Lake Whitney, Texas, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Southwest - Texas - Prairies and Lakes -

Also known as:  Whitney Lake, Whitney Reservoir

A welcoming oasis of water in the often dry Texas Prairies and Lakes Region, Lake Whitney draws visitors from some of the largest cities in Texas. About 65 miles south of Forth Worth and 30 miles north of Waco, the 23,500-acre reservoir is surrounded by parks and public access sites to greet locals and visitors alike. The Whitney Lake Dam was completed across the Brazos River in 1951 as a flood control project, with an eye toward providing recreation, water storage and future hydropower. Towering limestone bluffs soaring above the clear blue waters make Lake Whitney one of the most scenic lakes in Texas. In keeping with the desire to make the newly-created lake accessible to all, over a dozen parks were constructed along its 225 miles of shoreline. The largest, 955-acre Lake Whitney State Park, offers camping, nature trails, picnic facilities, bird-watching opportunities, cycling and horseback riding trails. The lake gets over two million visitors every year.

Lake Whitney is an all-sports lake, where lakelubbers can engage in swimming, power boating, jet-skiing, water-skiing, pontooning, canoeing, kayaking, tubing, sailing and nearly any other water activity they can think of. Several marinas along the shore are handy for dock space, dry storage, fuel, supplies, bait and rentals of nearly all types of watercraft. Two designated swimming beaches provide access to those interested primarily in cooling off in the water. Other parks offer boat ramps, picnic grounds, camping and fossil hunting – a favorite with children. Note that ‘finds’ cannot be removed from the shoreline, as the Army Corps of Engineers owns the entire shore up to an elevation of 741 ft above sea level.

Lake Whitney is considered one of Texas’ best fishing lakes. The irregular bottom and shoreline provide ample spawning and feeding grounds for a variety of fish. Tournament fishing occurs regularly at the reservoir, and a number of guide services offer their expert knowledge of the lake to visiting fishermen. Some of the more important prey of anglers are largemouth bass, white crappie, spotted bass, black crappie, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, white bass (sand bass), flathead catfish, striped bass hybrids, and giant blue catfish. Some of the blue cats pulled from these waters have been record-breakers! During hunting season, some of the parks are available to licensed hunters hoping to bag deer, turkey, dove, quail or duck.

Those who enjoy nature viewing have a chance to see over 50 different species of mammals and 300 bird species, including pelicans and bald eagles. An ideal family vacation choice, Lake Whitney has three 18-hole golf courses within a short distance of the water. Playgrounds and nature activities will keep the kids happy, and parents can golf to their hearts’ content. One unique activity at Lake Whitney State Park are ‘star parties’, where interested visitors can join local astronomers to view the night sky with expert guidance and interpretation. Telescopes are provided. For city-dwellers, the lack of light pollution reveals why the beloved song states the “stars at night” really are “big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas!” The Lake Whitney Arts group produces musicals, children’s plays, art exhibits and offers dance, craft and drama lessons. The small town of Whitney provides all of the restaurants and fast food service visitors could desire – they don’t even have to pack a picnic lunch! The marinas also have dining facilities and snack foods available.

An excellent choice for a summer vacation, the area around Lake Whitney is filled with attractions and points of interest that will please adults and children alike. For time spent off the water, nearby Hillsboro holds the Texas Heritage Museum at Hill College. Shopping opportunities galore exist at an outlet mall in Hillsboro. About 30 miles from Lake Whitney, Glen Rose has a number of attractions, including Dinosaur Valley State Park which holds some of the best-preserved dinosaur tracks in the world. Because the tracks are located in the riverbed, it is best to call ahead for river conditions before making a special trip. Two large fiberglass dinosaur figures are also on display which will fill the kids with awe. The Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, also near Glen Rose, is a wildlife rescue and breeding station for endangered species. Here, visitors can board tour vans for a ride through the grounds to view non-native species such as wildebeest and cheetah.

Heading southeast from Lake Whitney, the City of Waco offers a variety of arts venues, galleries, fine dining, music, theater and evening entertainment. A college town, Waco also holds the Waco Mammoth Site, with an ongoing covered excavation of a large group of prehistoric animal fossil remains, the Cameron Park Zoo, Dr. Pepper Museum, Texas Sports Hall of Fame, Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, a number of restored historical homes, and several other small museums.

The Lake Whitney shoreline holds a number of seasonal cottages, year-round homes and resorts. Although property owners do not own the shoreline itself, they are allowed the use of it for access in many cases, depending on location. Many of the lakefront developments have a public dock area with boat access to owners and renters. Lodgings at Lake Whitney are numerous and include cabins, rental cottages, campgrounds, full service resorts, luxury bed & breakfasts, hotels and larger facilities for reunions and corporate retreats. Real estate is still available – both existing homes and cottages and new construction. So pack up the kids, the swim gear, fishing rods and sunscreen. Come to where the stars really ARE big and bright! Come to Lake Whitney . . you’ll want to stay for a lifetime.

Things to do at Lake Whitney

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Tubing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Museum
  • Playground
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Lake Whitney

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

Lake Whitney Photo Gallery

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Lake Whitney Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: US Army Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 23,500 acres

Shoreline Length: 225 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 533 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 571 feet

Maximum Depth: 108 feet

Water Volume: 379,100 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1951

Drainage Area: 26,170 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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