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Lake Buchanan, the oldest, northernmost and second-largest of the Highland Lakes is known as "Big Buc" to the locals and anglers who regularly visit the area. It is located 60 miles northwest of Austin in the Texas Hill Country, and was formed by the construction of Buchanan Dam by the Lower Colorado River Authority to provide hydroelectric power and supply water to the area. Completed in 1937, with a length of just over two miles, Buchanan Dam was considered one of the longest multiple arch dams in the U.S.
Visitors enjoy scenic drives and cruises around Lake Buchanan. The eastern shore is rugged and hilly with granite cliffs, deep water, waterfalls and cactus, while the western shore has nice beaches (granite pebbles) for swimming, fishing, water skiing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, and picnicking. Lake Buchanan is a level-controlled reservoir, and will not be allowed to flood during periods of heavy rain. The lake level can, however, drop significantly during periods of drought. In 1996 it dropped 20 feet.
Lake Buchanan is noted for its excellent striped bass and white bass fishing. It also contains largemouth bass and Guadalupe bass populations. Striped bass do not naturally reproduce in the reservoir, and are stocked by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department along with largemouth bass, catfish, and white bass. 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. Lake Buchanan offers a variety of cover and structure. The area near the dam and the east side of the lake up to the Silver Creek area is rocky. This area has numerous rock piles, ledges, and chunk rock banks consistent with a highland-type lake. The west side from mid-lake up looks more like a flatland type reservoir with numerous flat coves that have a lot of flooded brush to fish when the lake is up. Water color in the reservoir ranges from clear at the dam and gradually becomes more turbid as you move up the lake.
There is plenty of lodging for tourists around the waterfront of Lake Buchanan. Much of the property bordering Lake Buchanan is privately owned, so there are numerous lakeside resorts, cottages and homes available to rent. Most lodges provide waterfront cabins with kitchens, boat launches, swimming areas and docks for fishing. Public and privately owned RV parks and tent camping areas are also plentiful. There are several communities with a large percentage of retired residents along the west side of the lake. Retirees are attracted to Lake Buchanan by the climate, boating, fishing, year round golf, the quiet lifestyle, and simply because there are so many retirement communities here.
The Lower Colorado River Authority maintains three parks on the Lake Buchanan: Cedar Point Recreation Area, Black Rock Park, and Canyon of the Eagles. Canyon of the Eagles is the ultimate in an outdoor experience and cannot be missed. It is a place designed for enjoying nature. Most of the 940 acres of Canyon of the Eagles Park have been set aside as a nature preserve for wildlife, such as Bald Eagles, Black-capped Vireo, and Golden-cheeked Warbler. Established by the Lower Colorado River Authority, Canyon of the Eagles has helped the LCRA to create an eco-friendly lodge on the shores of Lake Buchanan. The Lodge includes a restaurant with a spectacular view of the lake, 14 miles of hiking trails, and porches for rocking and looking at the birds. During the winter months you can see American bald eagles soaring outside the windows while they are south for the winter. On the northern edge of the park, Canyon of the Eagles houses the Eagle Eye Observatory, operated by the Austin Astronomical Society (AAS) where you can view the stars from the observatory.
For more natural wonders consider a trip to nearby Longhorn Cavern State Park. There you will be awed by Longhorn Cavern. The cave was first formed thousands of years ago when the ground levels of water began to drop. As this downward movement occurred, the water began to dissolve the limestone. This downward drainage continued until great underground stream beds were cut out of solid rock. It is this unusual combination of dissolving and cutting by water that makes Longhorn Cavern one of the most unique caves of the world. Fossil remains show that many Ice Age animals once occupied the cave
Every season at Lake Buchanan offers its own spectacular sights and activities. November through March is a wonderful time to see one of the largest colonies of American Bald Eagles that migrate to the state. April through June the area turns into a wildflower delight with endless flowers covering the fields. The Bluebonnet flowers are a favorite. The Indian Paintbrush flowers are also breathtaking during April of each year. Also each April, the annual Lake Buchanan Regatta and Dam Jam is held at Cedar Lodge. Dozens of boats participate in the regatta, and artists come to Lake Buchanan from all over to perform.
The beauty of Lake Buchanan and the Texas Hill County is sure to please all who visit. Relax on a beach. Hit the links at a local golf course. Rent a boat or wave runner to cruise the lake. Fish until you catch the 'big one.' Take a cave tour at Longhorn Cavern State Park, or visit Fall Creek Vineyard to sample their wine. Pack your bags and start planning your Lake Buchanan vacation.
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