Lady Bird Lake, Texas, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Southwest - Texas - Hill Country -

Also known as:  Town Lake

Lady Bird Lake is a beautiful 468-acre reservoir in the capital city of Austin, Texas. The lake is the easternmost lake in a chain of reservoirs on the Colorado River. The reservoir was formed in 1960 by construction of the Longhorn Dam at its eastern end. The western end of the lake is impounded by the Tom Miller Dam built in 1939. The reservoir was created to serve as a cooling pond for the Holly Street Power Plant, and to provide drinking water as well as a place of recreation for residents and visitors to the city of Austin.

Originally named Town Lake, the six mile long body of water was renamed Lady Bird Lake in 2007 in honor of Lady Bird Johnson, the former First Lady of the United States and long-time resident of Austin. A stunning lake in the 1960s, by the 1970s, Town Lake and its shoreline had become neglected, polluted and overgrown with weeds and trash. Appalled by the appearance of the lake, Mayor Roy Butler partnered with Lady Bird Johnson to establish the Town Lake Beautification Committee with the goal of transforming the Town Lake area into an appealing recreation area. Johnson’s involvement brought attention and money (including $19,000 of her own) to the project. The lake was cleaned up and stocked, and hiking and biking tree-lined trails were built along the shoreline. In renaming the lake, the City of Austin recognized Lady Bird Johnson for her dedication to reviving the ailing lake.

Lady Bird Lake is a tranquil lake with 18.3 miles of shoreline that can be enjoyed year-round by anglers and paddlers. Along with the University of Texas women’s rowing team, teams from northern universities train on Lady Bird Lake during Christmas holidays and spring breaks. Motorized watercraft and swimming are not allowed in the lake, but Austin’s largest downtown park, Zilker Park, is adjacent to the lake, and Barton Springs Pool, a natural pool on Barton Creek which is a major attraction for swimmers, flows into the lake. Fish species in Lady Bird Lake include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, channel catfish, carp, and sunfish. Below Tom Miller Dam is Red Bud Isle, a small island formed by the 1900 collapse of the McDonald Dam that now serves as a recreation area with access to the lake for canoeing and fishing.

Nature lovers will find an abundance of birds and wildlife around Lady Bird Lake. Bald cypress, sycamore, cottonwood, elm, and other indigenous trees line the lake and provide shade for an afternoon picnic as well as homes for birds, squirrels, raccoons, and other wildlife. The 10.1-mile long Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail circles the lake and offers a quiet view of the water and relatively flat trail for exercise.

A unique summertime attraction can be found at the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge which spans Lady Bird Lake and is home to North America’s largest urban colony of Mexican free-tailed bats. At dusk, from March to September, visitors can watch the dramatic sight of up to 1.5 million bats that fly off in search of their nightly meal of insects. Eight other bridges span the lake, including two pedestrian-only bridges which are part of the Hike and Bike Trail.

Those not interested in bats may find music venues on the banks of Lady Bird Lake more to their liking. Events at the lake include the Austin City Limits Music Festival in the fall, the Austin Reggae Festival and Spamarama in the spring, and many open-air concerts at Auditorium Shores on the south bank and Fiesta Gardens on the north bank.

For vacation rentals and accommodations, downtown Austin is just north of Lady Bird Lake. The fourth-largest city in Texas and the 15th-largest in the United States, Austin has an unlimited number of lodging and real estate options. Situated in the heart of Texas, Austin is surrounded by a particularly beautiful area of green hills and large lakes. Austin is known for its music and live entertainment and is also home to the impressive University of Texas. Austin features some truly beautiful tourist attractions, including the State Capitol building, the Capitol Complex Visitors Center, Zilker Botanical Gardens, the Austin Zoo and may top museums and spectacular gardens.

If you are planning a trip to the Austin area, be sure to pay a visit to shimmering Lady Bird Lake. The mild climate year-round lets you enjoy fishing, boating and walking and offers fun for the whole family as a vacation or retirement destination.

Things to do at Lady Bird Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum

Fish species found at Lady Bird Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Carp
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish

Lady Bird Lake Photo Gallery

Lady Bird Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: City of Austin

Surface Area: 468 acres

Shoreline Length: 18 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 428 feet

Maximum Depth: 18 feet

Water Volume: 6,409 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1960

Water Residence Time: 3.65 days

Drainage Area: 38,240 sq. miles

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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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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

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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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

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.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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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.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

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.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

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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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

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.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

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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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

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".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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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.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

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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