Lake Waco Information

Lake Waco lies in McLennan County two miles west of Waco, Texas. It covers 8,190 acres with 60 miles of shoreline and a maximum depth of 100 feet. The U.S. Government owns Lake Waco and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) operates and maintains it. Lake Waco is in the Texas Hill Country, about an hour and half south of the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex and about an hour and a half north of Austin, Texas. 

Waco, Texas, is a midsized city with a population of almost 14,000. Lake Waco is less than five miles from downtown Waco, Texas. Lake Waco’s southeastern border is highly populated, while its northern and western borders are rural. The Bosque and North Bosque Rivers, tributaries of the Brazos River, feed Lake Waco. The Waco Regional Airport sits right on the northeastern border of Lake Waco with the 2,000-acre Airport Park flanking its shoreline. 

Lake Waco is close to shopping and entertainment centers in Waco, Texas, which offers visitors a lake and city life experience. Lake Waco is a gathering and educational point for the City of Waco. The upper end of Lake Waco houses the Waco Wetlands, an environmental project established in 2001 by Baylor University and the City of Waco to lessen wildlife habitat loss and serves as a living laboratory for research, education, and recreation.

History of Lake Waco

Construction of the first Lake Waco Dam began in 1928 for the purposes of flood control, municipal water supply, conservation, and recreation. The City of Waco owned and operated Lake Waco and covered 2,742 acres. By the mid-1940s, the accumulation of sediments had reduced its capacity to 22,030 acre-feet. The Fort Worth division of the USACE and the Brazos River Authority collaborated to build a new dam in 1958, and completed this new dam by 1965.

The new Lake Waco completely submerged the previous lake and originally covered 9,440 acres. This project forced landowners to move or abandon their homes or businesses, and the enlargement of Lake Waco destroyed entire towns like the Speegleville community, a small farming town west of Waco. However, long before settlement of this region of Texas at Lake Waco, prehistoric indigenous people inhabited these fertile lands as hunters and gatherers. 

Members of the Central Texas Archeological Society surveyed the general vicinity before Lake Waco was built, but there were no professional archeological excavations undertaken in the 1930s. When the new Lake Waco dam came into fruition in the late 1950s, archeological sites were professionally evaluated. 

Radiocarbon data indicated that these archeological deposits and artifacts span the Middle Archaic through Late Prehistoric periods. The excavations conducted during the new Lake Waco project identified prehistoric components on a stretch of the Bosque River. In the 1950s, a survey identified 23 sites, of which most appeared to have Archaic elements.

These latter excavations produced modified mussel shells, bone artifacts, and unmodified faunal (animal) remains. The archeologists recorded ash lenses, hearths, mussel shell concentrations, and a possible multiple dog burial. Four radiocarbon assays yielded ages ranging from 1865 and dating back to 2330 B.C., which confirmed human inhabitation during the Late Archaic period.

The archeologists of the 1950s found traces that are a handful of stone flakes left by a prehistoric toolmaker, a thick scatter of clamshells, deer bone, and remnants from family meals. Evidence from earlier and later times were uncovered, but the majority of the evidence related to the Late Archaic period dating from about  2000 B.C. to A.D. 750. 

These remains of ancient peoples continue to be studied today at many archeological sites around and near Lake Waco. Three archeological sites found at Lake Waco were utilized as campsites where activities like tool manufacturing and food preparation took place. The availability of natural resources from the dependable waters of the Bosque River allowed hunter-gatherer families to return repeatedly to these campsites. 

These prehistoric peoples moved their campsites often to follow and hunt animals and to harvest plants. Historic records document the presence of elk, bison, pronghorn antelope, black bear, wolf, mountain lion, jaguar, and ocelot. From October 2000 to February 2001, Prewitt and Associates, Inc., conducted National Register of Historic Places eligibility testing of nine sites located at Waco Lake in McLennan County, Texas.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District, sponsored the project as a result of the proposed plan to raise the conservation pool level of the lake by seven feet. Baylor University and the Waco Mammoth National Monument, which is a paleontological site and museum in Waco, Texas, house the best documentation of these sites, of which six were eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

Lake Waco Fishing

The predominant game fish species in Lake Waco are largemouth, hybrid striped, palmetto, and white bass, bluegill, blue, channel, and flathead catfish, and sunfish. Other species include smallmouth bass and spotted bass, black and white crappie, and longnose and spotted gar. Lake Waco has a limited amount of aquatic vegetation. The primary cover for fish and bait fish are points, humps, the two islands, creek channels, ledges, and old roadbeds.

Largemouth bass fishing is at its finest in March and April, along with hybrid striped bass and palmetto bass. White crappie predominates in Lake Waco, but black crappie are occasionally caught. From late February through April, crappie move into water less than two feet deep. Channel cat fishing is best in the spring and early summer. White bass fishing is best from February through April. Sunfish are prevalent in late spring. 

Boat ramps are public and private, and there are ten of them located mainly on the southern and northern arms of Lake Waco. The USACE charges a $4 fee for boat ramps, and there is a $30 annual pass available. Two marinas call Lake Waco their home. The USACE has boat ramps in four parks. Typically, there are four to five fishing guides operating on Lake Waco. 

Find experienced local guides on our Lake Waco Fishing Guides page. 

Boating on Lake Waco

Rolling hills and flat lands typical of the northern part of the Texas Hill Country surround Lake Waco. During peak season, boats of all types cover Lake Waco with sunbathers crowding its beaches. Pontoons, sailboats, canoes and kayaks, fishing boats, personal watercraft, and motorboats are popular on Lake Waco. 

Boaters will see more nature on the northern and western shores of Lake Waco than on its eastern shores, which is developed. There are numerous coves that provide private swimming areas, plus there are two swim beaches within its 60 miles of shoreline.

There are two marinas and ten boat ramps dotted around Lake Waco that will happily supply your marine needs, whether it is fuel, ice, snacks, or marine necessities. Several boat rental services rent canoes, kayaks, pontoons, motorboats, or personal watercraft on Lake Waco. 

Find or sell a boat on our Lake Waco Boats for Sale page. 

Lake Waco Real Estate

The Lake Waco real estate market is a limited inventory market for lake homes and lake lots in Texas. Typically, ten lake homes are up for sale on Lake Waco at any given time, with ten lake lots and land for sale. Most of the lake homes on Lake Waco are on its eastern and southern borders because Lake Waco is only two miles west of downtown Waco, Texas. The average list price for a Lake Waco home is $924,000, but there are lower-priced options available. 

The public school districts serving Lake Waco are Waco ISD in Waco, Texas and Bosqueville ISD, along with many schools from K-12 offering private education. Waco, Texas, offers the nightlife, restaurants, and shopping centers just a few miles away from the eastern border of Lake Waco. The closest metroplexes are DFW/Ft. Worth and Austin. Lake Waco offers natural surroundings and city life all at the same time. 

To find your dream lake home, explore our Lake Waco Homes for Sale page. 

Lake Waco Cabins and Vacation Homes

Few options exist on Lake Waco for cabin rentals and vacation homes. Most of these rentals are in Waco, Texas, or on other sections of the Bosque River, which are not nearby Lake Waco. 

Find the perfect vacation home on our Lake Waco Cabins page. 

Camping at Lake Waco

The four parks maintained by the USACE at Lake Waco are Airport Park, Midway Park, Reynolds Creek Park, and Speegleville Park. These parks offer facilities for camping and picnics and contain several boat ramps and two marinas. The USACE parks provide areas for water sports, hunting, fishing, boating, and hiking. 

Airport Park is on the northern banks of Waco Lake and open year round. Airport Park has 46 sites with 50-amp electric and water hookups, and 22 of these have sewer hookups. There are eight screened shelters with electrical outlets and water. Fourteen tent-only campsites without electricity are available. 

A group camping shelter is available with reservation at Airport Park. It comes with electric, sewer and water hookups and is equipped with a six-foot grill, a 12-foot serving bar, and a pavilion with picnic tables. There are eight campsites with electric and water hookups, and six of these have sewer hookups. The group camping area can accommodate 80 guests.

Midway Park has 37 campsites and is open year round from 6:00am to 10:00pm. There are 32 sites with water and electric hookups, plus 11 sites that have sewer hookups. The campground has five tent sites. 

Reynolds Creek has 41 campsites with water and electric hookups, including ten equestrian sites and six primitive tent camping sites. Day-use picnic sites are available on a first come, first serve basis. Equestrian camping is available year-round, and regular camping is available from April 1 to September 30. Its day use and boat ramp are open year-round.

Speegleville Park is open from March to October from 6:00am to 10:00pm. The park includes two screened shelters and 30 campsites with water and electric hookups, along with a four-lane boat ramp.

Check out our list of campgrounds and RV parks for your family adventure on our Lake Waco Camping page. 

Trails at Lake Waco

The National Trails System recognizes the Lacy Point Nature Trail in Reynolds Creek Park. The Lacy Point Nature Trail is a multi-use trail within an 877-acre access area located at 1000 McLaughlin Road and entirely within government fee lands on the west shore of Lake Waco. Its 19 miles of trail features interpretive trail markers, directional maps at junctions, and picnic table access along the shoreline. This takes adventurers through bottomland hardwoods, scrub, and grassland. It is the only public interpretive trail in the Lake Waco region that offers signed access to bank fishing, cyclists,  hikers,  and horseback riders.

Skeet Eason Hike & Bike Trail is a 5.6-mile lightly trafficked out and back trail used for running, road biking, and hiking. The trail surface is paved, smooth, typically at least 8 feet wide, and is navigable for most trail goers using wheelchairs/mobility equipment or strollers. It begins at Airport Park and follows the Lake Waco dam. 

The Bosque River Trail is a forested dirt trail that follows along the Bosque and Brazos Rivers, about two miles east of the northern shores of Lake Waco, with great views and interesting rock formations. This 2-mile trail begins off of Lake Shore Drive in Waco. 

The Cotton Belt Trail is a 2.5-mile trail located atop an old rail line along Highway 84 and crosses the South Bosque River. Trail access points are located off of Harris Creek Road, Old Lorena Road, and Hannah Hill Road off of US Highway 84 just south of the southern tip of Lake Waco. 

Lake Waco Hunting 

It is legal to hunt on the far northern shoreline and on the far southwestern shoreline. The legal game are deer, dove, feral hogs, quail, rabbits, squirrels, turkeys, and waterfowl. A permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is not required to hunt waterfowl on Corps Property. Hunting during deer season at Waco Lake is by US Army Corps of Engineers permit only. Hunters are required to have their Federal Duck Stamp, and applicable licenses and endorsements from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. Hunters must carry required permits with them when hunting on USACE property. 

Things to Do at Lake Waco

There is one restaurant on the water at Lake Waco, The Minnow, and many nearby, plus nightclubs, east of the lake. Lake Waco Golf Club is nestled among the oak trees, on the north side of Lake Waco, featuring a full 18 Hole Regulation Golf Course, and is open to the public. The Bear Ridge Golf Club is a public golf course and sits two and a half miles from Lake Waco’s southernmost tip.

The Cameron Park Zoo has multiple attractions, animals, and exhibits from places like the rain forest and the desert. It is a 52-acre natural habitat along the Brazos River features exhibits like Gibbon Island, a Bald Eagle Habitat, a South American Exhibit, a  Herpetarium, an Asian Forest, and much more. It is located at 1701 North 4th Street, Waco, Texas. 

Visit the Dr. Pepper Museum, which offers tours and field trips and interactive experiences. Make-a-Soda, and choose from a variety of simple and artisan flavors. See historic collections items representing different aspects of the soft drink industry. It is located at 300 South 5th Street, Waco, Texas. 

Check out the Waco Mammoth National Monument, where fossil specimens represent the nation's first and only recorded evidence of a nursery herd of ice age Columbian mammoths. Explore the Dig Shelter, where you will see the in situ fossil remains of six Columbian mammoths and a few other Ice Age animals. It is located at 6220 Steinbeck Bend Drive, Waco, Texas.

Visit Magnolia Market at the base of two historic silos. It is a home décor wonderland featuring accent pieces, wall decorations, rustic kitchenware, candles, and inspiration for the inside and outside of your home, plus a garden center. It is located at 601 Webster Ave, Waco, Texas. 

Catch Some Waves at the BSR Surf Resort where a sandy shore leads you into waters churned by a surf machine that can produce waves comparable to those you might find on Oahu’s North Shore. It is located at 5347 Old Mexia Road, Waco, Texas.

Explore the Waco Downtown Cultural District where you will find art galleries, massive colorful murals, boutique clothing shops, and home furnishings stores, a taste of locally sourced cuisine, and much more. 

Experience Waco’s live music scene, which has one-of-a-kind venues that showcase talented local and traveling performers. Once the host of silent films and vaudeville shows, the Waco Hippodrome Theatre, built in 1914, it is now one of the top places to catch a music show in Waco.

Plan your next trip activities on our What To Do At Lake Waco page.

Lake Waco Weather & Climate

Lake Waco sees an average of 36 inches of rain, no snow, and 228 days of sunshine per year. The winter low in January is 35 degrees with a summer high in July of 95 degrees. April, May, and October are the most comfortable months for this region. Keep an eye on the weather with our Lake Waco Weather Forecast page.

Lake Waco Zip Codes

McLennan County: 76524, 76624, 76630, 76633, 76638, 76640, 76643, 76654, 76655, 76657. 76664. 76682, 76684, 76689, 76691, 76701, 76702, 76703, 76704, 76705, 76706, 76707, 76708, 76710, 76711, 76712, 76714, 76715, 76716, 76795, 76797, 76798, 76799.

Flora and Fauna at Lake Waco

At the Lake Waco Wetlands on the north side of Lake Waco, you can see Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Red-Winged Blackbirds, green tree frogs, American beavers, and white-tailed deer among the cattails and water lilies. Other common wildlife sightings include dove, feral hogs, quail, rabbits, squirrels, turkeys, and waterfowl. Common vegetation surrounding Lake Waco includes post oak, ashe juniper, shin oak, Texas oak, blackjack oak, live oak, cedar elm, agarito, soapberry, sumac, hackberry, Texas prickly pear cactus, and Mexican persimmon.

Lake Waco Email Updates


Lake Waco Current Weather Alerts

There are no active watches, warnings or advisories.


Lake Waco Weather Forecast


Chance Thunderstorms

Hi: 83

Wednesday Night


Lo: 67


Thunderstorms Likely

Hi: 81

Thursday Night

Chance Thunderstorms

Lo: 70


Slight Chance Thunderstorms

Hi: 83

Friday Night

Mostly Cloudy

Lo: 67


Chance Thunderstorms

Hi: 82

Saturday Night

Slight Chance Thunderstorms

Lo: 67

Lake Waco Water Level (last 30 days)

Water Level on 5/1: 464.39 (-35.61)