Caddo Lake State Park

Park Alert…


Gateway to Caddo Lake

Water lillites growing in the bayou.Caddo Lake State Park rests on the banks of the Big Cypress Bayou, about four miles upstream from Caddo Lake. The Caddo Lake watershed is a maze of slow-moving bayous, wetlands and backwaters covering nearly 27,000 acres of cypress swamp. The lake’s average depth is 8 to 10 feet, while the Big Cypress Bayou averages 20 feet deep.

Lush Habitat

Three major habitat types (bottomlands, mesic and uplands) within the park support a diversity of wildlife including American alligators and paddlefish. Caddo Lake’s watershed holds the greatest variety of native aquatic wildlife in Texas. The park is also within the Central Flyway, a migratory path for many species of birds.


Female wood duck with duckling

Majestic bald cypress trees draped in Spanish moss stand tall, guarding the waterways of this threatened habitat.

See bald cypress and water tupelo while paddling through the bayou. Hike in the shade of water oaks, sweetgum, and sugarberry on the Pine Ridge Spur or Pine Ridge Loop trails.

Shrubs and swamp grasses provide ideal habitat for wood ducks to raise their young. Tree cavities and fallen logs are excellent hiding places and nesting sites for other birds and small mammals.

Mesic slopes

The landscape transitions from swamp to temperate forest, and you move into a mixed pine–oak forest. Loblolly pines and white oak trees provide pinecones and acorns as food for gray squirrels and other wildlife.

Moisture levels required to support life here are more moderate (or mesic) than wetland swamp habitats.


This habitat comprises the largest forested area in the park. In addition to a variety of pine and oak trees, you will see berry-producing shrubs such as holly and American beautyberry. White-tailed deer, raccoons, Virginia opossums and other wildlife rely on these for food.

Spotlight on Trees

Trees have knees!

Wooden knobs poking above green water
Cypress knees. Photo by Jimmy Smith

Bald cypress trees grow in and along the waterways. They appear “bald” after they shed their leaves each fall.

Look for short stumps poking up through the water near the base of bald cypress. These are cypress “knees.” They are above ground extensions of bald cypress root systems.

Trees have beards!

Long, curly tendrils of Spanish moss swaying from tree branches give the wetlands a magical, mysterious appearance. Historic tribes used the moss to make clothing, huts and bedding. The moss’ name may have come from French explorers who thought it resembled the long beards of Spanish conquistadors.

Spotlight on Wildlife

Little bird with a big name

Yellow bird perched on branchYou may hear prothonotary warblers before you spot them. These warblers migrate to Caddo Lake each spring.

Look for these beautiful yellow birds with blue-gray wings along the waterway, in the understory foraging for insects. You also might see them in the bottomlands gathering moss from dead logs to line their nests. They nest in hollows of dead trees and might even build a nest in a tall cypress knee!

Prothonotary warbler populations have declined, and they are considered vulnerable to habitat alterations.

Living fossils

Illustration of fish with long snoutPaddlefish are the oldest surviving animal species in North America. Fossils 300 million years old indicate that paddlefish existed before dinosaurs!

They are considered a threatened species. It is illegal to catch, kill or harm these fish in Texas.

Amazing American alligators

Alligator on the bank of a waterwayAmerican alligators are the largest reptile in Texas. Males can grow to 15 feet and weigh up to 1,000 pounds. Alligators sun in or beside waterways during the day but are generally more active at dusk.

Read our alligator safety tips before your visit.