Karnack is a small village in the Central Piney Woods region of Texas. It is the birthplace and childhood home of Lady Bird Johnson, the former First Lady to U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. It is also the gateway to the Texas portion of Caddo Lake, the largest naturally formed lake in Texas.
Driving is the best means of getting into Karnack. Public transportation does not come through this area. There are two state routes that run through the small community.
- Texas Highway 43, coming from Marshall or Atlanta. In Marshall, TX 43 connects with Interstate 20, which goes to either Dallas or Shreveport.
- Farm Road 134, coming from Jefferson. This connects with US Highway 59, heading north towards Texarkana and the Arkansas state line.
If you have your own boat, you could come into Karnack via the nearby community of Uncertain. The other launching points on Caddo Lake, the towns of Mooringsport and Oil City, are on the Louisiana side. It is highly advisable to acquire a local Caddo Lake map prior to attempting to navigate the confusing array of boat trails that are on the Texas side. There are dozens of trails and an unguided boater could easily get lost.
Despite the community's small size, it is not suitable for walking as there are very few sidewalks; plus, most things to see and do are spaced out far enough that walking would not be convenient. Personal vehicle is the best method of getting around Karnack.
- 1 Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge, 15600 Highway 134, ☏ . Sunrise to Sunset, Every Day. On the shores of the largest natural lake in Texas, the refuge protects a portion of the Caddo Lake ecosystem. A variety of animal and plant species can be spotted here including waterfowl, alligators, and bald cypress trees. The refuge offers a handful of activities for visitors, including hiking, nature viewing, bicycling, and equestrian trails. Free.
- 2 Caddo Lake State Park (From the TX-43/FM-134 intersection, drive north for 0.75 miles and turn right on FM-2198. Continue for half a mile and the entrance will be on your left.), ☏ . Daily Sunrise to Sunset. Camping, trailer sites, cabins, fishing, swimming, boating, hiking nature trails and interpretive center. $7.00 per person for entrance.
- Watch a sunset on the shores of Caddo Lake or Big Cypress Bayou
- Rent a cabin or cottage on the lake
- Row your kayak up and down the Big Cypress Bayou from Mill Pond to Backwater Jacks.
Shopping is very limited in this area. Even basic essentials are scarce. Gasoline cannot be reliably purchased here and it is recommended to leave Jefferson, Marshall, or Atlanta with a full tank of gas. For basic essentials, there is a single chain discount store, which is the only retail option in town.
There are only a small handful of dining establishments around Karnack. Most marinas and lodging may offer food, otherwise it may be necessary to bring your own, or commute to Jefferson for dining options.
Another excellent option would be to catch your dinner out on Caddo Lake! The lake is well known for bass, catfish, crappie, and sunfish. If camping, a good local experience is a pan-frying catfish over a campfire near the lake. For the authentic East Texas experience, use pine for firewood.
- 1 Aseret Mexican Restaurant, 17300 FM 134, ☏ .
- 2 Circle S Country Store, 17353 FM 134, ☏ . Basic American fare at a restaurant attached to an old service station. Hamburgers, sandwiches.
All lodging in Karnack will come in the form of rental cabins and old homes, save for one motel. Almost all rentals will be 2 to 5 miles northeast around the unincorporated village of Uncertain. The exception to this is the cabins for rent inside of Caddo Lake State Park.
- 1 Johnson's Ranch Marina and Cabins, 5131 East Cypress Drive, Uncertain, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 10AM. A series of basic cabins (effectively old hunting cottages and trailer homes) on the shores of Caddo Lake. All cabins are equipped with A/C, tv, and bathrooms with showers. Adjacent to the marina and bar. $75-$150.
- 2 Uncertain Inn Motel, 4335 Cypress Drive E., Uncertain, ☏ . On the shores of Caddo Lake. Basic motel with adjacent fishing lodge for groups. $85 a night for the motel, $200 for the lodge.
- The local area codes for Karnack are 430 and 903. Before the 903 area code was overlayed with 430, it was as simple as dialing the 7-digit number, if calling a local number on a landline. With the overlay, it is now necessary to dial 1 + area code + phone number to dial out. For cell phones, simply the area code and phone number will dial.
- Cell phone service in this region is very poor. The cell phone provider that sees the best service is AT&T. The other provider that sees marginally reliable service in Karnack is Verizon. Meanwhile, T-Mobile and Sprint service is completely non-existent in this area. Regardless of your provider, be prepared to not have cellular service while around Karnack, Uncertain, or the Caddo Lake area in general.
- There are no local internet cafes or public places where the internet can be accessed. The nearest public libraries are in Jefferson or Marshall. If visiting or staying at Caddo Lake State Park, there is marginal public Wi-Fi signal around the park headquarters building, as well as the cabins and campgrounds. Many local lodges and marinas are starting to offer Wi-Fi to overnight guests.
- 1 United States Post Office, 15592 FM 134. M-F 8AM-11AM.
- The newspaper for nearby Marshall, the Marshall News-Messenger, can be picked up from Circle S Country Store. In addition, the Longview News-Journal and the Shreveport Times are also available.
- Television news broadcasts from KTBS (ABC), KSLA (CBS), and KTAL (NBC) stations in Shreveport are the most commonly received in this area.
|Routes through Karnack|
|END ← Atlanta ←||N S||→ Marshall → Henderson|
|END ← Jefferson ←||W E||→ END|