Lake Buchanan, Texas, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Southwest - Texas - Hill Country -

Also known as:  "Big Buc"

Lake Buchanan, the oldest and northernmost of the Highland Lakes, is known as “Big Buc” to the locals and anglers who regularly visit the area. It is located 60 miles northwest of Austin in the Texas Hill Country, and was formed by the construction of Buchanan Dam by the Lower Colorado River Authority to provide hydroelectric power and supply water to the area. Completed in 1937, with a length of just over two miles, Buchanan Dam was considered one of the longest multiple arch dams in the U.S.

Visitors enjoy scenic drives and cruises around Lake Buchanan. The eastern shore is rugged and hilly with granite cliffs, deep water, waterfalls and cactus, while the western shore has nice beaches (granite pebbles) for swimming, fishing, water skiing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, and picnicking. Lake Buchanan is a level-controlled reservoir, and will not be allowed to flood during periods of heavy rain. The lake level can, however, drop significantly during periods of drought.

Lake Buchanan is noted for its excellent striped bass and white bass fishing. It also contains largemouth bass and Guadalupe bass populations. Striped bass do not naturally reproduce in the reservoir, and are stocked by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department along with largemouth bass, catfish, and white bass. A low-density white crappie population is present. The upper end of the reservoir produces many large white crappie each year. Blue, channel and flathead catfish occur throughout the reservoir. Lake Buchanan offers a variety of cover and structure. The area near the dam and the east side of the lake up to the Silver Creek area is rocky. This area has numerous rock piles, ledges, and chunk rock banks consistent with a highland-type lake. The west side from mid-lake up looks more like a flatland type reservoir with numerous flat coves that have a lot of flooded brush to fish when the lake is up. Water color in the reservoir ranges from clear at the dam and gradually becomes more turbid as you move up the lake.

There is plenty of lodging for tourists around the waterfront of Lake Buchanan. Much of the property bordering Lake Buchanan is privately owned, so there are numerous lakeside resorts, cottages and homes available to rent. Most lodges provide waterfront cabins with kitchens, boat launches, swimming areas and docks for fishing. Public and privately owned RV parks and tent camping areas are also plentiful. There are several communities with a large percentage of retired residents along the west side of the lake. Retirees are attracted to Lake Buchanan by the climate, boating, fishing, year round golf, the quiet lifestyle, and simply because there are so many retirement communities here.

The Lower Colorado River Authority maintains three parks on the Lake Buchanan: Cedar Point Recreation Area, Black Rock Park, and Canyon of the Eagles. Canyon of the Eagles is the ultimate in an outdoor experience and cannot be missed. It is a place designed for enjoying nature. Most of the 940 acres of Canyon of the Eagles Park have been set aside as a nature preserve for wildlife, such as Bald Eagles, Black-capped Vireo, and Golden-cheeked Warbler. Established by the Lower Colorado River Authority, Canyon of the Eagles has helped the LCRA to create an eco-friendly lodge on the shores of Lake Buchanan. The Lodge includes a restaurant with a spectacular view of the lake, 14 miles of hiking trails, and porches for rocking and looking at the birds. During the winter months you can see American bald eagles soaring outside the windows while they are south for the winter. On the northern edge of the park, Canyon of the Eagles houses the Eagle Eye Observatory, operated by the Austin Astronomical Society (AAS) where you can view the stars from the observatory.

For more natural wonders consider a trip to nearby Longhorn Cavern State Park. There you will be awed by Longhorn Cavern. The cave was first formed thousands of years ago when the ground levels of water began to drop. As this downward movement occurred, the water began to dissolve the limestone. This downward drainage continued until great underground stream beds were cut out of solid rock. It is this unusual combination of dissolving and cutting by water that makes Longhorn Cavern one of the most unique caves of the world. Fossil remains show that many Ice Age animals once occupied the cave

Every season at Lake Buchanan offers its own spectacular sights and activities. November through March is a wonderful time to see one of the largest colonies of American Bald Eagles that migrate to the state. April through June the area turns into a wildflower delight with endless flowers covering the fields. The Bluebonnet flowers are a favorite. The Indian Paintbrush flowers are also breathtaking during April of each year. Also each April, the annual Lake Buchanan Regatta and Dam Jam is held at Cedar Lodge. Dozens of boats participate in the regatta, and artists come to Lake Buchanan from all over to perform.

The beauty of Lake Buchanan and the Texas Hill County is sure to please all who visit. Relax on a beach. Hit the links at a local golf course. Rent a boat or wave runner to cruise the lake. Fish until you catch the ‘big one.’ Take a cave tour at Longhorn Cavern State Park, or visit Fall Creek Vineyard to sample their wine. Pack your bags and start planning your Lake Buchanan vacation.

Things to do at Lake Buchanan

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park

Fish species found at Lake Buchanan

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Flathead Catfish
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • White Bass
  • White Crappie

Lake Buchanan Photo Gallery

Lake Buchanan Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Lower Colorado River Authority

Surface Area: 22,335 acres

Shoreline Length: 124 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,020 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 984 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,021 feet

Maximum Depth: 132 feet

Water Volume: 875,566 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1937

Drainage Area: 31,828 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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