Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Southwest - Texas - Prairies and Lakes -

Also known as:  Possum Kingdom Reservoir

One of the most amusing names in lake recreation has to be Possum Kingdom Lake in the Prairies and Lakes region of Texas. Often called simply PK, the reservoir has been termed the best man-made lake in Texas, in Kirk Dooley’s “Book of Texas Best”. From the number of recreational opportunities listed along the 219-mile shoreline, Possum Kingdom Lake is open and ready for business. And that business is water-based fun. That wasn’t the intention of the Brazos River Authority, who built the lake in 1941 with the help of the Works Progress Administration. The purpose was flood control and water supply. But it didn’t take long for the public to discover the joys that existed above the Morris Sheppard Dam, especially since the Civilian Conservation Corps promptly constructed Possum Kingdom State Park along its southwest shore.

Possum Kingdom Lake is a major boating destination with nearly 17,000 acres of water meandering along a 60-mile stretch of the Brazos River. An ample number of marinas provide ramp facilities, boat gas, docking, slips, supplies, repairs and restaurants. All types of boating are welcome here, so power boats share space with pontoons, sailboats, water skiers, tubers, kayaks and personal watercraft. Eight Brazos River Authority Public Access sites offer picnic areas, campsites, courtesy docks, fishing piers, swimming areas and restrooms. A canoe rental below the dam offers access to a 20-mile stretch of river downstream. The many coves, arms and bays are favored by canoes and kayaks for quiet water and nature observance. All registered boats are required to have a Water Recreational User Permit from the Brazos River Authority.

Over 400 campsites exist on the lake, including BRA-access locations, the state park and private facilities located around the lake. Numerous privately-owned restaurants, convenience stores and lodges along the shoreline keep visitors well-fed and well-supplied. Every possible amenity is offered to keep the lakelubber happy, from boat rentals to cabins to resorts. Only 70 miles west of Fort Worth, Possum Kingdom Lake is the destination of choice for thousands of lake visitors on weekends, and plenty of campers and vacationers throughout the week.

Fishing is a major draw to Possum Kingdom Lake. Texas Parks and Wildlife has made sure Florida-strain of largemouth bass are stocked, along with striped bass. Anglers also cast for smallmouth bass, white bass, spotted bass, channel catfish, bream, blue catfish, crappie and flathead catfish. All Texas fishing regulations must be observed, and boats must have appropriate permits to access the water. An extensive system of hiking and biking trails is being developed to allow nature access to visitors. There is a one-quarter mile nature trail at Westside Park and a one-mile hiking trail along the Brazos below the dam. A 16-mile trail on the east side of the lake offers several trailheads with restrooms, public parking areas, access to a 90-foot high vantage point overlooking the lake, wooded areas, and limestone canyons. Lovely natural views are numerous from atop the limestone bluffs towering over much of the lake.

One of the best-known landscape features of Possum Kingdom Lake is Hells Gate, a narrow channel which cuts between an island and a row of cliffs. Both a Boy Scout camp and a YMCA camp have long owned acreage along the shoreline. A number of housing developments overlook the meandering lake, often set back from the shoreline with leased access to the water. A few cottages still sit on leased lots along the shore, although the BRA is in the process of selling many of the leases. A few areas sublease building lots for private cottages and cabins. Possum Kingdom Lake even has its own Chamber of Commerce, helping to engender a sense of community and encourage visitors. To that end, several annual events are produced that encourage visitor participation. One is the Annual Possum Fest and Cook-off. No ‘possums’ are injured in pursuit of the winning barbecue or chili. The TRIFECTA Triathlon and the Sprint Distance Triathlon are held here each fall. And at Clark Gardens Botanical Park near Mineral Wells, the annual Run From The Ducks timed event each year benefits the National Vietnam War Museum.

Mineral Wells, about 25 miles from Possum Kingdom Lake, is a historical little city with a colorful past. One of the more interesting historical excursions available in Mineral Wells is the Old Jail Museum which anchors a complex of restored frontier buildings that demonstrate life for the area’s pioneers. Every building is furnished with period artifacts. A favorite of children and adults alike is the Mineral Wells Fossil Park. This park is operated by Mineral Wells Parks and Recreation with the assistance of the Dallas Paleontology Society. Here, an eroded embankment exposes small common fossils, mostly extinct marine animals. Visitors can still arrange tours of one of the mineral water bottling plants in the area. Crazy Water got its name from a claim that a mentally ill woman regained her sanity after drinking the mineral waters found locally. As the mineral mixture contains a large amount of naturally-occurring lithium, which is used in treatment for some mental diseases, there may have been a hint of truth to the legend.

Mineral Wells figures prominently in the story of how Possum Kingdom Lake got its unusual name. An eastern merchant came to Mineral Wells hoping for improved health from imbibing the waters and apparently became healthy enough to develop a business buying and selling furs. One group of trappers repeatedly brought him large numbers of opossum pelts from an area he began to call Possum Kingdom. The name stuck, and the reservoir built many years later inherited the name. In keeping with the light-hearted name, Possum Kingdom Lake is reputed to be one of the best ‘party’ lakes in Texas – and there’s usually one going on somewhere every weekend during the warmer weather.

The lucky visitor to Possum Kingdom Lake will find all types of lodgings available for a night or a week’s stay. Several resorts, camps, guest ranches and tourist cabin-type self-catering facilities are located along the shore. Bed-and Breakfasts are located nearby, and occasionally private cottages are found for weekly rental. Larger hotels and motels can be found near Mineral Wells. And real estate is still available, some existing homes and some building lots. Many have water access and views, and a few actually have lake frontage. There’s something at Possum Kingdom Lake to suit every budget and activities to meet every interest.

*Statistics for lake size vary widely from different sources. Those listed are from the Brazos River Authority. Water levels are lower than usual at present due to drought.

Things to do at Possum Kingdom Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Park
  • Museum

Fish species found at Possum Kingdom Lake

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

Possum Kingdom Lake Photo Gallery

Possum Kingdom Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Brazos River Authority

Surface Area: 16,716 acres

Shoreline Length: 219 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 998 feet

Average Depth: 37 feet

Maximum Depth: 145 feet

Water Volume: 540,340 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1941

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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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