Lake Travis

Most of the lakes in Texas are man-made, reservoirs created by damming rivers. They are necessary for flood control and for providing drinking water to Texas' urban centers. The lakes in Texas are home to local species and to migrating songbirds, and they are a delight to bird watchers and casual viewers. Many lakes are surrounded by parkland, others by towering forests, still others are encompassed by tall bluffs and rolling hills. Here are the best Texas lakes. Photo: amadeustx/Fotolia

» Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake, an urban lake situated in downtown Austin, was formed by the 1960 damming of the Colorado River with the Longhorn Dam. The dam was erected for flood control and for recreation, and the lake named for Lady Bird Johnson, former first lady of the United States and long-time Austin resident.

The lake is surrounded with hotels and apartment blocks, but there are also plenty of parks, including Auditorium Shores on its south side where open-air concerts are performed, and Zilker Park, Austin’s largest park from which canoers, kayakers, and rowers can launch. No motorized watercraft are permitted on Lady Bird Lake. Fish caught in the lake are inedible due to high levels of chlordane in the water. A 10.1-mile hiking and biking trail runs the full circumference of the lake and is very popular with residents and visitors. Contact: Auditorium Shores, 900 West Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78704, Phone:512-974-6700 Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/Fotolia

»Boating lakes near me: Lake Conroe

Boating lakes near me: Lake Conroe

Lake Conroe is a 21,000-acre man-made lake in Montgomery County in East Texas. It was constructed in 1972 as an alternate water source for the city of Houston and sits on the west fork of the San Jacinto River.

It is a popular destination for jet-skiing boating; the most frequently used public access point is Lake Conroe Park, which has boat slips, fishing piers, two swimming areas, a children’s playground, picnic tables, grills, horseshoe pits, and volleyball courts. The lake runs through east Texas into the evergreen forests of Sam Houston National Forest. The fishing in Lake Conroe is excellent, with good-sized largemouth, white, and striped bass, bluegill, and channel catfish. Contact: Lake Conroe Park, 210 W. Davis Street, Conroe, TX 77304, Phone: 936-788-8302 Photo: Lake Conroe

»Best Lakes in Texas: Canyon Lake

Best Lakes in Texas: Canyon Lake

Canyon Lake is a reservoir on the Guadalupe River in the lovely Texas Hill Country. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dammed the river to provide flood control and formed eight parks around the lake that are still in use by visitors and locals wishing to swim, go boating, camp, or have a picnic next to a pristine lake with great views of the surrounding hills.

There are boat ramps in the Comal Country portion of the lake, and excellent fishing for largemouth, striped, and white bass as well as catfish. Canyon Lake Gorge gives guided tours of the rock strata, which is more than 100 million years old and has fossils and a set of dinosaur footprints. All around the lake are hiking, biking, and equestrian trails for public use. Contact: Hwy. 306 West, New Braunfels, TX 78130, Phone: 210-964-3341 Photo: rbryan /Fotolia

»Lakes near me: Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Lakes near me: Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Sam Rayburn Reservoir opened in 1965 after an extensive project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a dam to prevent the flooding of the Angelina and Neeches Rivers and to provide drinking water for nearby communities. It is located in the heart of East Texas pine forests and is a highly popular location for anglers.

Over three hundred fishing tournaments are held in the Sam Rayburn Reservoir annually; the main catch in this stocked lake are largemouth bass, crappie red ear sunfish, blue gill, and channel catfish. There are many access points to the lake through campgrounds, resorts, and marinas, and locals and visitors use the reservoir, the largest in Texas, for waterskiing, boating, swimming, and the land around it for camping, nature hikes, and scenic drives. Contact: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District, Jasper, TX 75957, Phone: 409-384-5716 Photo: Sam Rayburn Reservoir

»Boating Lakes near me: Toledo Bend Lake

Boating Lakes near me: Toledo Bend Lake

Toledo Bend Lake is a reservoir on the Sabine River in both Texas and Louisiana; most of its surface area is in Louisiana. It is the largest reservoir in the south, and the damming of the Sabine River took place in 1969 by the Sabine River Authority. With 1200 miles of shoreline, the lake is a beautiful location for recreation, as it is set amongst lovely rolling hills and pine trees.

Its sandy beaches make it an ideal place for building sandcastles, picnicking, and swimming, while its calm waters are a lovely place for boating, as long as boaters stay within the marked boat lanes. Otherwise there is a danger of collision with the tree stumps and trees that were left in the reservoir when it was built. Fishermen will find striped bass, catfish, and bluegill, especially in the spring and autumn. Contact: Sabine River Authority of Texas, 450 TX-135 Spur, Burkesville, TX 75932, Phone: 409-565-2273 Photo: Dale/Fotolia

»Possum Kingdom State Park

Possum Kingdom State Park

Just an hour west of the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area is Possum Kingdom State Park with miles of shoreline on the clear blue lake. The 1,500-acre state park was constructed in the 1940s by the Civilian Conservation Corps and is now a popular destination for fishing, swimming, boating, waterskiing, scuba diving, and snorkeling. Visitors to the park can cast their line from the fishing pier, from the comfort of their own boat, or from a canoe rented from the park’s marina.

Catch in the lake includes largemouth, striped, and white bass, channel and blue catfish, and white crappie. Also available at the marina are wakeboards, kneeboards, water skis, and tubes for fun out on the lake. Visitors can camp overnight at a full-hookup campground or rent one of the park’s air-conditioned cabins. Watch out for free-roaming Texas longhorns wandering the park! Contact: 3901 State Park Road 33, Caddo, TX 76429, Phone: 940-549-1803 Photo: Tomasz Zajda/Fotolia

»Lakes near me: Lake Whitney State Park

Lakes near me: Lake Whitney State Park

Lake Whitney State Park is located along the eastern shores of the lake, which is a flood-control reservoir on the Brazos River. Opened in 1965, the park is an excellent location for fishing and for spotting wildlife and birds; 195 species of birds have been spotted here, and include wild turkeys, bald eagles, egrets, ibis, hawks, falcons, woodpeckers, brown pelicans, bluebirds, and kestrels. On land, keen-eyed visitors may see white-tailed deer, foxes, coyotes, and bobcats. The park has campsites, screened-in shelters, and group facilities.

Day use visitors may use the picnic tables and boat slips, and they are welcome to enjoy recreational activities on the water. The park is a remnant of the once-great Texas plains, and visitors can walk through its tall grass prairie and seek shade under groves of live oak and blackjack oak. Spring sees the park covered with fields of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush. Contact: 433 FM 1244, Whitney, TX 76692, Phone: 817-694-3793 Photo: Hundley Photography/Fotolia

»Best Lakes in Texas: Lake Buchanan

Best Lakes in Texas: Lake Buchanan

Lake Buchanan is the second largest of central Texas’ Highland Lakes, and it was created in 1939 by the damming of the Colorado River. Located sixty miles northwest of Austin, the thirty mile long lake has 124 miles of shoreline that has been given over to campgrounds, rental cabins, and lakeside homes. Its gravel shores are ideal for swimming and sunbathing, and there is excellent fishing for striped bass.

It is a great lake for birdwatching, and visitors with a pair of binoculars can watch nesting bald eagles as well as the scissor-tailed flycatcher, great blue herons, great egrets, pelicans, cormorants, and roadrunners. Armadillos live in the area, as do opossums, bobcats, chameleons, deer, and foxes. Photo: Jack R Perry Photos/Fotolia

»Lakes near me: Lake Texoma

Lakes near me: Lake Texoma

Lake Texoma sits on both sides of the Texas-Oklahoma border, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created it along with the Denison Dam in 1944 to prevent the flooding of the Red River. It is the 12th largest lake in the United States and has over 1,000 miles of shoreline, perfect for swimming, playing on the beach, or enjoying one of the over 700 campsites in the ten campgrounds around the lake.

Lake Texoma is a very popular place to fish, as the natural minerals in the water are the perfect environment for striped bass, which grow as big as 15-20 lbs. Many other species of fish live here also, including crappie and catfish. Around the lake are 25 miles of equestrian trails, hiking trails leading to the bluffs overlooking the lake, boat rentals, concessions, and wildlife refuges that are home to a large variety of birds. Photo: Kit Leong/Fotolia

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»Lake Travis

Lake Travis

Lake Travis is a man-made lake near Austin, Texas in the chain of Highland Lakes in Texas Hill Country. Created in 1942 to prevent the flooding of the Colorado River, Lake Travis is 65 miles long and has 270 miles of shoreline. It is a beautiful, pristine lake with clean water that supplies Austin and its metropolitan area.

Texans come here to go boating, swim, picnic, camp, and zip-line. Lake Travis is a fisherman’s delight with its population of largemouth, guadalupe, white, and striped bass, catfish, and sunfish. Young people enjoy tubing and wakeboarding on the lake. Bob Wentz Park is a popular entry point of Lake Travis; it has concessions, volleyball courts, picnic tables, and restroom facilities. Photo: amadeustx/Fotolia

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»Best Lakes in Texas: Lewisville Lake

Best Lakes in Texas: Lewisville Lake

Lewisville Lake is one of the largest lakes in northern Texas and was formed by the damming of the Elk Fork of the Trinity River for flood control and to provide drinking water to the citizens of Dallas. The lake is in the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area, and it is a popular recreation site, particularly on weekends.

One of the more appealing weekend attractions is the laid-back atmosphere of Party Cove near Westlake Park, where people drink and listen to music while relaxing in tied-up boats. There is an annual large scale bass fishing tournament on Lewisville Lake, which is stocked with largemouth, spotted, white, and hybrid striped bass. The many parks around the lake provide places to sunbathe, swim, and go boating; several establishments offer boat and jet-ski rentals. Things to Do in Austin Contact: Lewisville, TX 75029 Photo: Lewisville Lake

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»Lakes around me: Lake Tawakoni State Park

Lakes around me: Lake Tawakoni State Park

Lake Tawakoni State Park is only fifty miles east of Dallas, and it is a terrific natural resource for boating, swimming, fishing, and hiking or mountain biking the five miles of trails through 376 acres of oak forest. The park has an amphitheater for rent and a trading post that sells souvenirs, ice, snacks and cold drinks, and fishing bait and tackle.

There are annual fishing tournaments, as this lake is full of striped, largemouth, and white bass, crappie, and high-fin blue catfish. In the forest, visitors can see red and gray fox, bobcats, coyotes, possums, armadillos, and cougars; frogs and beavers can be spotted on the waterfront. The lake is a reservoir on the Sabine River, formed to provide water to surrounding cities, including Dallas. Contact: 10822 FM 2475, Wills Point, TX 75169, Phone: 903-560-7123 Photo: Lake Tawakoni State Park

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»Lakes near me: Lake Bridgeport

Lakes near me: Lake Bridgeport

Lake Bridgeport is a manmade reservoir created in 1932 by the damming of the western fork of the Trinity River. It provides flood control and irrigation, and it is a recreational lake. Game fishing is a popular sport here, with anglers reeling in largemouth and sand bass as well as crappie and sunfish.

Wise County Park on the northern shores of the park offers campsites with full hookups, picnic facilities, a children’s playground, pavilions for rent, and public showers and restrooms. The lake’s clear, clean water is ideal for swimming, recreational boating, and jet-skiing. There are marinas and boat ramps along the 170 miles of shoreline, as well as boat rental agencies. Contact: Wise County Park, 372 County Road 1638, Chico, TX 76431, Phone: 940-644-1910 Photo: Uncle Ulee/Fotolia

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»Boating Lakes near me: Inks Lake State Park

Boating Lakes near me: Inks Lake State Park

Inks Late State Park is in Texas Hill Country, one hour northwest of Austin. In this lovely park, there are facilities for swimming, camping, backpacking, and boating. Nine miles of trails are waiting for visitors to who want to hike, and Devil’s Waterhole offers a canyon to hike and climb. There is a bird blind from which interested visitors can spot some of the many birds indigenous to the park, including turkey vultures, great blue herons, snowy egrets, mallards and wood duck, cardinals, and many types of owls.

There are 200 campsites and 22 cabins for rent, with playgrounds throughout the campground. Fisherman may land sunfish, catfish, or several types of bass, and they can fish either from the pier or from a boat. At the camp store, visitors may rent paddle boats, canoes, kayaks, paddles, and life vests, as well as food and camping supplies. Contact: 3630 Park Road 4 West, Burnet, TX 78611, Phone: 512-793-2223 Photo: William C. Bunce/Fotolia

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»Lake O’ The Pines

Lake O’ The Pines

Lake O’ The Pines is a freshwater reservoir on Big Cypress Bayou in east Texas surrounded and shaded by tall pine trees. A night at one of the many campgrounds around Lake O’ The Pines can be spent gazing up at the night sky through the pines. There are many parks around the shoreline of the lake that offer camping, picnicking, boat ramps, and swimming beaches.

Three marinas make it easy to get watercraft into the lake, and there is a boat rental business in Avinger for those without their own boat. Fishermen will appreciate the stock of chain pickerel, white, spotted, and largemouth bass, crappie, and sunfish. Photo: ericurquhart/Fotolia

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»Lake Grapevine

Lake Grapevine

Lake Grapevine is a reservoir in north Texas twenty miles northwest of Dallas, near Grapevine, Texas. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created it in 1952 when they dammed Denton Creek. The lake has parks all along its shoreline and thirty miles of trails for hikers, bikers, and equestrians. Vineyard Campground, outside of the town of Grapevine, offers camping and rental cabins.

There are three marinas on the lake, all privately owned, and twelve boat ramps; the ramp in Murrell Park is free of charge. Fishing in the lake is popular, and catch includes alligator gar, several types of bass, crappie, and catfish. Wild hogs and deer live in the wooded areas around the lake and may be hunted in season. In 2010, the bones of a 96 million year old bird were found on the shores of Lake Grapevine, and it is the oldest bird skeleton found in the United States. Photo: leieng - Fotolia

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»Lakes near me: Cedar Creek Lake

Lakes near me: Cedar Creek Lake

Cedar Creek Lake is a northern Texas reservoir located fifty-five miles southeast of Dallas, and it is the fourth largest lake in Texas. It was formed in 1964 as a water supply for Tarrant County. As it is one of the very few Texas lakes that allow waterfront owners to have their own boathouse, its real estate is highly valued, especially for retirement properties.

The lake has three islands, all of which are maintained by Texas Parks and Wildlife as refuges for waterfowl. There is great fishing to be had in the lake, which has stocks of blue, channel, and flathead catfish, white, largemouth, and hybrid striped bass, and crappie. The best fishing is in the clear waters of the southern part of the lake. Photo: ericurquhart/Fotolia

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»Eagle Mountain Lake

Eagle Mountain Lake

Eagle Mountain Lake was created by the damming of the West Fork of the Trinity River in 1932. Located only fifteen miles north of downtown Fort Worth, it is a popular recreation area for city dwellers to go boating, fish, swim, and enjoy other water activities such as wake boarding, kayaking, and waterskiing.

The hills, bluffs, and mountains that surround the lake have beautiful views, and are easily accessed from Eagle Mountain Park, which has five miles of hiking trails. Shady Grove Park on the southwest shore of the lake has a shaded playground, a fine beach, softball fields, and tennis courts, while Twin Points Park at the southern tip of Eagle Mountain Lake has a three-lane boat ramp, a beach for swimming, pavilions, and concessions. Contact: Eagle Mountain Park, 11601 Morris Dido Newark Road, Fort Worth, TX 76179, Phone: 817-335-2491 Photo: Tomasz Zajda - Fotolia

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»Lake Fork

Lake Fork

Lake Fork is a reservoir designed both as flood control and as a water supply for Dallas and its suburbs. The Sabine River Authority created it in 1980 when they dammed Lake Fork Creek, a major tributary of the Sabine River. The lake is sixty-five miles east of Dallas and has 315 miles of shoreline. Most of the shore is privately owned, although there are some rental cabins.

Lake Fork is one of the premier trophy bass fishing lakes in the world, and fifteen of the twenty largest largemouth bass in Texas have been pulled from it. In addition to largemouth bass, the lake has stocks of catfish, crappie, sunfish, bowfin, gar, and bluegill. Surrounded by gently rolling upland hills, Lake Fork is a lovely place to visit in north Texas. Photo: Lake Fork

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»Lake Granbury

Lake Granbury

Lake Granbury is in north Texas, 35 miles southwest of Fort Worth. It is a reservoir that was created in 1969 by one of the three dams on the Brazos River. The lake is annually stocked with bass and catfish, and anglers will also find gar, crappie, and sunfish at the end of their lines.

Owned by the Brazos River Authority, the lake has many places for boating, wake boarding, and waterskiing, and there are five public boat ramps, two fishing piers, and four campgrounds on the shore. Granbury City Beach offers a lovely white sand beach, water features for children, kayak rentals, and public restrooms and showers. Contact: Granbury City Beach, E. Pearl Street, Granbury, TX 76048, Phone: 817-573-5541 Photo: Mr Twister/Fotolia

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»Lake Livingston State Park

Lake Livingston State Park

Lake Livingston State Park, located in east Texas one hour north of Houston, is one of the largest lakes in Texas, and it is surrounded by pine forests full of birds and animals. It also has banks ideal for swimming or for mooring watercraft. The park’s campsite has full hookups, ten screened shelters that can be rented, and a park store that carries souvenirs, snacks, drinks, and fishing and camping supplies.

The lake has an ample population of white bass, as well as perch, catfish, and crappie. Lucky visitors may spot the nesting bald eagles that live in the park, or they could see several types of woodpeckers, red-shouldered hawks, cormorants, great egrets, or black-crowned night herons. Keep an eye out for alligators and bobcats and your eyes open for the smaller park inhabitants: armadillos, opossums, and southern flying squirrels. Contact: 300 Park Road 65, Livingston, TX 77351, Phone: 936-365-2201 Photo: Lake Livingston State Park

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»Caddo Lake State Park

Caddo Lake State Park

Caddo Lake State Park is located in east Texas and is peppered with bayous, sloughs, and ponds that wrap around bald cypress trees dripping with Spanish moss. Alligators make their homes on the shores and in the lotus and lily pad covered waterways. More than fifty miles of paddling trails are available for canoers and kayakers, and the park rents out both types of watercraft.

Forests of pine, oak, and hickory are the residence of minks, armadillos, deer, and squirrels, while turtles, frogs, and waterfowl live in the lake. More than seventy species of fish live in the lake, making it an angler’s paradise. The park has forty-six campsites, hiking trails, and cabins that can be rented. Contact: 345 Park Road 2, Karnack, TX 75661, Phone: 903-679-3351 Photo: Zack Frank/Fotolia

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»Lake Bob Sandlin State Park

Lake Bob Sandlin State Park

Lake Bob Sandlin State Park, located in northeastern Texas, is a lake and forest haven for those seeking peace and natural surroundings. Deer sightings are common, and the lake and forest are home to many species of birds, including eagles. The park’s campsites are full hookup, and screened shelters and group pavilions are available.

Fishermen will love being out on the water or fishing from the pier; the usual catch here is largemouth and Florida bass, catfish, and rainbow trout. The forests are spectacular, particularly in fall, and consist of oak, pine, maple, dogwood, redbud, and hickory. There is a small 19th century cemetery of Confederate soldiers that is worth a visit. Contact: 341 State Park Road 2117, Pittsburg, TX 75686, Phone: 903-572-5531 Photo: svetlanais/Fotolia

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25 Best Texas Lakes & Swimming Holes