Lake Livingston, Texas, USA

Also known as:  Livingston Reservoir

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Lake Livingston — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

Topics we cover in this article:

Looking for Lake Livingston cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Lake Livingston

Sometimes referred to as a “water wonderland,” Lake Livingston is the second largest lake contained entirely within Texas. With over 450 miles of shoreline, it covers 83,000 acres and runs through four different counties: Polk, Walker, San Jacinto, and Trinity. The Trinity River Authority created Lake Livingston, under contract with the City of Houston, for municipal, industrial, and agricultural water supply. The Authority completed the Lake Livingston Dam in 1969, creating a reservoir 39 miles long and 7 miles wide at its widest. At 2-1/2 miles long and an average height of 55 feet, the dam controls the flow of the Trinity River. Several communities dot the shoreline making it an excellent place to live or visit.

Lake Livingston is only 80 miles north of Houston, making it an ideal weekend getaway or day trip. Noted for its boating opportunities, Lake Livingston has over 100 boat launching ramps in state parks, resorts, home communities, and marinas around the lake. However, due to the size of the lake there is usually plenty of room on the water for pontoon boats, speed boats, ski boats, and fishing boats, even on busy holiday weekends. To take full advantage of the water, head to the lake during the week when you will have it almost to yourself.

Besides boating, Lake Livingston offers hiking, picnicking, swimming, geocaching, 5,000 campsites, and fishing in several parks along the shore. Lake Livingston State Park, located one mile southwest of the town of Livingston, offers mountain biking, hiking and equestrian trails along with a swimming pool, campsites, nature study and a lighted fishing pier. The park is located near the ghost town of Swartwout, a steamboat landing in the 1830s and the meeting place of Polk County’s first commissioners court. Wolf Creek Park, managed by the Trinity River Authority, is located near Cape Royale, a lake community with abundant wildlife and an 18-hole golf course. The park has camping, water sports, fishing and boating. There are 30 campsites for RV’s, 54 tent sites with water and electricity, and 19 campsites with water only. The park has a marina to launch personal watercraft and boat rentals for those who don’t have their own boat.

Known for its catfish and white bass fishery, a day at Lake Livingston would not be complete without a little fishing. Lake Livingston is often referred to as the “Catfish Capital of Texas.” Fish records include a 78-pound blue catfish, a 114-pound flathead catfish, a 12.88-pound hybrid striped bass and a 31.5-pound striped bass. Fishing is great from shore as well as in a boat, so anyone with a rod and reel stands a good chance of catching something. Other fish in the lake include largemouth bass, blue gill, channel catfish, white bass, and black crappie.

If wildlife is where your interests lie, then Lake Livingston is definitely a place you want to visit or have a second home. White tail deer roam the shores and area communities along with opossums, raccoons, squirrels and foxes. Located just off the Texas Coastal Birding Trail, Lake Livingston is not short on bird varieties either. Some of the more common birds are cardinals, blue jays, humming birds, road runners, eagles, snowy egrets, turkey vultures, blue herons, and ducks. The humming birds are most commonly seen in early May and leave the area by the end of September. Eagles are best seen during the winter months all along East Texas and down the coastline. Birds and mammals are not the only wildlife common along the shores of the lake. Watch out for alligators, which can be found living in the creeks, and always be aware of poisonous snakes including water moccasins and rattlesnakes.

Lake Livingston has pleasant weather most of the year with winter averages of 55 degrees, spring and fall averages of 75 degrees, and summer averages of 92 degrees. The lake, which is kept at a constant level with typical variations of one to two feet, has an average depth of 23 feet with the deepest water near the dam at 90 feet. During your drive to Lake Livingston in the spring, you will be assured of seeing the famous Bluebonnets from March to early May along with Indian Paint Brush, Indian Blankets, and Buttercups.

Whether a weekend trip or a year-round weekend home, Lake Livingston is one of the best kept secrets just an hour north of Houston. Check out the vacation rentals, which include waterfront homes, boat houses, and acreage in the many small coves that make up Lake Livingston. Pack up the kids, grab your fishing poles, and head to the Piney Woods of East Texas.

Things to Do at Lake Livingston

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Swimming Pool
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park

Fish Species Found at Lake Livingston

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

Find Places to Stay at Lake Livingston

If you’re considering a Lake Livingston lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Lake Livingston Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Lake Livingston lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Lake Livingston Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Trinity River Authority

Surface Area: 83,000 acres

Shoreline Length: 450 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 131 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 58 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 135 feet

Average Depth: 23 feet

Maximum Depth: 90 feet

Water Volume: 1,750,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1969

Drainage Area: 2,672 sq. miles

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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