Texas isn’t just famous for its iconic cowboy culture and delicious barbecue – it’s also a haven for scenic lakes. Whether man-made or naturally occurring, Texas boasts over 7,000 lakes, putting it among the top 10 states in the US with the most lakes. From stunning landscapes to water adventures, Texas has it all when it comes to beautiful lake destinations.
And when it comes to its lakes, Texas continues to live up to the adage that everything is bigger there. Not only are they a sight to behold – they also offer a myriad of exciting recreational activities, like boating, fishing, and even scuba diving. Warm year-round temperatures make the lakes and reservoirs accessible all year round for residents and tourists alike.
If you’re planning a visit to the Lone Star State, you may want to check out the biggest lakes in the state:
1. Toledo Bend Reservoir (182,490 acres)
Spanning over 182,490 acres, Toledo Bend Reservoir takes the crown as the biggest lake in Texas and the largest man-made lake in the southern United States. It’s located between Texas and Louisiana, offering a whopping 1,200 miles of shoreline for visitors to enjoy. It was formed in the late 1960s by building a dam on the Sabine River to provide hydroelectric power generation, flood control, and a water source for both Texas and Louisiana.
Fishing is the main attraction here, with various tournaments held throughout the year for catching bass, crappie, carp, white bass, striped bass, and catfish. However, if fishing isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other activities to indulge in, such as jet skiing, wakeboarding, and tubing. The surrounding forest areas are also great camping sites and hiking trails for those who like to immerse themselves in nature.
2. Sam Rayburn Reservoir (112,590 acres)
Sam Rayburn Reservoir takes the title as the second-largest lake in Texas and the largest lake that is entirely located within Texas. This lake is a man-made reservoir in the Angelina River Basin and covers an area of 112,590 acres.
Located in east Texas, just a little over an hour away from Beaumont, this lake is famous for its fantastic fishing opportunities. In fact, it’s ranked as the best bass lake in the entire country! With abundant largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, and white bass, it’s no wonder that Sam Rayburn hosts numerous fishing tournaments annually. If you’re looking for pro-level bass fishing, this is the place to be.
If you’re not into fishing, boating is another popular activity in the area. Also, if you’re interested in history or nature trail hiking, then you can visit The Angelina National Forest, located just north of the reservoir, and rent a dreamy cabin there!
3. Falcon Reservoir (85,195 acres)
Falcon Reservoir is a large lake located on the Rio Grande, right on the border between Texas and Mexico. It’s about a half-hour drive from Laredo and ranks as the third-largest lake in Texas. The lake serves as an important water source for agriculture and municipal use in South Texas, as it was built for hydroelectricity, irrigation, flood control, and water conservation.
With a surface area of 85,195 acres, Falcon Reservoir offers a wide range of activities for visitors to enjoy. You can go bird-watching, try geocaching, water skiing, or spend a relaxing day out on your boat. If you’re an amateur angler, Falcon Reservoir is a great destination. However, if your boat reaches the Mexican border, you will need a Mexican fishing license.
4. Lake Texoma (78,420 acres)
Lake Texoma is a highly developed lake that covers both North Texas and Oklahoma counties, with a whopping 78,420 acres of surface area and more than 70 different species of fish. It’s one of the top fishing spots in the region. But more than a fishing spot – it is a beloved destination for outdoor fun and relaxation.
Lake Texoma it’s the quintessential American lake that has something for everyone. While the water may not be crystal clear for swimming, it boasts several beaches perfect for a family outing. And whether you’re looking for horse trails, campsites, cabins, or even a scenic cruise around the lake, Lake Texoma has you covered. Another unique feature is the option to visit casinos on the Oklahoma side, offering a different kind of entertainment for those seeking a break from the sun.
5. Lake Amistad (66,465 acres)
If you feel like going on a trip to the border, Lake Amistad is a must-visit picturesque lake. Spanning 66,465 acres, this unique and expansive lake is situated on the border between Texas and Mexico. The name “Amistad” translates to “friendship” in Spanish, capturing the essence of this shared waterbody. Two-thirds of the lake lies within the United States, while the remaining portion belongs to Mexico.
Lake Amistad offers a range of recreational activities for visitors to enjoy. Access to the lake is free for swimming, but if you plan on boating, camping, or hunting, you’ll need to obtain a special pass. Yes, hunting is allowed in this area, providing opportunities to pursue various games such as deer, javelina, turkey, and more.
With its breathtaking views of mountains and crystal-clear water, Lake Amistad is a must-visit destination. Fishing, boating, swimming, and scuba diving are popular activities on the lake. Hiking trails allow visitors to explore the area’s natural beauty, while wildlife enthusiasts can spot deer, coyotes, and various bird species. Camping facilities cater to both RVs and tents, providing a range of options for overnight stays.
6. Richland-Chambers Reservoir (43,384 acres)
Located southeast of Corsicana, Texas, Richland-Chambers Reservoir is a hot spot for boaters. With 330 miles of shoreline, spanning 43,384 acres in surface area, this popular man-made lake has one of the largest water volumes in Texas, making it a haven for fishing enthusiasts, as it is ideal for catching bass, catfish, and crappie.
But fishing is just the beginning! Visitors to the reservoir can also enjoy a range of activities. Whether you’re camping with your loved ones, observing wildlife, or seeking thrills on the water with swimming, boating, tubing, or jet-skiing, Richland-Chambers Reservoir has it all. You’ll find scenic picnic areas where you can relax, have lunch, and soak in the stunning views of the surroundings.
7. Lake Tawakoni (37,325 acres)
Lake Tawakoni, nestled in Northeast Texas, covers a sprawling surface area of over 57 square miles. Sitting on 376 acres of beaches, forests, and lakeshore, it’s the perfect destination for a serene and relaxing getaway. Fishing enthusiasts will be thrilled with the abundant opportunities on Lake Tawakoni, as it’s home to popular species like catfish, bass, and crappie that are sure to satisfy any angler’s appetite for adventure. Lake Tawakoni holds a special distinction as the ‘Catfish Capital of Texas,’ thanks to its plentiful catfish population.
If you’re in the mood to explore the nearby attractions, you won’t be disappointed. Just a short drive away, the historic town of Greenville awaits, offering a delightful array of dining options, antique shops, and fascinating museums. For evening entertainment beyond roasting marshmallows, make sure to check out the lake’s amphitheater and the exciting events happening throughout the summer.
8. Cedar Creek Reservoir (32,873 acres)
Located 50 miles to the southeast of Dallas, Cedar Creek Reservoir is an unmissable spot. It’s a delightful destination spanning 32,873 acres, offering plenty of cozy coves for fishing, swimming, and skiing. This reservoir, nestled in Kaufman and Henderson counties, offers a picturesque setting adorned with lush green trees and rolling hills, creating a serene and beautiful environment. The northern end of the lake boasts shallow waters that are ideal for fishing, while the lower end features deeper sections with abundant vegetation, creating a diverse and captivating environment.
Whether you’re seeking relaxation or an adrenaline-filled adventure, Cedar Creek Reservoir has something for everyone. Immerse yourself in the crystal-clear water for a refreshing swim, or try your hand at water skiing for an exhilarating experience.
Along the 320 miles of shoreline, you’ll find Fisherman’s Wharf, a haven for camping enthusiasts. This well-equipped area provides amenities suitable for the whole family, including parking facilities, gear-cleaning stations, and spaces to regroup and relax after a long day of enjoying the water.
9. Lake Livingston (32,538 acres)
Looking for a fantastic spot to enjoy water activities and stunning views? Look no further than Lake Livingston in the enchanting East Texas piney woods. This expansive lake spans 32,538 acres and serves as a vital freshwater source for Texas residents.
However, it’s not just a reservoir; it offers a plethora of recreational opportunities as well. The lake was built by the Trinity River Authority of Texas and has long become popular among tourists who want to explore the beauty of the state. Whether you’re seeking a family outing or a getaway with friends, Lake Livingston is an idyllic destination. Its breathtaking natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and a wide range of recreational activities like fishing and hiking trails is definitely worth visiting. Anglers will be delighted by the abundant fishing options, including catfish, crappie, bass, and white perch. And if you’re in need of a break from camping, cabins are available for rent too.
10. Ray Roberts Lake (28,646 acres)
Among the 22 reservoirs on the Trinity River, Ray Roberts Lake stands out for its unique allure. Spanning Denton and Cooke counties, this 29,350-acre man-made lake does not only attract lake enthusiasts but also visitors who are looking for a captivating experience in nature.
In this lake, you can enjoy activities like fishing at the kid’s fishing pond, boating adventures, or simply unwind on the sandy shores. Ray Roberts Lake boasts plenty of campsites, allowing you to fully embrace the outdoor experience. Whether you seek adventure or a peaceful retreat in the great outdoors, Lake Ray Roberts never fails to deliver an unforgettable experience. Keep an eye out for turtles and frogs in the wetlands—they’re often spotted in the area!
Caddo Lake (26,800 acres)
Though it’s #17 on the list of the largest lakes in Texas, Caddo Lake is worth a mention because it’s the largest natural lake in the state. Located in eastern Texas, the gigantic lake is situated on the border of Texas and Louisiana. This lake is truly a remarkable treasure that must be protected for future generations to enjoy. In fact, it’s home to some incredible sights, such as centuries-old cypress trees that create a hauntingly beautiful landscape. With over 70 species of fish and several endangered creatures like the paddlefish, bald eagle, and alligator snapping turtle, it’s a haven for nature enthusiasts.
It’s not advisable to swim here, as you’ll get a full-on swamp situation, but it’s great for outdoor recreation nonetheless. You can rent a canoe or bring a kayak to explore the lake’s paddling trails. Tourists flock to the area to see endangered creatures up close.
Lake Travis (19,048 acres)
A must-visit destination in the Austin area, Lake Travis is an iconic lake that holds a special place in the hearts of Central Texans. If you’re looking for a fun and lively atmosphere, Lake Travis is the place to be. It’s known for its party scene, so why not rent a yacht or a party boat and have a blast with your friends?
Just a short drive from downtown Austin, Lake Travis offers 270 miles of shoreline for you to explore. It’s a popular spot for water activities like swimming, paddleboarding, kayaking, fishing, speedboating, and jet skiing. However, please be cautious when swimming and stick to designated areas to ensure your safety. Don’t miss the chance to visit the famous Hippie Hollow, where you might encounter a few adventurous individuals enjoying the lake in their birthday suits.
The best time to visit Lake Travis is during the spring, when blooming wildflowers create a beautiful backdrop. You’ll also enjoy cooler temperatures with less humidity compared to the summer months. There are also plenty of vacation rentals, hotels, and luxury resorts available, ensuring you have a comfortable and memorable stay.