Tucked back in the woods of Northeast Texas — near Mount Vernon — there is a hidden gem.
Sitting near Lake Cypress Springs off Highway I-30, Deer Lake Cabins Ranch Resort is a unique mix of nostalgic campground + dude ranch + lake resort. It blends all of the best aspects of these types of vacations, rolled up into one peaceful getaway.
This is one of the few places that I have visited in Texas that I could actually see myself living at in the future. (If they’d let me!) And, even though the pandemic has been tough for our world in general, it’s been a boom for this property. For anyone worried about leaving their homes, this is a place that you can easily escape to and feel very comfortable in, not seeing or talking to anyone else if you so choose.
There are 18 cabins (with a 19th in production) on property, all different shapes and sizes. Ten colorful cabins line Deer Lake, each with their own wooden dock and pier. But there are 8 other cabins, vastly spread out on the 800 acres of Double S Ranch, where you can be tucked into the woods, without a view of other humans. You might have a visit from Blue, the ranch dog, though.
The Texas Star Cabin was absolute perfection, with ample space to fit a couple of families as it sleeps 10, with 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. We visited on Spring Break and although all the cabins were full, it was still very quiet and peaceful. The open floor concept of this one-story is a design that I would use for my dream cabin on a lake. The back porch is expansive, overlooking Deer Lake. Down at our pier, we had access to a variety of small boats like kayaks, a paddle boat and a fishing boat (all to ourselves).
Alfresco All Day
Happy hour is every hour at Deer Lake Cabins with dining alfresco all day long. We enjoyed sharing meals at the table on our back porch, with a beautiful view of the lake, fresh air and zen vibe. The full kitchen makes it easy to prepare all your meals, not needing to rely on restaurants or take away meals at all. (Seriously, the pandemic was made for places like this!)
Waste Time Wisely
Remember I mentioned the trifecta of campground, dude ranch and resort? The activities offered really showcase this blend; some scheduled and some at your leisure.
The guided horseback rides through the 15 miles of trails are a great way to see the ranch, from forest to the 75-acre hay meadow. Right now, they’re keeping groups/families on their own rides.
The most unique activity is Escape the Ranch, a scheduled group adventure. ($30 per person.) Start at the office with a backpack full of tools. You’ll do your own Amazing Race through the property, figuring out clues as you go, from one tree box to another. The average time is around one hour.
UTV Rentals, Fishing & More
With an ATV/ Gator or the fancier Can Am rentals, teens will really enjoy exploring the vast property (you must have a valid driver’s license). Not to mention, it’s just an easy way to get around the ranch.
There are also plenty of fishing opportunities (you can rent a Jon boat with a troll motor), complimentary activities such as bikes, stand-up paddle boards, basketball courts, hiking, playgrounds and a petting zoo. Or, you can choose to simply relax on the porch and read a good book. There’s so many choices to waste time wisely at this sanctuary where you can absorb all of nature’s goodness.
» DLCRR is dog friendly and most families on the lake during our stay did bring their dogs (leashed at all times). $35 per pet per night.
» Bring your own shampoo and conditioner as they do not provide these bathroom amenities; they do provide soap. Also bring charcoal if you’d like to grill.
» Sign up for a one-hour guided horseback ride. If you want to be active, you can walk the mile and a half to the trail riding barn or you can hop on a bike from the main office.
» Deer Lake is swimmable (in the summer heat).
» The prices are very reasonable and don’t change with high vs low season. You can rent a small cabin (for a couple) for as low as $189/night or a larger cabin that sleeps up to 16 people.
Cover photo courtesy Deer Lake Cabins Ranch Resort
Marika Flatt, named 2021 Outstanding Austin Communicator, is the Travel Editor of Texas Lifestyle Magazine. Hear her “Weekend Trip Tips” on the statewide NPR show, Texas Standard, and see her travel suggestions on TV shows across the state. She relishes a view with water, a good book and a laid-back vibe.