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One-tank road trips: Caddo Lake

You'll use every ounce of gas visiting the most unique lake in Texas. And it'll be worth it.

CADDO PARISH, La. — When the summer heat hits, a lot of people head for the water. The good news is Texas has nearly 7,000 lakes, but only one is in a world of its own.

Caddo Lake is only three hours east of Dallas on the border of Texas and Louisiana, but visitors who come here are transported to another world.

“They can’t believe that there’s anything like this over here in this part of the world,” Billy Carter said when we spoke to him in 2019.

Carter was a Caddo Lake boat guide and he took people on tours of the lake for more than 50 years up until his death last month.

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He said there’s just something about this lake that draws people in.

“It’s one of those places that keeps bringing you back,” Carter said. “It’s like a big magnet. Everybody that comes here comes back.”

Caddo Lake is an internationally protected wetland, and it’s obvious why.

Its bayous are filled with cypress trees covered in Spanish moss that make the lake appear like an ancient ecosystem.

Visitors to Caddo Lake don’t do watersports or speed across the water and swimming is probably not a good idea, either.

Alligators are known to lurk beneath the surface.

RELATED: Huge alligators spotted at Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge

“I’ve seen them right here several times,” Carter said.

Carter said he’s seen a lot more than just alligators. Otters, beavers, snakes and frogs are just a few more of the critters who call Caddo Lake home, making it one of the most ecologically diverse places in Texas.

It’s not just for sightseeing. There’s fishing, kayaking, camping and hiking in the nearby Caddo Lake State Park.

By the time you get home, you’ll have emptied your tank, but you’ll be filled with plenty of memories.