Caddo Lake sits on the border between Texas and Louisiana, a maze of tight waterways, cypress trees, and abundant wildlife. It’s often called the only natural lake in Texas, but as with all Texas tales, that may or may not be accurate. Regardless, it’s a perfect spot for a weekend adventure. For full effect, pack your camping gear and turn your tires toward Karnack, TX, and make Caddo Lake State Park your base of operations.
From Dallas, the ride is a straight shot east on I-20, but a more scenic ride is US 80 through small towns like Wills Point and Mineola. We make a slight detour north from Mineola to Quitman for lunch at the Red Dome Smokehouse, as we’ll take any excuse to try a new BBQ joint. The place is rocking, giving me Cheers vibes as everyone seems to know everyone’s name. The waitress immediately treats us like regulars.
Spring in Texas on the open road still has a bit of a chill in the air, with the rev of the engine akin to meditation. Before you know it, our bikes lead us to the park entrance and after paying a small fee for a campsite, we wind our way through the trees to set up camp.
Choosing your equipment is the most critical decision when motorcycle camping. A journey on two wheels is more like backpacking than car camping, so the goal is to pack light and tight. Stash your tent and sleeping gear in some saddlebags and secure a backpack of essentials to the rear seat.
Jason makes one rookie mistake upon arrival, and we collectively make another. We’ll talk about Jason soon, but our collective error is that we arrive just as the sun is dipping below the horizon. Setting up camp in daylight is preferable to darkness, but the tent won’t pitch itself so make sure you have a lantern and a light to strap onto your head. It may feel silly, but spiders spin webs in trees, and the last thing you want to do while setting up a tent in the dark is walk face-first into a spider web. Trust me.
Caddo Lake State Park relies on donations to provide firewood to guests, so availability is inconsistent. If the cache is empty, the park rangers will guide you to the Circle S Country Store around the corner.
If you need a more substantial selection of food and beverages, a short ride down the road to the Run-In on SR 43 will set you straight. We pick up a couple of scratchers to pass the time around the campfire. Winning the lottery is the only thing that could make this trip better.
Motorcycles & Gear
2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000
1999 Honda Shadow Aero 1100
Helmets: Sedici Sistema II, HJC
Jackets: Sedici Avventura Waterproof Jacket
Pants: Sedici Avventura Waterproof Pants, REV’IT! Philly 2 Jeans
Boots: Red Wing Shoes Dynaforce Six-inch Safety Toe Boot
Gloves: Sedici Fillipo Waterproof Gloves
Luggage: Evo Engage Tank Bag
Now, let’s talk about Jason’s mistake. The campsites near the lake are slightly lower than the road, meaning the parking pads slant. We’ve all parked our bikes facing downhill once and we try hard not to do it again. But after a long day on the road, setting up camp in the dark, loading our bikes with firewood, and wanting to be done for the day, Jason is too tired to remember this critical wisdom. Walking 600 pounds up a ramp backward after offloading your gear will remind you that every day is leg day on a poorly parked motorcycle. I give him the proper amount of grief, and we start building the campfire.