Austin Lakes, Parks, Preserves and Outdoor Attractions

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austin Lakes

Peaceful lake around Austin

The capital city of Texas is home to numerous nature attractions.  Austin lakes, parks, preserves are places where visitors can enjoy nature for a few hours, a day or a longer vacation.  Check out these Austin lakes, parks and preserves and discover the beauty of Austin.

Austin Lakes

Lake Austin… This Lower Colorado River Authority is one of the Highland Lakes.  Several parks along its shore offer access.  Lake Austin is popular for boating, marinas, and swimming.  Located on the western edge of the city.

Lady Bird Lake.. This is a stabilized course of the Colorado River through Austin.  Boat tours are offered, fishing an non motorized boats are allowed. No swimming. It is is a major recreation area for the city of Austin. Its banks are bounded by the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail, and businesses offer recreational watercraft services along the lakefront portion of the trails. Austin’s largest downtown park, Zilker Park, (see below) is adjacent to the lake, and Barton Springs, (see below) a major attraction for swimmers, flows into the lake. 

The Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge spans the Lady Bird Lake and is home to North America’s largest urban colony of Mexican Free-tailed Bats, with a summer population of 1.5 million bats. At dusk, from March to September, Austinites and tourists line the bridge and lake shore to watch the dramatic sight of the bats streaming out in their nightly quest for insects. Eight other bridges span the lake, including two pedestrian-only bridges.

The City of Austin prohibits operation of most motorized watercraft on Lady Bird Lake. As a result, the lake serves as a popular recreational area for kayaks, canoes, dragon boats, and rowing shells. 

Music venues on the banks of Lady Bird Lake are home to a number of events year-round, including the Austin City Limits Music Festival in the fall, the Austin Reggae Festival and Spamarama in the spring, and many open-air concerts at Auditorium Shores on the south bank and Fiesta Gardens on the north bank.

Lake Travis… This Lower Colorado River Authority is one of the highland lakes,  Boat ramps, marinas, parks, and resorts offer boating, fishing, swimming, picnicking and camping.  Located west of Austin.

Lake Walter E. Long… This City of Austin impoundment is primarily a fishing lake.  Park offers a boat rams and picnicking.  east of Austin at FM 969 and FM 973.


Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center … Founded by Lady Bird Johnson in 1982, this site includes display gardens and trails  The center is committed to the conservation and re-establishment of native plants in planned landscapes. Visitor center has museum quality exhibits.  Located at 4801 La Crosse Ave.  Admission Charge.

Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve… A picturesque spot which includes a 45 foot waterfall  Other activities include picking, nature study, and guided nature study.  Located at 24300 Hamilton Pool Road  Admission charge.

Wild Basin Preserve… Scenic Hill Country Wilderness is wt of the city.  This 220 acre preserve is home to two endangered bird species; the golden cheeked warbler and the black capped vireo  It offers four miles of hiking trails and a special trail for the mobility impaired.  Guided tours are available.  Located at 805 N.Capital of Texas of Highway.


McKinney Falls State Park… This park is designated as a historic site on the El Camino Real de los National Historic Trail.  It offers mountain biking, hiking, fishing and camping.  Swimming is allowed in the pools beneath the falls. Located on McKinney Falls Parkway south of the city.  Admission Charge.

Mount Bonnell… This site rising 780 feet above seal level, features a natural limestone formation at the western edge of the city.  It overlooks Lake Austin and provides breathtaking views of the Austin skyline.  Located at 3800 Mount Bonnell Road.

Zilker Park…This park includes the popular spring fed Barton Springs swimming pool which is ope year round  Other activities:

  • Splash!Into the Edward Aquifer is a hands on exhibit for kids adults that explains how the aquifer is recharged and how the creeks and rivers in the Austin area are monitored for pollution.
  • Zilker Botanical Gardens is a showcase of flowers, shrubs and trees, it includes a Japanese Garden, Rose Garden and the Hartman Prehistoric Garden.

Next time you are visiting the area be sure to Stop and Visit the Austin lakes, preserves and parks!


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Texas Events

Prairies and Lakes March Events

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Prairie and Lakes Events Arlington March 31…Maverick Speaker Series: Jane Goodall…College Park Center at UT Arlington Belton Through March 12… Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race… March 12…Bell County Museum Great Garage Sale… March 12-18…Spring Break at the Bell County Museum… March 19…Discover Day with Charley Chisholm… March 19-20… Sami Show Marketplace…Bell County Expo Center […]

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