Ready for that next adventure to an outdoor space to create new memories, sweat out the week's stress and laugh until your stomach aches?
Pack the sunscreen and extra water bottles and visit one of the Brazos River Authority's public use areas at any of its three reservoirs. Many only think of lakes as a place to participate in activities on the water. Open your imagination to a variety of hobbies to enjoy, whether you're on the water, in the water, or sitting next to the water. Watch the sunset glisten across the water, pack a picnic with your friends, bring a tent and sleep under the stars, or take a long stroll along the shoreline
July is National Parks and Recreation Month, so in case you need another excuse for a road trip, here's a few.
Our US National Parks are great! In fact, so many people are heading to national parks that they have become overcrowded, forcing some to close their gates due to having reached maximum amounts of visitors. Others are so crowded that visitors spend more time waiting in cars to access the outdoors than actually in the outdoors, particularly in Southeast Utah, which is among the most popular tourist destinations in the US. Utah is home to two national parks and millions of undeveloped acres, according to a June 2021 article in the Wall Street Journal. The boom in visits to national and state parks is largely attributed to a widespread desire to leave home as the pandemic eases, according to the article.
Instead, consider checking out Possum Kingdom Lake, Lake Granbury or Lake Limestone as a place to gather with friends and family, celebrate life's special moments, or just get away from the daily grind.
Texas, after all, ranked No. 8 overall on the list of most fun states in America.
Take advantage of these scorching hot temperatures by remembering the many benefits of spending more time outdoors.
It's true what they say. Exposing your skin to sunshine — actually, ultraviolet B (UVB) rays — enables the body to make vitamin D. Research suggests that vitamin D may have protective effects against everything from osteoporosis to cancer to depression to heart attacks and stroke to Harvard Health Publishing. Light has the ability to elevate people's moods, and that Texas sun will provide you with plenty. And according to Harvard Health Publishing, being outside can actually help people physically heal faster and improve concentration.
And according to this Business Insider article, people need to spend time in natural environments if they want to improve their physical and mental health. There is something about being outside that just changes the physical expression of stress in the body.
So, enjoy the outdoors at a park near you, or check out one (or all) of these gems.
Possum Kingdom Lake
Located on the main stem of the Brazos River northwest of Fort Worth, there's a little something for everyone to enjoy at Possum Kingdom Lake.
There are, of course, a multitude of water sport activities and fishing opportunities available on the water supply reservoir. But there are some other gems as well, said Randall McCartney, Possum Kingdom Lake reservoir manager.
Located in Young, Palo Pinto, Stephens, and Jack counties, Possum Kingdom Lake has 19 lookouts to enjoy the sights and get that Instagram-worthy photograph. McCartney said there are also 10 public use areas. These beautiful lakeside parks offer guests access to the reservoir via seven boat ramps and courtesy docks. If picnics by the water are more your style, there are 112 picnic shelters amongst the public use areas to enjoy and playgrounds for the children. And if you enjoy spending the night beneath the stars, six of Possum Kingdom Lake's public use areas include camping spots.
Be sure to check out the iconic Hell's Gate, defined by two huge cliffs that stand as gates to the entry of a cove on the south end of the reservoir.
Ready to fit in some extra steps? Possum Kingdom Lake has 16 miles of hike and bike trails crisscrossing the lake's central peninsula, connecting the public use areas. Twelve trailheads are located at intervals allowing hikers to enjoy as much or as little of the trail system as they please. There are also parking and restroom areas available throughout the system.
Adjacent to the reservoir is Possum Kingdom State Park, owned and operated by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. Possum Kingdom Lake lies between three thriving small towns: Graham, Mineral Wells and Breckenridge.
With 121 miles of shoreline, Lake Granbury combines beauty and accessibility without having to travel outside the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
The Brazos River Authority has established five public use areas scattered across Lake Granbury's shorelines. And the city of Granbury offers City Beach along the reservoir's shores.
Reservoir Manager Connie Tucker said the fishing piers and boat ramps are popular among visitors. There is lots of space at the parks for friends and family to gather, she said.
The parks have years of stories embedded in their foundation of couples who said, "I do," beneath the trees, and families whose tears watered the ground as they whispered their goodbyes to a loved one at a memorial, and everything in-between.
The BRA's parks include boat launch ramps so you can grab your poles and take advantage of a great place to catch striped bass, largemouth bass or sunfish, among others. The parks also include fishing piers, restrooms, parking and picnic tables. Enjoy any of the camping opportunities at four of the parks, which are all free to use.
No grill? No problem. You bring the meat, and we've provided grills so you can showcase your latest barbecue creation while the sun glistens off the water. Need a place to momentarily forget triple-digit temperatures? Designated swimming areas allow for a safe and perfect spot to stretch your sea legs.
While visiting the parks, keep your eye out for some of the parks' other popular guests, including deer, geese and ducks.
Lake Ranger Sergeant John Riley said the parks offer the only public camping opportunities for the area. And the parks are dog-friendly; they just need to be kept on a leash. Events are regularly hosted at the parks allowing organizations a place to connect with the community.
A vibrant community with a nearby downtown, the city of Granbury was named after Brigadier General Hiram B. Granbury, Commander of the 7th Texas Infantry and Granbury's Brigade. Granbury was named USA Today's Best Historic Small Town in America in 2019 and 2020.
Lake Limestone, located on the upper Navasota River in Limestone, Robertson and Leon counties, is popular amongst those who like to fish. Formed by the construction of Sterling C. Robertson Dam, when full, the lake reaches an elevation of 363 feet mean sea level and covers a surface area of 12,553 acres. The reservoir holds back 208,017 acre-feet or 73.5 billion gallons of water.
The water supply reservoir's flooded timber and abundance of aquatic vegetation offer cover for largemouth and white bass as well as crappie and catfish. Here visitors can enjoy any of the four parks available around the lake.
The parks offer primitive camping, picnic facilities and four boat ramps for lake access. These free public use areas are open year-round, and no reservations are needed.
All three reservoirs are owned and operated by the BRA., which means that the regulations are the same across the three lakes. So, remember:
• All BRA public use areas require no reservations and are first-come, first-served.
• Dogs are welcome but remember to keep them on a leash and pick up any waste.
• If you bring it in, take it out.
• These are water supply reservoirs, and the lake level will fluctuate with supply use and weather conditions.
• Watch your wake. Watercraft operators are responsible for their wake.
• Leave the glass at home. Bring your drinks in something else.
• No diving or jumping into the lake from a height of 20 feet or more.
• Pay attention to burn bans within the county of the reservoir you're visiting.
• And don't forget if you're bringing a watercraft to Clean, Drain, and Dry to help stop the spread of invasives.
Learn more at brazos.org.