So you’re thinking about a trip to the lake. Maybe you’re looking for a spot to camp or maybe you want to rent a boat. Maybe you’re a “lake person,” maybe not. Maybe you just need a break from the craziness of the life you live. Whatever the reason is that brought you to the ah-ha moment when you said to yourself, “Let’s go to the lake this weekend,” you need information to get the ball rolling.
So here are the absolute most important things you have to know about Lake Whitney BEFORE you make your travel plan:
- Lake Whitney is a flood control lake, originally built in the 50’s to keep Waco from flooding. It’s really good at that, but it’s also one of the least crowded lakes you will find in Texas that lies within 100 miles of a major metropolitan area. There are lakes with smaller crowds, but those tend to fall into 2 categories: either they have more mud than water, or are two+ hours from civilized society. The lake at normal level is over 100 feet deep, plus it has a 40′ flood pool. Without getting all hydro-technical, what that means is that the water level on Lake Whitney rises and falls pretty dramatically, so nothing sits at the edge of the lake. Don’t picture cabins sitting at the water’s edge here. What Lake Whitney lacks in edgewater property, it more than makes up for in scenic beauty and wildlife habitat in that zone where the water is allowed to rise and fall.
- Lake Whitney has 9 resort lodging facilities and 1 B&B on the lake. Eight of the resorts are “Mom & Pop” type operations; one is a golf development. These resorts are ideal for either weekend or vacation stays at the lake. They all offer direct access to the lake, services like boat rentals, supplies, and ice. Most have swimming pools and other on-site attractions to keep you entertained without even leaving the property. There are no chain hotels within 18 miles of the lake. There are a handful of lodging choices near (not on) the lake, and an assortment of privately owned houses that are rented out. They may or may not have lake access. The private homes are unregulated by either county government. (The fact that the lake lies along the boundary between Hill and Bosque Counties is a bonus tidbit that you may not have known.)
- Lake Whitney has 1 state park and 13 parks operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The interesting thing here is that even the Lake Whitney State Park sits on Corps land that the state leases. These parks are scattered along the entire length of the lake. The parks offer everything from hiking trails to campsites to areas for picnicking and swimming. There are a few primitive “screen shelters” in some parks, but no cabins or lodging with plumbing or air conditioning.
- There are 3 official marinas. These are located on land leased from the Corps of Engineers. They offer long-term boat slips; occasionally you can find availability of slips that can be rented by the night. All three offer fuel, but not 24/7 twelve months out of the year, so plan accordingly. Two of the marinas are counted among the resort lodging facilities. All three offer camping. All three marinas have supplies; none have restaurants. Now here is where things get really interesting. In addition to the marinas, five of the resort facilities have docks where you can rent overnight boat slips. A few of these even have fuel, but only for their own guests. These are not officially considered to be marinas by the Corps of Engineers.
- There are 2 full service grocery stores in the town of Whitney. What that means is that you don’t have to load up half a dozen ice chests and haul your food with you.
- Lake Whitney is not currently a source of drinking water for any municipality. It actually could be, but it’s a bit salty and nobody has yet to come up with a good enough plan to desalinate it and transport it to their community. YEAH! Why you care about this is that we get to keep more water in the lake. Unlike drinking water lakes that often struggle to keep enough water for recreation, Whitney has one less thing to worry about. That does not mean that our water doesn’t get sold by the Brazos River Authority for other purposes, but at least there aren’t yet cities fighting to drain our lake .
- Lake Whitney is officially designated as the Getaway Capital of the state because it’s central location and all of the previous six things make it the perfect place for your getaway. So what are you waiting for?