Things to Do

Highland Lakes of the Texas Hill Country – Common Questions Answered

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Tony Maples Photography


Though many talk about the Highland Lakes in the Texas Hill Country, few know exactly which region that encompasses. Despite what many people think, this region has not always existed. Discover more about what the Highland Lakes are, how they came about, and what to do there.

Where Are the Highland Lakes?

Highland Lakes include Lake Buchanan

Photo: Flickr/John W. Schultze

These lakes form a chain of six bodies of water from northwest of Austin into the Llano Uplift. Damming the Colorado River at various points created these lakes, and while all are popular for recreation, only two are used as water supplies, Lakes Buchanan and Travis. Those who’ve traveled in the area may already be familiar with the six Highland Lakes: Austin, Buchanan, Inks, LBJ, Marble Falls, and Travis.

How Were the Lakes Created?

The Colorado River forms the Highland Lakes

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

No matter how natural they appear, the Highland Lakes are not an innate part of the environment. A series of dams created the six lakes. But, why were the lakes created in the first place? The Colorado River has long been a source of food and recreation for people in the area, but the river was also prone to flooding. To control the floodwaters, engineers created a series of dams that would create lakes behind them as the naturally undulating land flooded with water from the river. These lakes today provide people with a fun vacation destination while also preventing flooding and creating drinking water reservoirs.

What to Do in the Area?

Longhorn Cavern is near the Highland Lakes

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Parks and water sports in the area draw many weekenders and tourists throughout the year, but especially in the summer months. Check out parks such as Inks Lake State Park and Longhorn Cavern State Park. During the fall, nearby Llano is the “Deer Capital of the World” for its excellent hunting opportunities. Enchanted Rock is also nearby, south of Llano. For those who prefer indoor activities, you’ll find museums and shopping in the larger towns of the area such as Johnson City, Marble Falls, and of course Austin.