Lake Buchanan
Burnet, TX
Texas Outside Rating: 8.0

Acres Of Water & Miles Of Shoreline
23,000 acres and 124 miles of shoreline


Brief Overview:

Lake Buchanan Review

Lake Buchanan is the highest and broadest (maximum width is 4.92 miles) lake in the Highland Lakes chain. The eastern shore is rugged and hilly with granite cliffs and deep water while the western shore has nice beaches (granite pebbles) for swimming, fishing, skiing or boarding, windsurfing, and picnicking. There are plenty of different types of lodging ranging from camping at several RV parks to waterfront cabins or houses.

Over the last several years, the Texas drought has impacted the lake level - in December  2012 it was down 28 feet but there is still plenty of lake to enjoy.  The lack of water means that some of the public and private boat ramps may not be open - so call ahead to check  or call the  Chamber of Commerce at 800 524-4599.  The good news is that the low lake levels have created several new beaches.

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A Typical Texas Outsider Day

Why not start the day with some calm water in one of the coves (Morgan Creek or Beaver Creek or by the damn) for skiing or boarding. After skiing, cruise the far north end of the lake for some pretty scenery -- you might get lucky and spot a bald eagle (the season is early November through mid March).  If the water is deep enough, head up to the waterfall and some stunning scenery.

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Other Cool Things To Do:

If you don't have a boat you can rent one, or hire a fishing guide to help you catch some big fish, or rent a kayak, or sit by your campsite and enjoy a stunning sunset.  

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What To Do If No Boat:

If you don't have a boat, here is a link to where you can rent watercraft. You can also take a tour on Vanishing River Cruises for birdwatching or some great scenery including the waterfall or rent a kayak at Lake Buchanan Adventures, or  Canyon of the Eagles provides wildlife encounters and adventure tours.

Nearby Activities:

There are plenty of things to do near Lake Buchanan, some of which include: visit the local wineries; golf at any of several nearby golf courses (use this map to find a course); enjoy a guided tour of Longhorn Caverns; or take your boat and explore Inks Lake, Lake LBJ, or Lake Marble Falls which are all within a 30 minute drive. 

If you are staying for awhile, there are lots of fun things to see and do near Inks Lake - check out our 25 Things To Do In The Highland Lakes area.

The lake is also great for hiking, mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding.

Restaurants, Bars, & Music:

Wake Boarding & Skiing:

You should be able to find some smooth water near the dam or in one of the coves. Watch out for hazards if the water level is still down.  The lake never seems to be very crowded, making it great for skiing, tubing, or boarding.


Lake Buchanan is noted for its excellent striped bass and white bass fishing. It also contains under-rated largemouth bass and Guadalupe bass populations. White bass and striped bass runs occur in the spring (February-May) with most of the fishing occurring from Beaver Creek up into the Colorado River. Striped bass do not naturally reproduce in the reservoir and are stocked by Texas Parks and Wildlife. 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.

Species Poor Fair Good Excellent
Largemouth Bass
White Bass
Hybrid Striped Bass

*Courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife

Camping, Waterfront Lodging, and Day Use Parks

There are a number of options for lodging and camping. We recommend Big Chief (click here to read the review) for RV camping or their cabins which are on the water (when the water level is up).

Painted Sky Inn has newly renovated rooms overlooking the lake as well as RV sites.

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Ramps & Marinas

Texas Parks & Wildlife has a listing of public facilities -- click here. If you are going to Lake Buchanan during the summer of 2006, call ahead to check for ramps that are open and what size boats they can handle.

Texas Outside Rating of Lake Buchanan
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Texas Outside Rating of Lake Buchanan
(scale of 1 - 10)
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Texas Outside Lakes Rating Scale

Texas Outside rates lakes on a 1 to 10 scale based on:

  • Beauty: high scores are given for lots of trees, hills, or pretty houses
  • Water Clarity: if you’re standing in two feet of water and can’t see your toes or the water has a deep brown color, we’re talking a 1
  • Water Conditions:  rough water with waves over a foot (good for PWCs or surfing) due to consistent wind or boat wakes don’t rate high on our scale
  • Skiing & Board Conditions:  on the weekends if you can typically find a good cove or part of the lake with glass, we’re talking a 10
  • Beaches:  don’t you hate those beaches when you step into the water you sink in mud up to your knees and loose your flip-flops or it’s all slime and weeds or small rocks – if so, that’s a 1
  • Fun Scale: lakes scoring a 10 have fun restaurants and bars, great coves for raft ups or swimming, and fun rental toys
  • Cruising & Touring:  if you can cruise the lake and look at beautiful houses, nice marinas, pretty coves, or anything similar it will score high
  • Restaurants & Bars:  nothing better than cruising over and having some good food and listening to some great music on the deck of a fun restaurant – the ride back with smooth water and a fun moon is also pretty cool – we’re talking a 10
  • Safety Level: lakes with lots of wild and crazy jet skiers or fast cigarette boats will score low
  • Camping:  we’re looking for beautiful spacious sites right on the water with a nice sandy beach to swim and park the boat
  • Fishing:  the bigger the better and they have to be easy to hook


*Fishing information was provided with permission of the Texas Parks and Wildlife ( in 2006. Texas Parks and Wildlife does not endorse Texas Outside or information presented on ©Copyright Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

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