8 Reasons Texas Has the Best Lakes in the U.S.

Canyon Lake close to San Antonio, New Braunfels, San Marcos and Wimberley in the Texas hill country. It is part of the Guadalupe River. You can walk on the dam. There are many beaches on the shores.
© Tricia Daniel/Shutterstock.com

Written by Kathryn Dueck

Updated: October 4, 2023

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There are plenty of reasons to visit the Lone Star State, but right at the top of the list is its amazing lakes. Texas is home to over 7,000 lakes, both natural and manmade. Whether you’re in the mood for swimming, fishing, boating, or just gazing at the spectacular scenery, there’s something for you to enjoy. Read on to discover some of the best lakes in Texas – and 8 reasons Texas has the best lakes in the U.S.!

1. Natural Beauty

Aerial Shot above Canyon Lake in the Texas Hill Country

Canyon Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in Texas.

©Dana Rasmussen/Shutterstock.com

Texas is a state rich in natural beauty, and its lakes are no exception. From stunning vistas to azure waters to canyon hikes, Texan lakes hold something for the beauty lovers in all of us. For example, Caddo Lake is widely considered one of Texas’ most beautiful bodies of water with thousands of acres of bayous and cypress trees. Other notables are Lady Bird Lake, Lake Travis, Possum Kingdom Lake, and Canyon Lake.

2. Water Quality

Lake Amistad Texas

Lake Amistad is known for being one of the clearest lakes in Texas.


Some of the best lakes in Texas are the ones with the least pollution. Pollution may seem ubiquitous, but several lakes in Texas remain clean and clear. Some of these lakes are so pristine that they make excellent locations for activities like scuba diving. The relative lack of pollution also makes them safer for swimming and other water-based activities. A few of Texas’ clearest lakes are as follows:

3. Fantastic Fishing

Lake Buchanan

Lake Buchanan boasts excellent fishing, particularly when it comes to striped bass and white bass.

©iStock.com/Ryan Conine

Texas is a hotspot for avid fishermen with its many lakes and plethora of fish. Some of the best lakes in Texas for fishing include Lake Buchanan, Lake Amistad, Lake Fork, and Lake O’ the Pines. Common freshwater fish species in Texas include:

Read more about the great fishing in Texas as well as the top six fishing lakes in the state. Also, visit Texas Parks & Wildlife for more information about fishing licenses and regulations.

4. Accessibility

Austin Texas

Lady Bird Lake is easily accessible to the inhabitants of Austin.


The state of Texas has gone to great lengths to make its natural resources accessible to the public. Though authorities prohibit recreational activities on some lakes (for example, Lady Bird Lake prohibits swimming), many of the state’s prettiest and largest lakes are open to the public. Fishing docks, boat ramps, equipment rentals, and hiking trails all make Texas lakes accessible.

5. Recreational Activities

Lake Austin is a part of the Colorado River; it begins below Mansfield Dam and is principally fed by the outflow of Lake Travis.The Colorado River, which means "red" or "reddish" river in Spanish.

Lake Austin offers nearly endless recreation opportunities, including swimming and boating.


There are endless activities to engage in while visiting one of Texas’ lakes. Swimming, boating, fishing, and hiking are popular activities all over the state. Here are a few examples of lakes offering a variety of activities and experiences:

  • Lake Austin: One of the most famous lakes in the state is Lake Austin, which offers swimming, boating, cruises, hiking, and the world-class Lake Austin Spa Resort.
  • Canyon Lake: This lake is known as “The Jewel of Texas Hill Country.” It sits between Austin and San Antonio and offers endless views of its stunning blue waters. Recreational activities abound, including numerous hiking trails like the one that runs through Canyon Lake Gorge.
  • Lady Bird Lake: This lake is located in the capital city of Austin. Motorized boats are prohibited, but canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards are welcome. Also, hike the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail for 10 miles of gorgeous lake scenery.
  • Lake Whitney: For a more serene experience, visit Lake Whitney in Lake Whitney State Park. This lovely reserve showcases the best of the state’s clear waters and thriving wildlife.
  • Lake Travis: This highly popular lake near Austin has it all, from waterparks to obstacle courses to boat parties to scuba diving.
  • Lake Amistad: This lake boasts beautiful waters, canyon scenery, and prehistoric Native American paintings that go back as far as 4,000 years.

Check out this article for a list of the best swimming spots in Texas.

6. Rich Biodiversity

Large menacing American alligator Alligator mississippiensis in the wetland and marsh at the Myakka River State Park in Sarasota, Florida, USA

Texas lakes are home to many diverse species, including the American alligator.


Texas is rife with intriguing wildlife that roam in and around its many lakes. In addition to the fish species mentioned above, Texan lakes feature frogs, toads, lizards, snakes, and many species of birds. Mammals like black bears, white-tailed deer, opossums, armadillos, bats, and many more also roam in the surrounding wilderness. Check out the following article for a more complete list of animals in Texas.

In addition to the aforementioned types of wildlife, Texas has between 400,000 and 500,000 alligators. Most occur in the eastern regions of Texas close to Louisiana. If you’re keen to catch a glimpse of an alligator, here’s a list of the four most alligator-infested lakes in Texas. If these snappy reptiles are not your thing, consider avoiding lakes in the eastern part of the state!

7. Great Weather

Lake Lewisville Texas

The state of Texas is known for being incredibly sunny throughout the year.

©Trong Nguyen/Shutterstock.com

Because of its location, Texas avoids some of the climate extremes of its northerly neighbors. Summers tend to feature long periods of warm, sunny weather punctuated by occasional rainfall. Texas is one of the sunniest states in the U.S. with the sun shining about half the time in winter and about ¾ of the time in summer.

Most rainy days occur from March to May and September to October. The eastern, subtropical portion of Texas tends to be more humid than the western portion, which is dry. Winters are generally mild and dry with little to no snow, though temperatures occasionally dip below freezing (32°F).

8. Size and Depth

Pink and Purple Sundown Sky at Toledo Bend Reservoir on Texas/Louisiana State Line

The Toledo Bend Reservoir is the largest lake in Texas with an area of 289 square miles.

©Bonnie Taylor Barry/Shutterstock.com

Some of the best lakes in Texas stand out for their impressive dimensions. While many Texan lakes are small in size, a few truly exist on a grand scale. Toledo Bend Reservoir is renowned for being Texas’ largest manmade lake – and the state’s largest lake, period – with an area of 289 square miles. The second and third largest lakes in Texas are the Sam Rayburn Reservoir and the Falcon International Reservoir with areas of 179 and 154.63 square miles respectively. The largest natural lake in the state is Lake Texoma with an area of 139 square miles and approximately 70 fish species.

But it’s not all about surface area. Texas lakes also run deep. Lake Amistad is the state’s deepest lake with a maximum depth of 217 feet. A close contender for the title is Lake Travis with a maximum depth of 210 feet. One of the state’s most famous lakes, Lake Buchanan, gets as deep as 132 feet.

Summary Table of the 8 Reasons Texas Has the Best Lakes in the U.S.

1Natural beauty
2Water quality
3Fantastic fishing
5Recreational activities
6Rich biodiversity
7Great weather
8Size and depth
Summary of the 8 reasons Texas has the best lakes in the U.S.

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About the Author

Kathryn Dueck is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on wildlife, dogs, and geography. Kathryn holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical and Theological Studies, which she earned in 2023. In addition to volunteering at an animal shelter, Kathryn has worked for several months as a trainee dog groomer. A resident of Manitoba, Canada, Kathryn loves playing with her dog, writing fiction, and hiking.

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