campers describe Caddo Lake as being breathtakingly beautiful. There is tent and RV camping available, plus cabin rentals with full kitchens and bathrooms. Caddo Lake’s main attractions are fishing, canoeing, and kayaking.

Campers report that spring and fall are the most comfortable seasons to visit and camp at Caddo Lake. They say it is beautiful with a quiet and surreal atmosphere, plus dogs are welcome on a leash at most campgrounds. 


How Did Caddo Lake Get its Name? 

Native Americans inhabited the Caddo Lake region for about 12,000 years. Most geologists believe Caddo Lake was formed, either gradually or catastrophically, by the “Great Raft”, a 100-mile log jam on the Red River in Louisiana, possibly by flooding in its low-lying river basin. 

Caddo Lake get its name from the southeastern U.S. Caddoan Indians. The Caddo  began successfully trading with the Spanish explorers in the mid 16th century and then the French in the late 17th century. 

The Caddo began to settle in the area near Caddo Lake around the 1800. They built ceremonial centers and far-reaching trade routes. They hunted game with bows and arrows, fished, and farmed corn, beans, and squash. The U.S. government forcibly removed the Caddo Indians to Oklahoma in 1859.


Do Bigfoot Families Really Exist at Caddo Lake?

Caddo Lake is well-known for alleged Bigfoot sightings. Cryptozoologists call Caddo Lake the “Land of Bigfoot”. Jefferson, Texas, near Caddo Lake, sports a Bigfoot statue at a trail entrance at the Port Jefferson History and Nature Center across from  its Convention and Visitors Center. 

Jefferson, Texas, is home to the headquarters of the Texas Bigfoot Research Center and considers its town the Bigfoot Capital of Texas. There have been reports of Bigfoot sightings since pre-Civil War days around the Caddo Lake Region. 

Cryptozoology is the study of and search for animals, especially legendary animals, like Bigfoot, to evaluate the possibility of their existence. There have been so many reports of Bigfoot sightings in the Caddo Lake region that Carey Heaster Jr., a past mayor of Jefferson, proclaimed the city the Bigfoot Capital of Texas. 

The City of Jefferson calls area between the trail entrance and the train bridge "Bigfoot Alley". If you look for them, you will find four more Bigfoots hiding along the nature center’s trail. The Texas Bigfoot Research Center hosts an annual conference where professionals like cryptozoologists, biologists, and believers in Bigfoot come together to share their evidence. 

The Bigfoot Research Center reports, “In addition to the visual encounters, there is a continuous growing body of physical evidence. The evidence consists of photographs and casts of footprints and handprints with some of the casts determined by dermal ridge experts to be of unknown primate origin; hair samples found in association with encounters that scientists have determined to be of unknown primate origin; and recorded vocalizations that bioacoustics analysts have determined to be of unknown primate origin.”


What Is Special About Caddo Lake?

Caddo Lake is an internationally protected wetland under the Ramsar Convention with one of the largest flooded cypress forests in the United States. Caddo Lake is one of Texas's few non-oxbow natural lakes and is the second-largest in the South. Caddo Lake was artificially altered by the addition of a dam in the 1900s, so today, it is not completely natural.

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of Ramsar sites, which are wetlands. This organization is commonly known as the Convention on Wetlands. It is named after the city of Ramsar in Iran, where the convention was signed in 1971.

A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is flooded by water either permanently, for years or decades, or seasonally, for weeks or months. Flooding results in oxygen-free, also known as anoxic processes, which prevail, especially in the soils. 

The primary factor that distinguishes wetlands from terrestrial landforms or water bodies is the characteristic vegetation of aquatic plants, adapted to the unique anoxic hydric soils. Wetlands are considered among the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems, serving as home to a wide range of plant and animal species. 




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