Lakes are one of the most popular retreats during the summer months. They offer tons of entertainment opportunities, regardless if you are looking to go for a swim with your friends, get the boat out, or even bring out the fishing rod. Most Texans are probably well-aware that their state is one of the best places to do this – its 270,000 mile area includes a large number of lakes and other water reservoirs, which are ideal for swimming, boating, or fishing. There’s even an entire region of Texas called the “Lakes and Prairies”.
But even if you know that there are a lot of lakes in Texas, have you wondered how many lakes are there in Texas exactly? Below, we will go over this question, as well as some other facts about the lakes and water reservoirs in the Southern state.
How Many Lakes Are There in Texas?
There are thousands of lakes in Texas. Searching for how many lakes are there in Texas might yield different results. In the end of the end, it all boils down to what one would consider a lake. If you count all the very smallish lakes, then the number can easily reach up to 7,000. The majority of these small lakes attract plenty of fishermen occasionally, but they are by no means popular and sought after spots.
In reality, the significant lakes in Texas are a little bit over 150 – according to the official website of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. Of course, this number includes all major lakes in Texas. Those, by the way, are situated mostly in the Eastern part of the state. In fact, Texas appears to be one of the dampest states out of the fifty. As we already mentioned, you want find most of these in the Western part, which is rather dry – most of them are around Houston and Dallas.
Are There Any Natural Lakes in Texas?
Yes, there are natural lakes in Texas. There is a local myth that Texas has only one natural lake, and you might have heard this at least once somewhere. However, we assure you that there is nothing truthful about it. While there are many man-made lakes in Texas, there is also a fair number of natural lakes – such as the one most of you have probably heard of, Caddo Lake. And while Caddo Lake might have formed naturally in the 1800s, it has seen its fair share of man-made changes since then – but we will talk about this in a bit.
How Many Natural Lakes Are There in Texas?
So, if Caddo Lake is not the only natural one, then what is the total number of natural lakes? While an exact number cannot be given, there could be thousands depending on what size of a body of water you consider to be a lake. While this number sounds surprising and maybe even unrealistic, you should know that natural lakes are not always the massive bodies of water that come to your mind. Many of Texas’ natural lakes are known as oxbow-lakes, or resacas.
These lakes are easily recognizable, because they usually have a U-shape and are in a close vicinity to a river bed. In fact, they were previously a meander of the river, but they were cut off at some point.
Another naturally occurring lake is the playa. Playas are created because of rainfall runoff and, as you can probably guess, they form in the lower points of the land. Because plays form in the result of rainfall, they could disappear during dry periods, and then reappear when rains occur. If you count playas as natural lakes, then you should know that there are at least 19,300 of them in Texas.
What is the Largest Natural Lake in Texas?
The largest natural lake in Texas is Caddo Lake. It was formed in the 1800s when a natural log jam occurred the Red River. The jam was so large that it even has a name in history books – the Great Raft. In fact, this event lead to the natural creation of several lakes, but almost all of them have dried out through the years. This might also have become the fate of Caddo Lake when the Great Raft was cleaned out in 1873, resulting the lake emptying out. What had once been a shallow lake, had turned into mostly swampland, with small patches of water here and there.
So, where did the aforementioned man-made changes come into play? In the 1900s, explorers discovered oil underneath the swamp land that was previously Caddo Lake. However, due to the nature of the terrain, it was impossible to bring and use drilling equipment. Since the equipment was usable on floating barges, the solution was to flood the lake temporarily.
The temporary solution became permanent in 1914 with the creation of an earthen dam, which flooded the area and created the Caddo Lake you see today.
Originally, Caddo Lake covered an area of around 30,000 acres. Today, its size is approximately 25,400 acres, or around 64mi². The original Caddo Lake was also much deeper – estimates show that its level was at least 10 feet above what we see today.
What Lakes Are Natural and Not Manmade in Texas?
To put it short, natural lakes are those, which were created because of natural events. Typically, this happens because of tectonic, glacial, or volcanic activity. Most natural lakes are the deepest at their center.
Man-made lakes, on the other hand, may often be referred to as reservoirs. Their size varies greatly – from a few hundred acres, to thousands of acres. The majority of those are created by damming up sections of a river, creating artificial bodies of water. But why are there so many man-made lakes in Texas?
One of the primary reasons for this is the unpredictable weather in the Lone Star state. You are all well-aware of the long dry periods that could occur, often followed by massive downpours. These dams help control the flow of water, and reduce the impact of unpredictable weather patterns.
What is the Largest Lake in Texas?
The largest lake that is fully in Texas is Sam Rayburn Reservoir, with a surface area of 114,500 acres. The biggest lake in Texas that shares a state line is Toledo Bend Reservoir. A large part of Toledo Bend spills into neighboring Louisiana. Toledo Bend Reservoir spans over 185,000 acres, so it is clearly a lot bigger than Sam Rayburn Lake. Lake Texoma is also a big multi-state lake, at 93,000 surface acres between Texas and Oklahoma.
Sam Rayburn Reservoir was created 1965, and it is fed with water by the Angelina River. The purpose of the reservoir includes flood control, conserve water, and of course the generation of power. The lake is open to the public, and it is popular for all sorts of recreational activities such as boating and fishing. Some of the commonly encountered fish species in Lake Sam Rayburn are bluegill, channel catfish, and largemouth bass.
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