Texas lakes and rivers go together. Such a huge state as Texas would be expected to have many lakes and rivers. Don't you think?
The U.S. Geological Survey has documented 11,247 rivers and streams in Texas. 14 of them can be considered major rivers. Within the state, their length totals approximately 80,000 miles. If imagine putting them end to end.1
Instead of this introduction with a Texas river map, get right to where you select any of your interest in the:
Within these Texas rivers, there've been created 196 important lakes.6
With growing population after westward immigration of the 1800s, floods were sometimes a problem. Construction of reservoirs began for flood control. Later when drought set in, Texas recognized their secondary benefit was saved water resources.6
Some streams feeding into rivers become intermittent. Some river flows are inconsistent. Reservoirs have been important creations. Doing just as their name says: reserving the flow of river and stream water.
Impounding waters via dams into Texas man-made lakes. Similar to all the U.S., providing these benefits for Texans:
Any major Texas reservoir holds at least 5000 surface acres of water. 188 reservoirs are designated for water supply benefits.6 Let's take trips along Texas lakes and rivers, watching their connecting flows. Here's your Texas Lakes and Rivers map, for an overview:
Review some of the major Texas lakes and rivers, and some of the upstream sources & tributaries supporting them. Click on those you're mainly interested in. Or to browse them all, just keep scrolling on down!
Journeying for miles as a shared river. How? It naturally forms much of the Texas border with Louisiana.
It's the farthest Southeastern Texas lake and river we generally concern ourselves with here. And for our site overall, as well, our most southeastern lake and river.
Sabine Lake - Its outlet at the Gulf of Mexico, technically an estuary. The Sabine has strong flow along its 555 meandering miles. In fact, total flow into Sabine Lake is more than any other Texas river. Because all its watershed areas get plenty of rainfall.2
Follow it from Sabine Lake in a generally North-Northwest trajectory, you'll pass parks, wildlife refuges, boating ramps, and of course Texas lakes & river-side campsites. Plus many time-formed secondary lakes, like oxbow, fluvial, & anthropogenic lakes.
The first Texas reservoir you'll encounter is Toledo Bend Reservoir, sharing shores with Louisiana. Texas's western shore has plenty to offer:
You could stay lakeside, awhile more, if you wanted to cross over Pendleton Bridge. You could find some East-side Stays that maybe you'd prefer.
Or move along upriver!
That ends the shared Louisiana border. Go along to multiple boating areas, like Yellow Dog Boat Launch & McFadden Landing. If you get to Longview, you can try Riverview RV park, with pretty good reviews.
At Hawkins, SW of State Hwy.80, the Sabine River borders Little Sandy National Wildlife Refuge. There try out the lakes & ponds for fishing.
The Sabine River meanders along southeast of Mineola. To border Mineola Nature Preserve. With 4 fishing ponds.
And West of W.Mineola there's even more, on Hwy.80's Southern side. Some may be private lakes with homes for sale or rentals:
Until further upriver on the east side, see another oxbow called Goose Lake.
Just as the Sabine's banks widen out again, approaching Lake Tawakoni Dam! Which forms a large Texas lake...
Sabine River continues out from Wichita Bay at the far north end, past Stone Point. Its banks soon narrow, meandering through treed flatlands.
Flowing below I-30, west of Exit 96. Soon reaching several Greenville reservoirs, adjacent to the Water Treatment plant. And thereafter dwindling off into its source.
Many pecan trees grow along its banks. That's how it got the name, for "nut" in Spanish. How is the Nueces pronounced? New - Way - Seize.
Originally named by Spanish who explored the area, calling it "Los Brazos de Dios" which translates as the arms of God. They had reason to call it that, as they were thirsting for water when coming upon it. However, there are several arms to its flow!7
Native Americans in the area in those times likely referred to it as Tokonohono.7
The total length of the Brazos River is 840 miles, from the confluence of 2 main tributaries begin its waters. It reaches the Gulf of Mexico just South of Freeport.7
The heavily flowing Brazos River has several main tributary arms:
42 Brazos River Lakes are sourced from this river flow, within its watershed!13 This amazing river, is so important for Texas recreation. It also has heavy water demands from other needs.
So Much To See & Do Along the Flow of The Brazos River!
What are other Texas rivers that have created major Texas lakes?
Not too long east-west through the Texas Panhandle, but the waters make it to a super lake:
This storied River has headwaters in the Texas panhandle. But moving on from there, it begins sharing the border divide of Texas & Oklahoma. Following all along through many Texas land forms, from pure red-sand desert to grassy woodlands.
It reaches the Northeastern corner of Texas, at Texarkana. That location, as you may tell by the name is where the Red River begins flowing into Arkansas.
But while moving across Texas, the Red River courses through multiple scenic areas for fun, terrific recreation, and nice vacation spots. Check out these examples:
The headwaters' sources are forks in north Texas. Flowing all the way south to outlet at Galveston Bay. As you may notice in the above image, there are four major Northern Forks:
Once the forks have joined, some miles south of Dallas metro-area, there are many miles more to go! Many more Trinity River confluences. The Forks, & plenty more substantial creeks & watercourses. All contributing on its flow southeasterly to its outlet.
So much of this major Texas River that You Can Explore!
This Texas Colorado River doesn't flow from the Colorado River of Arizona, Utah & Colorado, etc. It's totally inside the borders of Texas, with many important features & tributaries.
It begins in quite dry Texas country. But natural springs pop up around there, getting it started. As it winds its way southeast it forms lakes you may have heard of. And provides tons of recreational opportunities, and many fun vacation stays.
You can follow the course of this major Texas river.
We'll take you On A Tour of it's flow!
Here's a great renowned Texas River from history. Have you heard of Pecos Bill? We had a kid's book for our son that featured him. We read it to him at bedtime when he was little.
Have you ever been to the visitor center featuring Judge Roy Bean? They called him "The Law West of the Pecos."
The Pecos River actually begins north of Pecos, New Mexico, in the mountains at a high elevation. By the time it flows into the Rio Grande River, its elevation is under 1000' - quite a downhill ride!
It gets into Texas from New Mexico within a lake. A man-made Texas lake, called Red Bluff Reservoir.
When the waters flow from the dam, they ramble through lots of desert & desolate areas of West Texas. The river cannot be considered pristine, unfortunately. It really could use friends.
Much of its use along the way, through desert & canyons, is for mining, gravel pits & some farming needs. It flows near oil wells. Plus some oddities, and unique or notable features. Then it ends in a reservoir of friendship.
RIDE THE PECOS FLOW
The most important thing affecting Texas lakes and rivers is rainfall. There's no two ways about it. Texas is varied in its geography & climate features, so Texas Rainfall averages 10"/year in the arid West, to 55"/year in eastern areas.
Rainfall goes somewhere, and it's influenced by factors determining availability. Yearly measurements must consider those for practical analysis.
What are the land surface types & interactions that must be considered in river formation?5
Sometimes Texas rain falls so hard & long, you wonder about flooding. Or the rainfall is a sudden deluge in a particular area, that can lead to flash floods.
The U.S. Geological Survey therefore created a system to send out notifications for your area of interest. They work with stream gauging monitoring equipment that notes when flood levels are being reached in related areas.4
See References For Texas Lakes and Rivers>
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