Canales Reservoir, Andalusia, Spain

Lake Locations:

Spain - Andalusia -

Also known as:  Embalse de Canales

Only a few miles east of Grenada, the Canales Reservoir is a relatively new lake in the Andalusia Region of Spain. The new reservoir is a refreshing treat in this arid region and has alleviated the seasonal flooding that so often threatened the towns along the Genil River. The new reservoir, called Embalse de Canales, provides a reliable supply of drinking water to the region. Much-needed hydroelectric generation adds to electric capacity for development purposes. As with most such progress, there were some losses, such as the old town of Canales and a popular railroad trail being covered by the rising water. But the area is adapting well to its new-found water wealth; the area surrounding the reservoir is becoming increasingly popular with hikers and cyclists enjoying the many paths around the lake.

Canales Reservoir lies at the foot of the northwest slopes of the Sierra Nevada, at the edge of the Sierra Nevada National Park. Already popular with hikers and winter skiers, the reservoir adds yet another dimension of outdoor enjoyment for holiday-makers to the Grenada region. The southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada end at the Mediterranean Coastal Plain – already a popular vacation destination. The small towns near the reservoir maintain a generations-old Spanish flavor and are developing into holiday destinations. Here visitors will experience a delightful mix of ethnic markets and eateries, holiday villas, and arrangements for hiking and cycling tours amid lush gardens of flowers and herbs. The sunshine is nearly continuous, the weather bordering on hot. Only a few miles away, among the high peaks of the Sierra Nevada, the climate is alpine, and the ski areas are some of the finest in Europe.

Little development has occurred along the actual shoreline of Canales Reservoir to date. The artificial lake fills a rugged mountainous valley, thus the shoreline is very steep. As a new reservoir, the development of a fishery is progressing. Chub and barbel are caught, along with a species referred to as boga, usually referring to an ocean fish but likely a local name for something more familiar. Both the Canales Reservoir and the Genil River are popular with canoeists and kayakers as they wind their way between picturesque rock formations and towering cliffs. An amazing amount of wildlife is learning to call Canales home. Some lakeside villas have launching facilities and advertise sailing opportunities. There are no organized public swimming facilities, but opportunities for shallow bathing waters can be found among the small coves. One favorite hiking/cycling path follows an old tramway route along the reservoir for a considerable distance and includes old tunnels and bridges remaining from the tram route. There are a variety of ruins of former villas and farmsteads near the reservoir, which are a delight to photographers and students of history.

Guejar-Sierra is the only town of any size along the Canales Reservoir. Guejar has been catering to holiday-makers since long before the reservoir was constructed. A main route into the Sierra Nevada leaves from Guejar, making it a main stop for visitors to the national park. Many of the houses in Guejar are made from the abandoned sleeper cars of the former tramway, with flower boxes on the windows filled with a glorious profusion of blossoms. Buses run from Granada to Guejar several times daily, making it easily accessible to visitors. Housing in the area has increased rapidly in the past few years, with many newer villas, townhouses and holiday apartments offering lodging for visitors. The views are terrific, the locals friendly and helpful. During the skiing season, Guejar is filled with ski visitors who often make the town their home-base for a week or two of skiing.

At the western end of Canales Reservoir, the massive dam presents an imposing sight. Unfortunately the Government of Spain does not make reservoir, dam and hydroelectric statistics publicly available. A paved path across the dam provides views of the lake and the surrounding mountains and is a favorite of cyclists. The city of Grenada is only eight miles farther west and provides examples of some of southern Spain’s most elaborate Moorish architecture. The Alcazaba de la Alhambra is an excellent example of a Moorish Castle, actually a small city in itself. The Museo Arqueologico y Etnologico holds spectacular exhibits of cultures that inhabited Spain prior to 1492. The city of 500,000 also offers art museums, beautiful churches, a variety of excellent eating establishments and many venues to watch various flamenco performances. Grenada still has a large gypsy population from which many of Spain’s best flamenco guitarists, dancers and singers have emerged. Traditionally the gypsies inhabit cave homes on the Sacromonte hill. Bullfights are held from March to November. Grenada also has a variety of holiday lodging choices from which to choose, including hotels, inns, villas, holiday lets and guest houses.

An ideal Andalusian holiday would be to spend a few days touring Grenada then move on to Guejar and Canales Reservoir. Spend some time canoeing the lake and exploring the Genil River. Take a trip into the Sierra Nevada for hiking, spectacular views, and perhaps some skiing. Make sure to take plenty of photographs as you will be leaving a piece of your heart on the shores of the Embalse de Canales.

Things to do at Canales Reservoir

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • National Park
  • Museum
  • Ruins

Fish species found at Canales Reservoir

  • Barbel
  • Carp

Canales Reservoir Photo Gallery

  • Embalse de Canales

  • Sunset, Embalse de Canales

Canales Reservoir Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Agencia Andaluza del Agua

Surface Area: 386 acres

Shoreline Length: 7 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 3,067 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 3,111 feet

Water Volume: 57,318 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1989

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

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Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

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This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

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This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

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This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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