The Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located in the West Gulf Coastal Plain area, also known in Texas as the Piney Woods. In contrast to the more arid and thinly wooded areas that characterize much of the rest of the state, the refuge is one of the richest examples still in existence of the lush and abundant Piney Woods Belt where rainfall is abundant and rivers and bayous twist through forests teeming with wildlife and a great diversity of water and land plant species.
A number of wildlife and plants here are listed as rare or threatened under national and international laws, including the peregrine falcon, alligator snapping turtle, and the Rafinesque's big-eared bat. The wetlands of Caddo Lake are very important to migratory bird species within the Central Flyway. The area supports one of the highest breeding populations of wood ducks, prothonotary warblers and other birds in the United States. The lake also supports diverse fish populations, with as many as 86 species. There are at least 18 species of game fish present in Caddo waters, accounting for the lake’s important sports fishery activity.
Caddo is a naturally-formed lake of some 28,000 to 32,000 acres, depending on water levels. The lake is almost evenly divided between Texas and Louisiana and is the only large naturally-formed lake in Texas, the largest in the American South. Many visitors have described it as “the most beautiful lake you will ever see.”. The wetlands of Caddo Lake are one of the best examples of a mature flooded bald cypress forest in the United States and include cypress trees up to 400 years old. The lake also supports one of the most diverse communities of plants in Texas, if not the nation.
In 1993, portions of Caddo Lake and its wetlands became the 13th site in the U.S. to be designated “wetlands of international significance” under the Ramsar Convention.