Escape to a West Texas Lake
When you think of West Texas, your first thought probably isn’t afternoons of water skiing and lounging on boat decks. If you imagine only windswept, dead level plains full of dust devils and sunbaked fields, then you’re in for a refreshing surprise. West Texas is home to more than one hidden oasis. With drought at an end, water levels have risen fast, making it time to cool off with a splash in these area lakes.
Located about 30 miles northeast of Amarillo, Lake Meredith is a reservoir on the Canadian River. For decades the lake was a source of drinking water for South Plains cities like Lubbock and Amarillo, supplying nearly one trillion gallons. Severe drought changed that, however. In 2013, the lake dropped to an all-time low. Fortunately, the dry years are over and water levels have increased dramatically to a current depth of over 65 feet. High times have come again to Lake Meredith. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has been stocking the lake with fish and boat ramps have reopened.
Lake Meredith boasts a treasure trove of recreational activities, such as water sports, fishing, and camping. Water skiing, tubing, and wake boarding are popular thanks to the lake’s features. Meredith has a narrow profile and many coves, which are favorite spots due to their natural wind protection. Camping sites are located on scenic overlooks and beach areas. All campgrounds are free, no reservations needed. Anglers appreciate the lake for its diverse varieties of fish. Each summer boating is all the rage. Currently boat ramps at Sanford-Yake, Fritch Fortress, Cedar Canyon, and Harbor Bay are open for use by the public and there’s no fee for boating on the lake.
Twelve miles Northwest of Silverton, Lake Mackenzie is a prized location for good watery fun. Everything from sail boats to jet skis cross its cool, rippling surface. The surrounding land is home to 35 miles of ATV trails, perfect for adrenaline junkies or those who enjoy a more sedate ride. The lake was named for Colonel Ranald Mackenzie, who attacked a large camp of Comanche, Kiowa, and Cheyenne Indians in the area in 1874. Centuries earlier, the Coronado Expedition camped among Teya Indians in Tule Canyon, now part of the reservoir.
The quad of Off-Road magazine named the recreation area as the top camping spot in Texas, as well as one of the top ten in the nation. Lake Mackenzie takes pride in its 36 campsites on a bluff overlooking the water. Each site is complete with electricity, water, and a covered picnic table. Boating permits can be obtained at Mackenzie Bait & Tackle on the south side. While there, check out the fossils on display, including an extinct horse discovered by a group of home school children. Give the shop a call at 806-633-4335 for RV Hookup reservations or more information.
Buffalo Springs Lake
Just east of Lubbock, Buffalo Springs Lake is the perfect summer escape. Whether you want to get your adrenaline flowing on a jet ski or prefer a peaceful hike along stunning nature trails, this is the place for you. The stocked lake is relaxing fun for fishermen. Enjoy the pair of beaches, Bikini Hill and Sandy Point, or play a round of golf.
Live concerts from a variety of musicians are held throughout the summer, as well as numerous other exciting events. Camping at the lake is first come, first serve. Restrooms with showers are available. If you prefer luxury instead of roughing it, the Party House can be rented, complete with free Wi-Fi and all the comforts of home. Whether you’re there for the weekend or an afternoon, Buffalo Springs Lake is an unbeatable getaway for the whole family. Come out and experience it for yourself.
Possum Kingdom Lake
One other fantastic lake is Possum Kingdom Lake. Located in foothills of the Palo Pinto mountains, less than 90 miles west of Fort Worth, an hour north of Abilene and 3 hours east of Lubbock. Boasting of more than 18,000 acres of crystal clear water, Possum Kingdom is an oasis surrounded by beautiful cliffs and rolling hillsides. Whether you are visiting for a weekend or staying for a lifetime, Possum Kingdom Lake has the amenities and services to meet your every need, from first-class dining and resorts to some of the finest marinas and golf courses in Texas.
Morris Sheppard Dam named for Senator John Morris Sheppard and authorized by the United States Congress in 1935 was the first erected by the Brazos River Conservation and Reclamation District, later to become the Brazos River Authority (BRA). It was begun on May 29, 1938 and was completed March 20, 1941. Engineers estimated the lake would need several years to reach full level, however, within a few days of completion; heavy rains up river caused the lake to fill within 24 hours.
Whether your interest is water sports, camping, fishing, history, sightseeing, special events or just looking for something different for a vacation or weekend getaway, Possum Kingdom Lake and the counties of Palo Pinto, Young and Stephens offer a huge variety of activities or plenty of opportunity for just plain relaxing.
There are plenty of things to do at Possum Kingdom Lake. Events are scheduled virtually every month, making Possum Kingdom the perfect year around family destination.
Other awesome West Texas lakes include White River Lake, near Crosbyton, and Lake Alan Henry, located not far from Post. Whether you’re a visitor to West Texas or a longtime resident, a dip in the lake is exactly what you need to feel refreshed and relaxed.