The best way to keep cool is getting out on the water.
Don your swimsuits, grab some floats and towels, pack a picnic lunch and head out for a day at the lake.
North Texans are in the midst of a summer like never before, thanks to the pandemic. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the heat.
With the right precautions, Dallas-Fort Worth lakes provide a fairly low-risk option for outdoor fun — and a guaranteed cooldown.
To stay safe at area lakes, we suggest sticking with members of your household, avoiding particularly crowded areas, practicing social distancing and wearing a mask when possible.
So check out our list of the best bodies of water around D-FW. For maps, access and camping details, visit the website for each lake. Also, always check water levels before planning a lake visit. Occasionally attractions close due to heavy rainfall or other natural events. Additionally, if you’re planning to visit a state or county park facility at a lake, call ahead to make sure reservations aren’t required in advance due to limited capacity and social distancing guidelines.
Once a creek where buffalo roamed, the area today includes a 1,015-acre lake, 9-mile hike-and-bike trail, bird-watching area and wetlands site. Visitors can fish, take their four-legged friends to the dog park, or rent a kayak or paddleboard from White Rock Paddle Co. Picnic areas, piers and boat ramps allow visitors to hang out, get out on the water and enjoy the urban oasis. Keep in mind that Dallas Park and Recreation facility rentals and area bicycle rentals have been temporarily halted due to coronavirus safety precautions.
Nearby, the Dallas Arboretum offers spectacular views of the lake and photo ops galore. Due to safety precautions, arboretum guests must reserve tickets for a specific date and time slot ahead of their visit.
If you’re up for a spooky outing, Haunted Rooms America is heading to White Rock Lake to investigate the infamous Lady of the Lake, as well as nearby Flag Pole Hill. The next ghost hunt is scheduled for 8 p.m. to midnight on Sept. 19.
One of the largest in North Texas, this 29,592-acre lake includes 233 miles of shoreline and borders multiple cities — Hickory Creek, Highland Village, Lake Dallas and The Colony, to name a few. Around the expansive lake are beaches, campgrounds, golf courses, hike-and-bike trails and parks. The area is bustling with activities thanks to Little Elm Park’s sand beach and volleyball court, plus weekly paddleboard classes and rentals offered by DFW Surf. Note that the city of Lewisville’s Parks and Recreation Department facility rentals have been halted through Sept. 30. Camping reservations should be made in advance.
Visitors can also enjoy the Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area, a lush, 2,000-acre wildlife management area featuring bottomland forests, prairies and wetlands. There are hiking trails, as well as opportunities for bird-watching, camping, canoeing, fishing and kayaking. Due to dam construction, some areas and parking lots are temporarily inaccessible.
North of Forney, this 22,745-acre lake straddles Dallas, Kaufman, Collin and Rockwall counties. There is no camping at the lake, but visitors can spend the day boating and fishing, as well as enjoying the beaches, hike-and-bike trails and parks.
One fun option is taking a cruise on the lake. Sail With Scott offers daytime, sunset and moonlight catamaran cruises, currently capped at 24 guests, or 50% capacity, with all passengers required to wear masks. Harbor Lights offers sunset, starlight, fireworks and family cruises, currently capped at 62 seats, or 45% capacity, with all passengers required to wear masks as well.
For those looking for a day trip, this 29,350-acre reservoir north of Denton is about an hour’s drive from Dallas. Running from the Ray Roberts dam to Lewisville Lake, the 20-mile Greenbelt Corridor features 10 miles of hike-and-bike trails, as well as 12 miles of horseback-riding trails.
Within Ray Roberts Lake State Park, there are two main camping and recreation areas, Isle Du Bois and Johnson Branch, with hundreds of campsites to choose from. Due to coronavirus safety precautions, day passes and campsite use are limited and online reservations are highly recommended. Visitors to the lake can also rent kayaks and pontoon boats from the Ray Roberts Marina and Lone Star Lodge Marina.
The 7,200-acre lake with 60 miles of shoreline features WhoaZone, a floating water park with slides, trampolines and obstacle courses open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for family fun. With more than 40 miles of trails and opportunities to hike, bike, boat, camp and fish, visitors can plan day or weekend getaways. Additionally, DFW Surf offers rentals and weekly paddleboard classes. Camping reservations should be made in advance.
Charter boats offer another opportunity to get out on the water with Island Bound Adventures at Scott’s Landing Marina, as well as Black Watch Sailing, which sails the largest wooden-mast boat on the lake, and Sam’s Dock at Silver Lake Marina. Due to coronavirus safety concerns, capacity is limited on the rentals and party boats at Sam’s Dock, and passengers are required to wear masks.
This 7,500-acre lake borders Cedar Hill State Park, Lynn Creek Park and Loyd Park, among others. Visitors can boat, camp, fish, kayak and swim. A popular attraction at Cedar Hill State Park, in addition to picnic areas, campsites and boat ramps, is the Penn Farm Agricultural History Center. Loyd Park is big on camping with 221 campsites but also has eight cabins and an 18-room lodge for those who prefer sleeping indoors. Additionally, canoes and kayaks for the paddling trail are available for rent. And Lynn Creek Park has 100-plus picnic shelters, a swimming beach and the Lynn Creek Marina, which offers boat rentals and sunset cruises.
Per Grand Prairie Parks and Recreation rules, pavilion use is allowed for gatherings of no more than 10 people at a time, first-come, first-served. Visitors must wear a face covering when interacting with staff, and social distancing is strongly recommended. Basketball and volleyball courts, as well as athletic fields remain closed. Right now, day passes and campsite use at the state park are limited, and online reservations are highly recommended.
On the west side of Fort Worth, Burger’s Lake is a 30-acre park featuring a 1-acre freshwater spring-fed swimming lake with two sandy beaches, over 300 picnic tables, charcoal grills, six diving boards, a 20-foot slide and 25-foot trapeze. Admission is $15 per person.
Visitors over age 10 are required to wear a mask except when consuming food and drink. The park’s safety policy says individuals should maintain social distancing whenever possible.
This 21,400-acre lake near Wylie with 121 miles of shoreline is noted for its blue catfish, sunfish and crappie fishing. Boating, camping, hike-and-bike trails and swimming are among other fun things to do.
Lavon Lake features 19 boat ramps, five beaches, over 200 camping sites, six areas for large group picnics and a park that’s accessible for those with disabilities plus 16 other lakeside parks. Marinas are in Collin Park, which also features a campground, and East Fork Park, which offers equestrian sites and horseback riding trails. Also nearby is Trinity Trail, a 9-mile equestrian and hiking trail.
Compiled by Linda Kessler, from staff reports.