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A welcoming oasis of water in the often dry Texas Prairies and Lakes Region, Lake Whitney draws visitors from some of the largest cities in Texas. About 65 miles south of Forth Worth and 30 miles north of Waco, the 23,500-acre reservoir is surrounded by parks and public access sites to greet locals and visitors alike. The Whitney Lake Dam was completed across the Brazos River in 1951 as a flood control project, with an eye toward providing recreation, water storage and future hydropower. Towering limestone bluffs soaring above the clear blue waters make Lake Whitney one of the most scenic lakes in Texas. In keeping with the desire to make the newly-created lake accessible to all, over a dozen parks were constructed along its 225 miles of shoreline. The largest, 955-acre Lake Whitney State Park, offers camping, nature trails, picnic facilities, bird-watching opportunities, cycling and horseback riding trails. The lake gets over two million visitors every year.
Lake Whitney is an all-sports lake, where lakelubbers can engage in swimming, power boating, jet-skiing, water-skiing, pontooning, canoeing, kayaking, tubing, sailing and nearly any other water activity they can think of. Several marinas along the shore are handy for dock space, dry storage, fuel, supplies, bait and rentals of nearly all types of watercraft. Two designated swimming beaches provide access to those interested primarily in cooling off in the water. Other parks offer boat ramps, picnic grounds, camping and fossil hunting - a favorite with children. Note that 'finds' cannot be removed from the shoreline, as the Army Corps of Engineers owns the entire shore up to an elevation of 741 ft above sea level.
Lake Whitney is considered one of Texas' best fishing lakes. The irregular bottom and shoreline provide ample spawning and feeding grounds for a variety of fish. Tournament fishing occurs regularly at the reservoir, and a number of guide services offer their expert knowledge of the lake to visiting fishermen. Some of the more important prey of anglers are largemouth bass, white crappie, spotted bass, black crappie, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, white bass (sand bass), flathead catfish, striped bass hybrids, and giant blue catfish. Some of the blue cats pulled from these waters have been record-breakers! During hunting season, some of the parks are available to licensed hunters hoping to bag deer, turkey, dove, quail or duck.
Those who enjoy nature viewing have a chance to see over 50 different species of mammals and 300 bird species, including pelicans and bald eagles. An ideal family vacation choice, Lake Whitney has three 18-hole golf courses within a short distance of the water. Playgrounds and nature activities will keep the kids happy, and parents can golf to their hearts' content. One unique activity at Lake Whitney State Park are 'star parties', where interested visitors can join local astronomers to view the night sky with expert guidance and interpretation. Telescopes are provided. For city-dwellers, the lack of light pollution reveals why the beloved song states the "stars at night" really are "big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas!" The Lake Whitney Arts group produces musicals, children's plays, art exhibits and offers dance, craft and drama lessons. The small town of Whitney provides all of the restaurants and fast food service visitors could desire - they don't even have to pack a picnic lunch! The marinas also have dining facilities and snack foods available.
An excellent choice for a summer vacation, the area around Lake Whitney is filled with attractions and points of interest that will please adults and children alike. For time spent off the water, nearby Hillsboro holds the Texas Heritage Museum at Hill College. Shopping opportunities galore exist at an outlet mall in Hillsboro. About 30 miles from Lake Whitney, Glen Rose has a number of attractions, including Dinosaur Valley State Park which holds some of the best-preserved dinosaur tracks in the world. Because the tracks are located in the riverbed, it is best to call ahead for river conditions before making a special trip. Two large fiberglass dinosaur figures are also on display which will fill the kids with awe. The Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, also near Glen Rose, is a wildlife rescue and breeding station for endangered species. Here, visitors can board tour vans for a ride through the grounds to view non-native species such as wildebeest and cheetah.
Heading southeast from Lake Whitney, the City of Waco offers a variety of arts venues, galleries, fine dining, music, theater and evening entertainment. A college town, Waco also holds the Waco Mammoth Site, with an ongoing covered excavation of a large group of prehistoric animal fossil remains, the Cameron Park Zoo, Dr. Pepper Museum, Texas Sports Hall of Fame, Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, a number of restored historical homes, and several other small museums.
The Lake Whitney shoreline holds a number of seasonal cottages, year-round homes and resorts. Although property owners do not own the shoreline itself, they are allowed the use of it for access in many cases, depending on location. Many of the lakefront developments have a public dock area with boat access to owners and renters. Lodgings at Lake Whitney are numerous and include cabins, rental cottages, campgrounds, full service resorts, luxury bed & breakfasts, hotels and larger facilities for reunions and corporate retreats. Real estate is still available - both existing homes and cottages and new construction. So pack up the kids, the swim gear, fishing rods and sunscreen. Come to where the stars really ARE big and bright! Come to Lake Whitney . . you'll want to stay for a lifetime.
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