- Canyon Lake was created in 1964 and is maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
- Since its creation, it has served to breathe new life into a once prosperous area that saw its cotton-producing industry ravaged by the voracious boll weevil.
- A popular tourist attraction, there are eight lakeside public parks in its environs.
Canyon Lake is known for its outdoor water recreation. However, it’s less known that it’s not a lake at all but rather a reservoir. The difference is that reservoirs are artificial bodies of water, or natural areas that are enlarged by excavation or the creation of levees and retaining walls. Since its conception, the population of Canyon Lake has only grown, and today it is home to thousands of human residents.
It is considered to be the gem of the Hill Country and a popular attraction for locals and visitors alike. With popular Texas cities like New Braunfels, San Marcos, and Austin nearby, it’s sure to remain a favorite destination for generations to come. We’ve shared details on the depth and details of Canyon Lake below, along with some lesser-known facts.
How Deep Is Canyon Lake?
Canyon Lake at its most resounding depth is 140 feet, which is over 12 stories tall! The area of the lake is 8,240 acres, and it has 60 stunning miles of shoreline that is at 909 feet above mean sea level.
The spillway top is 943 feet above mean sea level, and the lake stores over 382,000 acre-feet or 124 billion gallons of water. Canyon Lake Dam is 6,830 feet long and provides crucial flood control for the area. The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority is responsible for the conservation and release of water storage.
By comparison, the largest reservoir in Texas is the Toledo Bend Reservoir on the Sabine River between Texas and Louisiana. It covers 182,000 acres, so it is more than 20 times bigger than Canyon Lake, but that doesn’t take away from the value that Canyon Lake has brought to Central Texas.
At its deepest point, Canyon Lake is 134 feet deep, which could cover a 12-story building!
How Was Canyon Lake Created?
Canyon Lake was created when the construction of the Canyon Dam in Comal County was completed in 1964, after breaking ground in 1958. Once completed, Canyon Dam provided much-needed flood control from the Guadalupe River. It is owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is managed today by the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority.
Since 1964, when the impoundment of water began, residential and commercial development quickly grew. By the 1980s, over 80 neighborhoods had been built and the area was emerging as a resort and tourist destination.
Additionally, this development also renewed the agriculture and manufacturing industry in the area. Located less than 50 miles from San Antonio and Austin, Canyon Lake remains a popular destination for natives and those coming from out of town. It has eight lakeside public parks as well as two public marinas. Thousands come to enjoy the water, dining, and recreation that Canyon Lake has to offer.
What Existed There Before Canyon Lake?
In 1850, long before countless acres were filled with water, the area was a modest settlement for farmers and settlers traveling through the Guadalupe River Valley. However, Apache and Comanche Native American tribes had inhabited the land for hundreds of years before settlers made their way to Texas.
Two small towns emerged: Hancock and Crain’s Mill, respectively named after their founders. From their inception, more residents were drawn to the area and established themselves, and as a result, additional communities developed.
Life in the early 1900s was good and prosperous. However, due to decreased cotton production and an abundance of boll weevils, the economy was destroyed, and by the 1950s, hardly anyone remained. When the project of the dam was announced, it reinvigorated the local economy by creating jobs in the resort and tourist industries.
Additionally, with flood control and water storage provided by the dam, the agricultural industry was able to return. It wasn’t long before residential subdivisions and commercial businesses moved in. Today the population of Canyon Lake is 33,000.
When Canyon Lake was created, it flooded former farmland, but this tree survived on a jutting rock.
What Kind of Recreational Activities Are Available at Canyon Lake?
Canyon Lake is a destination for those looking to enjoy nature and all the activities the lake has to offer. Off the lake, you can golf, camp, and enjoy the fresh air on the hiking trails. During a picturesque stroll through the Hill Country, you may encounter abundant wildlife, including foxes, road runners, white-tailed deer, the Texas map turtle, and bats. Wild turkeys are among the native birds as are golden-cheeked warblers and the Black-capped Vireo.
On the water, you can enjoy boating and fishing, as well as water skiing and scuba diving. The most popular and abundant fish in the lake is the largemouth bass, but striped, white, smallmouth, and Guadalupe bass are also available, as is the channel catfish.
What Is Canyon Lake Gorge?
In 2002, a gorge was created when the Guadalupe River flooded, after receiving over 24 inches of torrential rain. The Hill Country was stripped of trees, and even houses, as the flood waters reached Canyon Lake and caused the water to crest over the spillway for the first time in history. However, after the waters receded from the historic flood, a 64-acre gorge was revealed. Inside was an amazing discovery! Found in the gorge were dinosaur footprints, fossils, and cretaceous limestone dating back 145 million years. The Heritage Museum of the Texas Hill Country has preserved the dinosaur tracks for the last 20 years and is a must visit for anyone interested in history and geology.
Additionally, the limestone from a bygone sea exposed the seeps, fractures, and faults in the Trinity Aquifer. Those visiting the Gorge will not only enjoy the springs, waterfalls, and dinosaur tracks, but also the rich forgotten history of the Texas Hill Country. The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, along with the Gorge Preservation Society, works to protect and ensure that this stunning geological occurrence will be around for generations to come.
Canyon Lake Gorge was formed in 2002 during a torrential flood. It uncovered fossils, dinosaur tracks, and more!
What River Is Canyon Lake Located On?
Canyon Lake is on the Guadalupe River, which travels from Kerr County down to the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 230 miles. Located near Canyon Lake, along the Guadalupe River, are nearly 25 miles of what is considered to be the most pristine span of white water in Texas. The river boats provide views of towering trees such as Elm, Bald Cypress, and Pecan, and showcase limestone bluffs and scenic views.
Recreation such as tubing, swimming, and fishing is a quintessential part of summer and can be enjoyed even in the hottest months as the river flow is managed by releases from Canyon Dam. As the Guadalupe River flows southeast towards the Gulf of Mexico, it is joined by the Comal River in New Braunfels, the San Marcos River, and the San Antonio River. The average temperature of the river is 64 degrees, making it the perfect destination all summer long.
Where Is Canyon Lake Located on a Map?
Canyon Lake, located in Comal County, Texas, is a designated area recognized for census purposes. As of the 2020 census, it had a population of 31,124. The town is included within the San Antonio Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Here is Canyon Lake on a map:
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jason Squyres/Shutterstock.com
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