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5 reasons to stay on Lake Buchanan

Lake Buchanan is the largest of the Highland Lakes. With 23,000 acres of surface area and over 124 miles of shoreline, it has more potential for exploration than anywhere else in the Highland Lakes. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

Lake Buchanan is the first formed of the Highland Lakes, the largest of the Highland Lakes, and maybe the most fun of the Highland Lakes. Buchanan Dam stretches over 2 miles, stopping up the mighty Colorado River and creating a reservoir that provides the area with life-giving water and soul-feeding recreation.

With over 124 miles of shoreline, Lake Buchanan is sure to have something for everyone.

Here are five reasons to stay — and play — on Lake Buchanan.

IT'S BIG

Lake Buchanan is the first link in the chain of Highland Lakes, and it is a big link. At over 23,000 acres, it is among the largest lakes in Texas. As you move along the 124-mile shoreline, Lake Buchanan takes on different forms.

A waterfall oasis awaits on Lake Buchanan. Photo by Ronnie Madrid/Divine Radiance Photography


The rugged north end of the lake is mostly unpopulated and narrows into the winding Colorado River. You can find hidden waterfalls, nesting eagles, and pristine Highland Lakes habitat the farther you go.

The western shores of Lake Buchanan harbor the small community of Tow, home to Fall Creek Vineyards. A drive around the winding western shore will give you a taste of old-school, lakeside country living that you didn’t know you needed.

The southern shore of Lake Buchanan gets you closer to civilization. Buchanan Dam caps off the lake, rising 145 feet and separating Lake Buchanan from Inks Lake. You can grab a beer and a burger and watch the sunset at Reverend Jim’s Dam Pub then cut a rug at Pardners, a true-blue Texas dancehall.

The eastern shore of Lake Buchanan is a long string of countless lakeside communities, each with their own personality and project to explore. The bustling town of Burnet isn’t far away if you’re hankering for townish amenities.

It's a lot to cover, but the acres and miles of Lake Buchanan are worth traversing.

OUTDOORS SHORE TO SHORE

Lake Buchanan happens to be surrounded by some of the best outdoor opportunities in the Highland Lakes and the Texas Hill Country. Take a kayak and explore endless shorelines or hop on a mountain bike and tackle Reveille Peak Ranch or Spider Mountain Bike Park. You can take a scenic chairlift ride at Spider Mountain for a view from above.

A beautiful view from the chairlift at Spider Mountain Bike Park. Photo by Ronnie Madrid/Divine Radiance Photography


Colorado Bend State Park is a hidden gem in the Hill Country with over 30 miles of hiking trails and unbelievable views of the Colorado River. A winding drive north of Lake Buchanan’s shores will take you deep into the hills and grant access to the park.

Take the Wild Cave Tour at Longhorn Cavern State Park or jump in Devil’s Waterhole at Inks Lake State Park, both of which are just a few miles from Lake Buchanan’s southern shores.

Lake Buchanan and the surrounding country are ideal for those looking to experience the wild side of the Highland Lakes.

PLENTY OF FISH

Of all of the Highland Lakes, Lake Buchanan is arguably the best for fishing. The varied terrain, large size, and flow from the Colorado River add up to ideal conditions for angling.

Lake Buchanan is popular with anglers. Photo by Ronnie Madrid/Divine Radiance Photography


Massive blue cats and flatheads lurk in the channels and crevices beneath the lake’s surface. Target the blue cats with cutbait or stink bait and the flatheads with live bait.

Lake Buchanan is considered one of the best lakes in Texas for striped bass. Use live shad and a Carolina rig and target drop-offs or humps for striper action.

Target white bass during their annual spawning season, which typically begins in February. Use jigs, crankbaits, topwaters, and live bait — they’ll bite it all.

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Lake Buchanan is underrated when it comes to largemouth bass. Anglers have their best luck with largemouth bass in the spring and fall.

Drop a line in the water and see what you can reel in on Lake Buchanan.

WONDERFUL WILDLIFE

Lake Buchanan is surrounded by small Highland Lakes communities and it isn’t far from larger hubs like Marble Falls and Burnet, but the lake truly shines when you look at its natural wonders.

Warmer weather, abundant food, and wide-open spaces draw in all kinds of wildlife, including bald eagles, white tailed-deer, ringtails, coyotes, porcupines, skunks, armadillos, rattlesnakes, migratory birds, owls, foxes, and opossums. Spot them all as you explore the shores and surroundings of Lake Buchanan.

Canyon of the Eagles is a nature resort on the northern shores of Lake Buchanan, where you can have a first-rate experience in the unspoiled Hill Country.

Go eagle spotting on a Vanishing Texas River Cruises trip. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton


A Vanishing Texas River Cruises voyage is a favorite way to go eagle spotting. The cruise takes you around the lake to known nesting locations where you can see bald eagles in the wild. Even if it isn’t eagle season, the cruise is a terrific way to explore the Colorado River and the hard-to-reach portions of the lake.

Whether you’re watching eagles in the winter, following migrating monarchs in the fall, wowing at wildflowers in the spring, or wading with the herons in the summer, Lake Buchanan has a natural wonder to see every season.

HIGHLAND LAKES COMMUNITY

While Lake Buchanan is the farthest north, it might give the best taste of what it's like to live in the Highland Lakes. Get to know the smaller towns that lie off of the beaten path or the bustling hubs.

Llano is a beautiful historic Texas Hill Country town to the west, Buchanan Dam is as downhome country as it gets, and Tow is a bonafide village.

Marble Falls is the economic and cultural hub of the Highland Lakes, Burnet is the county seat and historic heart, Kingsland is the laid-back lake-life lounge, and Horseshoe Bay is the upscale lakeside resort town on the rise.

The shores and coves of Lake Buchanan and the surrounding Highland Lakes are home to countless communities, each with their own story. Take the time to visit them all.

Whether you’re looking for a refined vacation lakeside, a dusty dancehall, or a wildlife wonderland, Lake Buchanan has it all.

dakota@thepicayune.com

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