22 Lakes in Texas (Biggest, Best, and Why!)

Updated December 6, 2022 | Infoplease Staff
Benbrook Lake
Source: iStock

Did you know that the Lone Star State is home to more than 7,000 lakes? That’s right! Here are 22 of Texas’s most famous lakes, including the biggest, the best, and the most unique.

1. Toledo Bend Reservoir, Texas/Louisiana Border

Toledo Bend
Source: iStock

Location: Sabine County

Surface Area: 289 square miles (185,000 acres)     Depth: 110 feet (34 meters)

The Toledo Bend Reservoir is both the largest lake in the state of Texas and the largest man-made lake in the state. It’s also the largest lake in the South, and the fifth largest (by surface area) in the United States.

The reservoir was formed by damming the Sabine River in 1969.

The Toledo Bend Reservoir is one of the best lakes for outdoor sports, including swimming, boating, picnicking, freshwater fishing, camping, and hunting.

2. Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Southeast Texas

Sam Rayburn
Source: iStock

Location: 70 miles north of Beaumont

Surface Area: 179 square miles (114,500 acres)     Depth: 80 feet (24 meters)

The Sam Rayburn Reservoir is the second-largest lake in Texas, but the largest lake that’s entirely inside the state. The reservoir was created in 1956 and is used for flood control, generating hydroelectric power, and conserving water.

Lake Sam Raburn is popular for boating and fishing and is stocked with channel catfish, largemouth bass, and bluegill. It’s most famous for its bass and hosts more than 300 fishing tournaments each year.

3. Falcon Lake, South Central Texas

Falcon Lake
Source: iStock

Location: Starr and Zapata Counties, 40 miles southeast of Laredo

Surface Area130.7 square miles (83, 654 acres)     Depth: 110 feet (34 meters)

Falcon Lake (also called Falcon Reservoir and Falcon International Reservoir) sits along the Rio Grande River and straddles the border between Texas and Mexico.

Falcon Reservoir is stocked with numerous fish for recreational fishing. These include crappie, largemouth bass, and channel catfish.

4. Lake Texoma, North Texas

Lake Texoma
Source: iStock

Location: Grayson County, five miles northwest of Denison,

Surface Area89,000 acres (139 square miles)     Depth: 110 feet (34 meters)

Lake Texoma is one of the largest reservoirs in the United States. It’s located where the Red River and the Washita River meet and is bordered by both Texas and Oklahoma. Lake Texoma was created in 1944 for flood control purposes.

The area has two state parks, two wildlife refuges, 26 resorts, hiking trails, campsites and campgrounds, and numerous golf courses. The lake is also popular for water sports, including sailing, water skiing, and windsurfing.

5. Lake Livingston, East Texas

Lake Livingston
Source: iStock

Location: Pineywoods Park

Surface Area130 square miles (83,200 acres)     Depth: 90 feet (27 meters)

Lake Livingston is the second-largest lake located entirely within Texas. It’s a reservoir that was built by damming the Trinity River seven miles south of the city of Livingston. The reservoir provides water for agriculture and industry in the Trinity River basin and the Houston metropolitan area.

It’s a popular place for recreation, too, with publicly and privately owned marinas, campsites, and motels.

6. Amistad Reservoir, Southwest Texas

Lake Amistad
Source: iStock

Location: Val Verde County, 12 miles west of Del Rio

Surface Area101 square miles (64,900 acres)     Depth: 217 feet (66 meters)

The Amistad Reservoir, created in 1969, sits at the junction of the Rio Grande and the Devil’s River. It’s bordered by Texas to the north and the Mexican state of Coahuila to the south.

This lake is popular for water sports, including water skiing, boating, and scuba diving. It’s also a great spot to see rock art and cave paintings from Indigenous peoples who once inhabited the area, as well as other archaeological treasures.

7. Richland-Chambers Reservoir, East Texas

Source: iStock

Location: Navarro and Freestone Counties

Surface Area64.6 square miles (41,356 acres)     Depth: 75 feet (23 meters)

Plans for the Richland-Chambers reservoir originated following the 1956-1957 drought. However, the project wasn’t completed until 1989.

In 1999, a wetlands project was launched. The project reuses water from the Trinity River.

In addition, the lake is stocked with a variety of fish, including:

  • Striped bass
  • White bass
  • Blue and channel catfish
  • Largemouth bass
  • Crappie
  • Carp

And others.

8. Lake Tawakoni, Northeast Texas

Lake Tawakoni
Source: iStock

Location: Hunt County, 48 miles east of Dallas

Surface Area37,879 acres (59 square miles)     Depth: 69 feet (21 meters)

Lake Tawakoni is a reservoir that’s primarily used for municipal water supply and recreation. It’s named for the Tawakoni people, who were part of the Caddo Federation.

Lake Tawakoni and the surrounding areas are famous for wildlife, including alligators, bobcats, snakes, and feral hogs. With more than 200 bird species, it’s also a great place for bird watching.

9. Cedar Creek Reservoir, Northeast Texas

Snowy lake
Source: iStock

Location: Henderson and Kaufman Counties, 50 miles southeast of Dallas

Surface Area51 square miles (32,623 acres)     Depth: 62 feet (19 meters)

The Cedar Creek Reservoir was built between 1961 and 1965, to provide municipal water, flood control, and recreation for Tarrant County, Texas.

10. Lewisville Lake, North Texas

Lewisville Lake
Source: iStock

Location: Denton County

Surface Area29,592 acres (46 square miles)     Depth: 67 feet (20 meters)

Lewisville Lake (aka Garza-Little Elm Reservoir, Lake Dallas) was engineered in 1927 for water storage and flood control. The lake itself is popular for boating, fishing, and other recreational activities.

11. Lake Fork Reservoir, East Texas

Boy at a lake
Source: iStock

Location: Wood, Rains, and Hopkins Counties

Surface Area42.6 square miles (27,264 acres)     Depth: 70 feet (21 meters)

The Lake Fork Reservoir was created by the building of the Lake Fork Dam in 1980. Its primary purpose was to provide a premier bass fishing lake.

12. Lake Palestine, Northeast Texas

Lake Palestine
Source: iStock

Location: 15 miles southwest of Tyler

Surface Area25,560 acres40 square miles (25,560 acres)     Depth: 16 feet (4.9 meters)

Lake Palestine was built in 1962 for municipal and industrial water storage. It’s also stocked for freshwater fishing.

13. Caddo Lake, Harrison County

Caddo Lake
Source: iStock

Location: Northeast Texas

Surface Area39.6 square miles (25,400 acres)     Depth: 161 feet (49 meters)

Caddo Lake is a lake, bayou, and internationally protected wetland. It’s also the only natural lake in Texas. It was formed by a naturally-occurring log jam. Caddo Lake straddles a border with Texas and Louisiana.

Caddo Lake is part of the Caddo Lake State Park and Wildlife Management Area, which is protected by the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the preservation of wetlands.

The area is host to several hundred native species of plants and animals, including 44 species that are considered endangered, threatened, or rare.

The “Texas Bigfoot” is said to live in the area surrounding Caddo Lake.

14. Lake Ray Hubbard, North Texas

Lake Ray Hubbard
Source: iStock

Location: Dallas

Surface Area: 35.5 square miles (22,745 acres)     Depth: 40 feet (12 meters)

This reservoir was created in 1968. It’s primarily used as a fishing lake and is well-stocked with different species of bass, catfish, and crappie.

15. Lake Buchanan, Central Texas

Lake Buchanan
Source: iStock

Location: Burnett

Surface Area35 square miles (22,333 acres)     Depth: 132 feet (40 meters)

Lake Buchanan was formed in 1939 by the construction of the Buchanan Dam. The lake’s purpose was to provide water and hydroelectric power to the region. It’s also used for boating and fishing.

16. Lavon Lake, Northeast Texas

Lake Lavon
Source: iStock

Location: Collin County

Surface Area: 33.4 square miles (21,400 acres)     Depth: 12 meters (38 feet)

Lavon Lake was created by the Lavon Dam, which was finished in 1953. The main purposes of the reservoir are water storage and flood control. The lake and surrounding areas are a hub for outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, and camping.

17. Lake Conroe, East Texas

Lake Conroe
Source: iStock

Location: Montgomery County

Surface Area34 square miles (22,000 acres)     Depth: 75 feet (23 meters)

Lake Conroe is a popular site for water sports, including jet skiing, fishing, and boating.

18. Possum Kingdom Lake, Northeast Texas

Possum Kingdom Lake
Source: iStock

Location: Possum Kingdom State Park, Palo Pinto County

Surface Area31 square miles (19,800 acres)     Depth: 100 feet (30 meters)

Possum Kingdom Lake, a reservoir, was impounded in 1941. It’s located in Possum Kingdom State Park and is a popular place for hiking, camping, fishing, boating, and other outdoor activities.

19. Lake Travis, Central Texas

Lake Travis
Source: iStock

Location: Travis County

Surface Area29.5 square miles (18,930 acres)     Depth: 210 feet (64 meters)

The Lake Travis reservoir was formed in 1942, to contain floodwaters. It’s a hub for outdoor recreation, boasting facilities for fishing, boating, swimming, scuba diving, picnicking, camping, and zip lining.

20. Lake O’ The Pines, East Texas

Pine tree lake
Source: iStock

Location: Big Cypress Bayou, Marion County

Surface Area29 square miles (18,680 acres)     Depth: 230 feet (70 meters)

Lake O’The Pines was created in 1959 by damming the Big Cypress Bayou for flood control. It also provides water storage for the Northeast Texas Municipal Water District. It’s a popular place for water sports and wildlife viewing and is said to be the home to monstrously large catfish.

21. Lake LBJ, Central Texas

Lake LBJ
Source: iStock

Location: 45 miles northwest of Austin

Surface Area: 10 square miles (6,534 acres)     Depth: 90 feet (27 meters)

Lake Lyndon Baines Johnson might not be huge, but it’s rich in archaeological treasure. The area has been inhabited for at least 10,000 years, and more than 170,000 different flint tools, spear points, arrowheads, and other artifacts have been discovered in the area.

You can see some of them at the Nightengale Archaeological Center nearby.

Lake LBJ’s almost constant water level makes it ideal for a variety of water sports, as well.

22. Lady Bird Lake, Central Texas

Lady Bird Lake, Austin
Source: iStock

Location: City of Austin

Surface Area: .65 square miles (416 acres)     Depth: 18 feet (5.49 meters)

Lady Bird Lake isn’t the biggest lake in Texas, but if you’re looking for a quick getaway without leaving the city, this could be a great choice.

Lady Bird Lake (formerly known as Town Lake) was formed in 1960 when the city erected the Longhorn Dam. Its current name is in honor of the presidential First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson.

The area around the lake has a series of bike and hiking trails.

Your Questions, Answered!

Here are some of our readers’ top questions about Texas lakes. You might find your answers here, too!

What are the Top 20 Biggest Lakes in Texas?

The 20 largest lakes in Texas, from biggest to smallest are:

  1. Toledo Bend Reservoir
  2. Sam Rayburn Reservoir
  3. Falcon Lake
  4. Lake Texoma
  5. Lake Livingston
  6. Amistad Reservoir
  7. Richland-Chambers Reservoir
  8. Lake Tawakoni
  9. Cedar Creek Reservoir
  10. Lewisville Lake
  11. Lake Fork
  12. Lake Palestine
  13. Caddo Lake
  14. Lake Ray Hubbard
  15. Lake Buchanan
  16. Lavon Lake
  17. Lake Conroe
  18. Possum Kingdom Lake
  19. Lake Travis
  20. Lake O’ the Pines

What is the Biggest Lake that is Entirely in Texas?

The Sam Rayburn Reservoir is the largest lake that’s entirely in Texas.

The largest natural lake in Texas is Caddo Lake, however, it’s not entirely in Texas; it is bordered by Louisiana on one side and Texas on the other.

What is the Nicest Lake in Texas?

You can ask ten Texans this question and get ten different answers. One of our favorites, though, is Lake Travis.

Lake Travis is located in Central Texas and sits on the Colorado River. It’s a favorite for divers, boaters, and swimmers. Campers and hikers also love the wooded 400 miles of shoreline.

What’s the Difference Between a Reservoir and a Lake?

Both reservoirs and lakes are bodies of water. Some reservoirs, like Lake Mead, are quite large indeed.

Lakes can be either human-made or naturally occurring. Reservoirs are man-made lakes. Reservoirs often store water, which is used for irrigation, industry, or to provide water to towns and cities.

What are Some of the Other Big Lakes in the United States?

The Great Lakes in the Midwest, are the largest and most famous big lakes in the U.S. They are, in order from largest to smallest:

  • Lake Superior (Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Canada)
  • Lake Huron (Michigan, Canada)
  • Lake Michigan (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin)
  • Lake Erie (Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Canada)
  • Lake Ontario (New York, Canada)

Some other big American lakes include:

  • The Great Salt Lake (Utah)
  • Lake of the Woods (Minnesota and Canada)
  • Iliamna Lake (Alaska)
  • Lake Oahe (North and South Dakota)
  • Lake Okeechobee (Florida)
Source: iStock

That’s A Lot of Lakes!

Want to put your new knowledge to the test? How much do you know about the world’s lakes and rivers? Take our Rivers and Lakes quiz and find out!

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