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Chain of Jewels

Our Six Highland Lakes Sparkle in the Hill Country Sun

The legendary Highland Lakes—Buchanan, Inks, LBJ, Marble Falls, Travis, and Austin—wind like a meandering blue ribbon through the green canvas of the Central Texas hills. These waters also wind tranquilly through my memories.

Come on in, the water's fine! A secluded cove at Inks Lake State Park shelters Devil's Waterhole, a heavenly Highland Lakes highlight. The park lies on the lake's east shore. (Photo by Kenny Braun)

For four decades beginning in the 1950s, my aunt and uncle ran a motel on Lake Buchanan, where I spent many childhood holidays and summers fishing and swimming. In high school, I learned to scuba dive in Lake Travis, and later camped with college friends at Inks Lake State Park and at Black Rock Park on Buchanan. When I moved to Austin, I swam and picnicked at City Park on Lake Austin. And shortly after marrying, my husband and I purchased a Hobie Cat and spent countless weekends sailing from Windy Point on Lake Travis. When kids arrived, we traded the catamaran for a more stable fishing boat, which proved adequate for teaching them to water ski.

These six lakes were created by the Lower Colorado River Authority between the 1930s and 1950s to supply water and electricity and minimize the effects of flooding on the Colorado River—projects made possible thanks to supporters like Lyndon Johnson. Obviously also a recreational draw, each boasts a distinctive personality and variety of activities.

Highland Lakes

Water levels in the individual Highland Lakes vary according to rainfall and demand for water. Low levels may curtail some activities—check with your destination or the Lower Colorado River Authority (800/776-5272) for current levels. For details on LCRA parks, go to the parks' Web site. For Highland Lakes information, go to the visitor and tourist guide. Check with local chambers of commerce and CVBs for more details. Following is information for sites mentioned in the printe edition of this story.

Lake Buchanan

Canyon of the Eagles Lodge & Nature Park, at the end of FM 2341, 512/334-2070.

Vanishing Texas River Cruise (at Canyon of the Eagles), 512/756-6986 or 800/474-8374.

Fall Creek Vineyards, 1820 CR 222, Tow, 325/379-5361. 

Inks Lake

Inks Lake State Park, 3630 Park Rd. 4 West, 512/793-2223, reservations 512/389-8900. 

Lake LBJ

Horseshoe Bay Resort, 6 miles southwest of Marble Falls, 877/611-0112.

LBJ Yacht Club and Marina, 200 S. Wirtz Dam Rd., Horseshoe Bay, 830/693-9172.

Lake LBJ Resort and Marina, 667 Sandy Mountain Dr., Sunrise Beach, 325/388-9393.

Lake Marble Falls

Lake Marble Falls parks.

River City Grille, 700 1st St., Marble Falls, 830/798-9909.

Lake Travis

Travis County parks.

Windy Point Park, 6506 Bob Wentz Park Rd., Austin, 512/266-3337.

Bob Wentz Park, end of Bob Wentz Park Rd. off Comanche Trail, 512/854-7275.

Volente Beach Waterpark, 16107 FM 2769, Leander, 512/258-5109.

The Oasis, 6550 Comanche Trail, Austin, 512/266-2442. 

Lake Austin

Emma Long Metropolitan Park, 1706 City Park Rd., Austin, 512/346-1831.

Ski Shores Waterfront Cafe, 2905 Pearce Rd., Austin, 512/346-5915.


See related: Luxury on the Lakes


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