Vibrant sunset over Canyon Lake, Texas
Jason Squyres/Shutterstock.com
Blog

20 Best Lakes near Dallas

By Pat Dorri | Updated on 8 August 2022

Dallas is loved by Texans and out-of-state tourists alike for its Arts District, bustling music scene, unique cultural events, and much more. But if you're in the area and find yourself hearing the call of the wild, rest assured: we've got you covered with twenty fabulous lake escapes to choose from. You're never far away from a waterside oasis in this part of Texas!

The Dallas area is home to some of the most beautiful lakes and reservoirs in the US, including White Rock Lake, Lake Ray Hubbard, and Lewisville Lake. Most are located within an hour and a half drive of the city, making them perfect day trip spots.

The best lakes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area

The Dallas-Fort Worth area is blessed with a plethora of scenic lakes and reservoirs. But which one should you choose for the ultimate day spent relaxing? Here are a few of the most popular lakes in the region.

We've included much more detail on each of these - plus 15 other beautiful lakes to choose from - in the article below.

Some of the best lakes to visit in the Dallas-Fort Worth area
LakeDistance from DallasDriving Time
White Rock Lake8 miles15 minutes
Lake Ray Hubbard18 miles20 minutes
Lavon Lake45 miles50 minutes
Benbrook Lake50 miles55 minutes
Caddo Lake170 miles2 hour 45 minutes

So keep reading for an overview of each lake's highlights; how to get there from Dallas; and everything you need to know for a great day by the water.

View of downtown Dallas with open green space surrounding it
Dallas is surrounded by amazing green spaces and natural scenery, despite its metropolitan status
aphotostory/Shutterstock.com

If you're looking for longer day trips - or even a road trip out of the city - make sure you take a look at our ultimate list of the best road trips from Dallas. ​​You can also find some ideas for an overnight or weekend lake trip at the end of this article.

Best lakes within 1 hour of Dallas

If you're looking for a quick trip to the lake to cool off, these nearby stops will fit the bill perfectly. You can even be back in time for lunch!

1. White Rock Lake, Texas

15 minutes from Dallas (8 miles)

Lone fisherman at White Rock Lake, Dallas, on a summer afternoon
White Rock Lake is a favorite Dallas spot for boating and relaxing, not far from the city
Bill Huang/Shutterstock.com

Why you should visit: White Rock Dam has been a top leisure and recreation area for Dallas residents and other tourists and historically, the top sport at White Rock Lake has always been rowing. With several annual races happening at the lake (including a White Rock Marathon), an ancient boathouse, multiple boat loading decks, and other facilities, if you're looking for a place to row, look no further.

How to get there: White Rock Lake is located closest to the heart of Dallas, just 15 minutes from the city center. To get to White Rock Lake, you'll simply have to follow Interstate 30 East and exit onto White Rock Road.

Taking up 1,254 acres in east Dallas, this region used to be farmland before the lake was constructed as a source of water for the community. Besides this, the lake is also a hotspot for sailing clubs, with the official White Rock Boat Club formed in the 60s. You'll be amazed at the number of unique birds, mammals, and insects that call this place home.

Bonus: The White Rock Lake Park is the site of one of the most famous Dallas urban legends, the tale of the Lady of White Rock Lake. Believed to be a pale ghost of a young woman, the myth follows the story of a young woman drowning in the lake and returning to earth as a ghost living in and around the lake.

Operating Hours: 7:30am-4:30pm

Note: We have included operating hours for each of the lakes in this article (where relevant), but you might want to call ahead to double-check any daily changes to these.

2. Lake Ray Hubbard, Texas

20 minutes from Dallas (18 miles)

Boat dock at a pier at Lake Ray Hubbard, Dallas area, with reflections shimmering on the water
Relax by the pier and admire the boats at Lake Ray Hubbard
Pierre Rebollar/Shutterstock.com

Why you should visit: Lake Ray Hubbard is a picturesque lake that is an excellent destination for a day trip away from the city's hustle and bustle. The area is also home to many resorts and campgrounds, which you can pick from in case you'd like to spend a night by the lake.

Located less than half an hour from the heart of Dallas, Lake Ray Hubbard is one of the largest lakes in north Texas. Spread across a massive area of 22,000 acres, this lake came to be as a result of the construction of the Rockwall-Forney Dam and gets its water from the East Fork Trinity River.

How to get there: To get to this beautiful lake, you'll follow along Interstate 30 East (which, in fact, extends via a bridge across the width of the lake, along with several other state roads with bridges) until the exit onto Lake Hubbard Parkway.

Some of the noteworthy attractions in the area are the Rockwall Harbor (open from 7am - 10pm), an entertainment center with scenic walkways and live music; Heath Golf and Yacht Club, a perfect 18-hole course with stunning views of the lake and beyond; Sapphire Bay Marina, and more. Neighboring the lake is also the Rowlett Wet Zone, a sprawling water park with plentiful slides, rides, and play areas.

When you're touring Lake Ray Hubbard, it's only wise that you pay a trip to the adjacent San Martino Winery & Vineyards for a tour or tasting!

Excellent for boating, sailing, and fishing (you'll find unique species like the white and hybrid striped bass, blue catfish, white crappie, etc.), Lake Ray Hubbard is a top-notch destination to explore.

3. Joe Pool Lake, Texas

25 minutes from Dallas (20 miles)

Seagull on deep blue Joe Pool Lake, near Dallas Texas
Join the seagulls and take in the serenity of Joe Pool Lake
Kimmy Engen/Shutterstock.com

Why you should visit: Spread across 7,400 acres is Joe Pool Lake, a freshwater impoundment that has slowly become a popular recreation destination for residents and tourists. The region is home to overnight camping, sweeping beaches, boat ramps, a volleyball court, picnic tables, and numerous lakeside restaurants, making it a fantastic way to enjoy the lake's scenery.

Though the lake itself is a sight to see, it is also surrounded by Cedar Hill State Park, spread across nearly 2,000 acres and home to a fishing barge, numerous hiking trails, and a mountain biking trail; Loyd Park has a boat deck, an equestrian-friendly trail, a softball field, and more.

How to get there: Located a short 20-mile drive from Dallas, though the distance can vary depending on where in the city you reside or are vacationing, you'll get to Joe Pool Lake via Interstate 30 West. After, you'll continue onto Belt Line Road along with other local routes to reach your destination.

Named after Joe Pool, a congressman that represented the district in the past, this lake is fed mainly by Walnut Creek and Mountain Creek and ultimately drains into Mountain Creek Lake. Besides Cedar Hill State Park (open from 6am to 10pm) and Loyd Park (open 24 hours), Lynn Creek Park (open 6am to 10pm), situated on the northwest corner of the lake, is a major attraction in the area.

Bonus: If you're looking to turn the adventure up a notch, you can camp in either Loyd or Cedar Hill State Park (in the summer months).

4. Lake Arlington, Texas

30 minutes from Dallas (27 miles)

Sunset on Joe Pool Lake, with water shimmering in the evening light
Set your alarm early and take in a beautiful sunrise at Lake Arlington
Agarcia5720/Shutterstock.com

Why you should visit: If you are searching for a premier destination for fishing, Lake Arlington, located in the Fort Worth area, is the place for you. You can also enjoy exciting water activities such as canoeing (the Lake Arlington Paddling Trail is Dallas-Fort Worth's first of its kind), kayaking, jet skiing, and boating on this lake.

How to get there: A mere 30-minute drive from Dallas via Interstate 30 West, you'll drive by Six Flags Over Texas, Stevens Park Golf Course, Trammell Crow Park, and other local landmarks.

Perfect for all ages, from adventure-seekers to those looking for a relaxing day trip, Lake Arlington is full of different activities, scenic overlooks, and more. For fishing enthusiasts, it is good to know that the lake is home to unique species of catfish, crappie, hybrid stripers, and black bass.

The lake is bordered by numerous parks like Bowman Springs Park (spread across 14 acres, it has boat ramps, a pier, and picnic tables with lake views), Richard Simpsons Park, Eugene McCray Park, and more. You'll also be able to play a game of golf with a picture of the beautiful Lake Arlington Golf Course.

Bonus: After it was completed in 1957, it was referred to as the “Miracle Lake” as it took less than a month to fill up to its maximum capacity instead of the estimated time of two years.

Operating Hours: 10:00am-7:00pm

5. Grapevine Lake, Texas

35 minutes from Dallas (30 miles)

A row of sailboats in the marina at Grapevine Lake, near Dallas
Admire the boats - and maybe take a trip of your own - at Grapevine Lake Marina
Tallmaple/Shutterstock.com

Why you should visit: A hotspot for fishing, boating, hiking, camping, and more, Grapevine Lake is located northwest of Dallas. Taking up 7,280 acres in North Texas, this scenic lake is bordered by several parks and campgrounds.

How to get there: This beautiful park is a 40-minute drive from the city via Texas 114 TEXpress and is a great place to spend the weekend.

Impounded in 1952 as a result of building a dam in Denton Creek, a Trinity River tributary, Grapevine Lake acts as a water reservoir and method of flood control. Besides that, it has, ever since its inception, become a hotspot for recreational activities.

Some notable parks in the area are Rockledge Park (open from 8am to 8:30pm), known for its stunning sunset overlooks over the lake, Trophy Club Park, McPherson Slough Park, Murrell Park, famous for its variety of hiking trails, and more. Other attractions in the area are the Meadowmere Campgrounds, Meadowmere Park Pavilion, Whozone at Grapevine (a floating water amusement park), Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve, etc.

A great place to indulge in adventure activities, camping (both tent or RV options are available) or picnicking with a great view of the water and surrounding mountains, Lake Grapevine is an excellent choice for a day trip from Dallas.

Operating Hours: 10:00am-5:00pm (Lakeview Park)

6. Lewisville Lake, Texas

40 minutes from Dallas (38 miles)

Golden sandy shoreline on the banks of Lewisville Lake, Texas, with a clear blue sky above
Stroll along the golden sandy beach at Lewisville Lake
Trong Nguyen/Shutterstock.com

Why you should visit: Lewisville Lake is a popular destination in summer, especially the three marinas found within the lake and the eateries lined across the shore of the lake. You can enjoy boating or jet skiing at the lake, participate in a fishing tournament, camp in the nearby camping grounds for the ultimate adventurer experience, or spend time at Party Cove, a collection of boats with live music, food, and drinks.

How to get there: Located less than an hour by road, to get to Lewisville Lake, all you need to do is follow Interstate 35 East until you cross the Lewisville Lake Toll Bridge (that takes you over the lake, yielding panoramic views of the picturesque landscape) and you'll be at your destination.

Known previously as the Garza-Little Elm Reservoir or Lake Dallas, this lake is an artificial reservoir in Denton County. Spread across a massive area of 29,592 acres, it was built as a method of flood control and to become a source of water supply and has gradually become a famous tourist destination.

Adjoining the lake are several diverse sceneries like Willow Grove Park (open from 6am to 10pm), Westlake Park, Lake Park Swimming Beach, Wynnwood Park (open from 6:30am to 10pm which has an excellent hiking trail called the Tribute Shoreline Nature Trail), Cottonwood Park, Hidden Cove Park, and more.

Bonus: Lewisville Lake is considered home to the largest lake population of Alligators in all of Texas, so keep that in mind!

Operating Hours: 7:00am-9:00pm (March-September), 7:00am-5:00pm (October-February)

7. Lake Worth, Texas

40 minutes from Dallas (45 miles)

Sunset over Lake Worth, Texas, with silhouette of boats and a jetty in the foreground
Pack your canoes for a trip to beautiful Lake Worth
Vess cooks/Shutterstock.com

Why you should visit: Lake Worth is located on the West Fork of Trinity River and is a hotspot for fishing, canoeing and boating. This is a quaint, nonetheless charming reservoir that is situated only 45 miles from the city of Dallas.

How to get there: The easiest route to follow to get to Lake Worth is primarily the Texas 121 TEXpress, along with some local roads that'll lead you to your end destination.

Swimming in the water at Lake Worth is not recommended, however, you will be able to catch stellar landscape views from any of the several hikes at the bordering parks and relax on your getaway.

In the area, you'll find Lake Worth Beach, Marion Sansom Park, Camp Joy Park (open from 5am - 11:30pm), and Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge (a 3,000-acre wildlife conservation area that is inhabited by alligators, deer, and several bird species), Greer Island, Love Circle Park (open 24 hours), and more.

Located right by Lake Worth is Burger's Lake, a 30-acre park with a spring-fed swimming water body, perfect for lounging or trying your hand at primary water sports.

Bonus: Lake Worth is believed to have been the home of a giant creature, described popularly as part fish, part goat, and part man. It has been referred to as the “Lake Worth Monster.”

8. Lavon Lake, Texas

50 minutes from Dallas (45 miles)

Beach with small trees growing from the water at Lavon Lake near Dallas, Texas
The beautiful beaches at Lavon Lake will take your breath away
Media Vision 4U2C/Shutterstock.com

Why you should visit: Situated less than an hour's drive from the heart of Dallas, Lavon Lake is one of the best lakes on the list simply because of the sheer number of activities to do, including some fantastic opportunities for fishing and boating.

How to get there: To get to Lavon Lake, you'll have to drive on US Route 75 North until you've exited out of Plano and then follow local routes to reach Tickey Creek Park, considered to be the entrance to the lake.

This freshwater reservoir came about due to the impoundment of the East Fork of the Trinity River when Lavon Dam was erected. Notable fish species that are found in the lake are Largemouth Bass, Blue catfish, crappie, and more.

The lake is also surrounded by several parks managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, namely Brockdale Park, Collin Park (8am to 8pm), Lavonia Park (10am to 8:30pm), Twin Groves Park (open 24 hours), Sister Grove Park (6am to 9pm), etc. One of the most incredible features of the lake is Fantasy Island, a park on an island surrounded by water, promising top-notch landscape views, especially in the autumn at dusk!

The lake also has several RV Parks and camping grounds across the region, each with all the basic amenities and excellent views, making it a great place for an overnight getaway as well.

9. Eagle Mountain Lake, Texas

50 minutes from Dallas (50 miles)

Orange glow of sunset over Eagle Mountain Lake, Texas, with a couple of birds on the water
Bask in the warm glow of sunset at Eagle Mountain Lake
Vess cooks/Shutterstock.com

Why you should visit: One of the most popular lakes in the Dallas-Fort Worth region is Eagle Mountain Lake. Besides being a pristine clear lake, it is surrounded by several peaks and hills, making it picture-perfect scenery. To make the most of the region, you can go fishing, skiing, wakeboarding, boating, or hiking on one of the adjacent parks' trails.

How to get there: To get to Eagle Mountain Lake, spread across 8,700 acres an hour from the heart of Dallas, you'll have to drive along several state roads, specifically Texas 121 TEXpress, until you arrive at Boat Club Road, leading you to your destination.

Twin Points Park (open from 10am to 8pm) is the most notable park neighboring the lake, with several picnic tables, paddleboard renting facilities, and well-designed self-guided hikes.

The lake is also famous for its iconic lake homes, so if you'd like to spend the weekend with friends and family, away from the city, book a rental with a big porch, BBQ grill, and most importantly, a lake view, is a must.

Bonus: You can also plan a day with lake activities and have lunch at Sammy's on the lake to recharge before you begin your drive back to the city.

Operating Hours: 10:00am-8:00pm

10. Benbrook Lake, Texas

55 minutes from Dallas (50 miles)

Colourful sunset over Benbrook Lake, Texas, with a rocky shoreline in the foreground
Benbrook Lake is one of our favorites - and we think you can see why!
Dean Fikar/Shutterstock.com

Why you should visit: Situated less than an hour from the heart of the city, Benbrook Lake is impounded by the Benbrook Dam and is an excellent escape from the chaos of the city. Camping, boating, hunting (with the requisite permits), fishing, hiking, and bird watching are just some of the many ways to immerse yourself in the stunning landscape of Benbrook.

How to get there: The best way to get from Dallas to Benbrook Lake is via Interstate 35 East, and if you drive early in the morning, it'll take even less time.

Known for its scenic countryside comprising the region's meadows, valleys, and hills, Benbrook Lake spreads across 3,770 acres and has lots of places to visit and views to admire.

The lake has witnessed a fair share of floods and reconstruction, so there's a chance that some trails may be closed due to repairs.

Several unique parks and campgrounds border the lake, namely the South Holiday Park, Rocky Creek Park, Mustang Park, Bear Creek Campground, North Holiday Park (open from 6am, it is the best place to tour the region and lake), and more. At Pecan Valley Park, you'll also be able to enjoy a scenic game of golf complemented by a lakeside meal at the clubhouse.

Operating Hours: 7:30am-9:00pm (April-September), 24 hours (rest of the year)

Best lakes within 3 hours of Dallas

If you've got time for a full-day excursion (and we highly recommend you make the time) then the lakes listed below are all between one and three hours' drive from Dallas. Perfect for a relaxing day spent on the water!

11. Lake Tawakoni, Texas

1 hour 10 minutes from Dallas (60 miles)

Lake Tawakoni, Texas, with lush trees surrounding and a rocky beach in the foreground
The rugged shoreline at Lake Tawakoni makes for great photo opportunities
Victoria Ditkovsky/Shutterstock.com

Why you should visit: Taking up almost 40,000 acres in Northeastern Texas, nearly 60 miles from Dallas, is Lake Tawakoni. The lake is known for being a top recreational area and also being home to diverse wildlife. To make the most of the region, you can go boating, fishing, swimming, paddling, hiking, or bird-watch in the surrounding parks.

How to get there: Located just an hour by road, to get to Lake Tawakoni, you'll follow along Interstate 30 East and Texas Route 276 East until East Tawakoni, the gateway town to your destination.

This vast reservoir was constructed with the Iron Bridge Dam and has since become an excellent escape for nearby residents from bustling city life to the peace and calm of nature. Bordering the lake is the famous Lake Tawakoni State Park (open 7am to 10pm), home to deer, bobcats, snakes, alligators, and numerous bird species.

Around the lake, you'll also find the Deer Run Golf Club (7am to 7:30pm), Tawakoni Marina, Lake Tawakoni State Park Camping Grounds, Sky Point RV Park, and more. You can camp in one of the camping grounds or RV parks, or even immerse yourself in one of the self-guided trails.

The region attracts the most crowds in the spring or summertime, so plan accordingly if you're looking to go for a more peaceful vacation; fall might be an ideal time to visit.

Fun fact - the state park attracted attention in 2007 for being home to the largest spider web in the world, stretching over 200 yards!

Operating Hours: 7:00am-10:00pm

12. Cedar Creek Reservoir, Texas

1 hour 10 minutes from Dallas (60 miles)

Fishing tackle held in the foreground at a lake at dusk
Get your fishing tackle ready for a peaceful day by the lake
Steven M Quillen/Shutterstock.com

Why you should visit: Considered a popular weekend getaway for nearby residents and also frequented by out-of-state tourists, the Cedar Creek Reservoir is worth the 60-mile trip from Dallas. Fishing at this reservoir is one of the most popular activities.

How to get there: The fastest way to get here from the city is via US Route 175 East and local routes that'll take you through the towns of Kemp and Mabank before arriving at the beautiful lake.

Besides being a top recreational spot, the lake supplies water to Fort Worth and several nearby counties. With over 320 miles of shoreline, the views of the lake, especially during sunset, from any lakeside establishment are simply breathtaking.

It is worth noting that this fishing hotspot is home to species like blue catfish, channel catfish, white bass, and several other ingenious fish, it is believed the lake is great if you're looking to catch big!

You can also explore Tom Finley Park (closed on Tuesdays, hours vary through the week - an island park located in the center of the reservoir), Whatz-Up Fun Park, a lakeside amusement park, Creek Wildlife Management Area, Valentine Shores RV Park, and Sandy Shores RV Park, and more.

Taking up to 32,620 acres of land, there are endless adventure activities at the Cedar Creek Reservoir to make the most of the scenic landscape.

13. Lake Ray Roberts, Texas

1 hour 10 minutes from Dallas (65 miles)

Yellow flower at Lake Ray Roberts situated in Ray Roberts State Park, Texas
Lake Ray Roberts is home to a gorgeous variety of fauna and flora
Megan Purcell/Shutterstock.com

Why you should visit: A picturesque lake surrounded by wildlife management areas, wetlands, a state park, and several other natural gems, a trip to Lake Ray Roberts is bound to be relaxing. This massive 29,350-acre man-made lake is only an hour's drive from Dallas.

How to get there: Located in Northeastern Texas, between the Texan cities of Pilot Point and Sanger, the quickest way to get to Lake Ray Roberts is via Interstate 35 East, which will lead you directly to Ray Roberts Lake State Park (open from 6am to 10pm), the perfect place to explore the lake from.

Formed as a result of erecting the Ray Roberts Dam, set at 141 feet tall, Lake Ray Roberts is owned and operated by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

Around the lake, you'll find several camping grounds like the Hawthorn Circle Camping Loop and a wide array of hikes, ranging in difficulty and distance, to best explore the hidden nooks and crannies of the landscape. You'll also be able to go horseback riding on the equestrian-friendly trails.

One of the top activities at the lake is fishing, and you'll find all the basics you need at the marina for a fruitful fishing experience. You can also connect with any of the numerous guided fishing tour companies in the area.

Operating Hours: 6:00am-10:00pm

15. Lake Whitney, Texas

1 hour 15 minutes from Dallas (75 miles)

The stunning sunset at Lake Whitney, Texas
Unwind by Lake Whitney at sunset after a day enjoying the popular the city of Waco
Hundley Photography/Shutterstock.com

Why you should visit: home to deer, opossums, raccoons, snakes and armadillos, Lake Whitney State Park is a great place to spot a huge variety of wildlife while enjoying a day by the lake.

This is a great family-friendly option, as Whitney State Park offers Junior Ranger programs. These fun-filled activities offer kids (and their adult companions!) the chance to explore the lake's surroundings with an explorer pack and tools tailor-made for a day packed with learning.

How to get there: From Dallas, head south, taking Interstate 35 East, until you reach Hillsboro (at exit 370A). From here, it's an easy 20-minute drive west on State Highway 22. You'll pass through the small city of Whitney before reaching Lake Whitney State Park itself, where parking is clearly signposted.

While Lake Whitney is well worth the trip from Dallas in itself, the city of Waco (just over half an hour away) is a popular tourist destination thanks to its vibrant cultural life. Fans of the long-running TV show Fixer Upper, will no doubt be excited to visit the famous Magnolia Market.

But Waco's cultural credentials extend far further than the Silos. Take in the birthplace of Dr. Pepper; shop until you drop at the city's numerous antique stores; and discover a world of artisan craftsmanship at Homestead Craft Village.

Opening hours: 7:00am-7:00pm

15. Lake Texoma, Texas, and Oklahoma

1 hour 30 minutes from Dallas (90 miles)

Boats docked at Lake Texoma, Texas-Oklahoma border, at Sunset
Lake Texoma as one of the largest in the region, with plenty to do and see
L2 TEXAS/Shutterstock.com

Why you should visit: Located on the border of Texas and the neighboring state of Oklahoma, Lake Texoma is easily one of the biggest lakes in the country. Surrounded by two stunning state parks, this lake is home to boat marinas and is a hotspot for sailing and power boating as well as other water sports opportunities.

How to get there: Spread across a massive area of 89,000 acres, it is the 12th largest US Army Corps of Engineers Lake. To get to this gem, you'll have to follow along US Route 75 until you get on Texoma (Texas-Oklahoma Drive) and pass by Waterloo Park, Randell Lake, and Island View Park to reach Lake Texoma.

Believed to be visited by nearly 6 million visitors annually, this lake is fed by the Red River from the west and the Washita River from its north end. Within the lake, several islands can be accessed via boat or kayaks, namely Treasure Island, Little Island, Wood Island, etc.

Around the park, you'll also find Eisenhower State Park (Texas, open from 8am to 5am most days) and Lake Texoma State Park (Oklahoma, open 24 hours), two wildlife refuges, several camping grounds, RV parks, and resorts that enjoy stunning vistas of the lake. The nearby golf courses and recreation areas are perfect for picnicking with a view.

Bonus: Though the lake has been a famous recreation spot since its inception, it rose to another level of fame after water was drained from it due to a flood, creating an unreal visual of a 2.5m hole forming within the lake.

16. Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas

3 hours from Dallas (140 miles)

The tree-lined shoreline of Possum Kingdom Lake in Texas.
Find peace and solitude at Possum Kingdom Lake
Brandon-Smith/Shutterstock.com

Why you should visit: Spread across 17,000 acres with a shoreline extending over 300 miles in Palo Pinto, Texas, is the Possum Kingdom Lake. Surrounded by picturesque peaks, idyllic valleys, and parks, this is one of the top destinations for nature lovers. You can also go boating, fishing, canoeing, swimming, hiking, or golfing in the area.

How to get there: Located 3 hours from Dallas, the best way to get to Possum Kingdom Lake is via Interstate 30 West and Texas Route 337 West, which will take you through the ridges and meadows until you arrive at your destination.

Possum Kingdom Lake is impounded by the Morris Shepphard Dam that was constructed in Brazos River Basin. The name of the lake has several exciting backstories, the most prominent of which involves a Russian-Jewish immigrant named Ike Sablosky. Sablosky became a successful businessman in the fur industry and used to refer to the Brazos canyon from where he obtained his raw materials, the Possum Kingdom.

Among other things, Possum Kingdom Lake is known for being home to Hell's Gate, a narrow strait between Devil's Island and the mainland, making for an iconic landscape and a popular party area. It is, in fact, the site of one of the most extensive fireworks displays in all of Texas.

Bonus: It's a hotspot for several celebrations, so if you're able to, planning your trip around one of the significant events like the Possum Fest or the Mardi Gras Parade & Shrimp Fest would be an excellent idea.

Operating Hours: 8:00am-5:00pm

17. Caddo Lake, Texas, and Louisiana

2 hours 45 minutes from Dallas (170 miles)

The swamp and bald cypress trees on Caddo Lake between Texas and Louisiana.
Marvel at the majestic Bald Cypress Trees on Caddo Lake
Adventures On Wheels

Why you should visit: If you're looking for an offbeat, thrill-seeking nature gateway, head to Caddo Lake. In this fantastic area, you can go paddling through the Bayou, take a steamboat tour, hike, or go camping in one of the campgrounds if you're feeling adventurous!

How to get there: Spread across a colossal area of 25,400 acres in Texas and Louisiana, this lake is worth the nearly 3-hour journey by road. To get to Caddo lake from Dallas, the ideal route will take you on Interstate 20 East until you reach the town of Marshall, and then, via local routes, you'll get to the lakeside.

Named after the Caddo or Caddoans, a group of Native Americans that inhabited the area until the 19th century, this lake includes one of the largest cypress forests in the country. The Caddo people believed that the lake came about as a result of a series of earthquakes, which may be true given the region's unique geology.

Inhabited by owls, alligators, snakes, beavers, eagles, river otters, and several other wildlife species, the lake, and adjacent state park is a hotspot of unique animals that have adapted to the distinctive topography of the Caddo Lake.

Bonus: Caddo Lake and state park have been the site of several alleged Bigfoot sightings, reported in a 2006 documentary titled Bigfoot.

Operating Hours: 8:00am-4:45pm

Best lakes for an overnight trip from Dallas

We absolutely couldn't compile this list without including these last three lakes. While they're a little further afield, these lakes are some of the most scenic that the United States has to offer. So load up the car, book an overnight stop, and enjoy!

18. Lake Ouachita, Arkansas

5 hours 20 minutes from Dallas (330 miles)

Ouachita River flowing into Lake Ouachita, surrounded by lush forest
It's hard to beat the beautiful landscapes at Lake Ouachita
Kat Byrd I/Shutterstock.com

Why you should visit: Known to be the largest lake in Arkansas, Lake Ouachita is perfect for boating, kayaking, fishing, scuba diving and swimming. The region is home to nearly 200 islands, making it a boating enthusiast's dreamscape.

How to get there: To get to Lake Ouachita, located five and a half hours from Dallas by road, you'll follow along Interstate 30 East to go from Texas to deep into Arkansas and then ultimately reach the gateway towns to Lake Ouachita.

Lake Ouachita is made up of 40,000 acres of pristine blue water and is undoubtedly one of the top destinations in Arkansas. The lake came into fruition due to the Blakely Mountain Dam damming the Ouachita River and has since become a popular recreational destination.

Surrounding the lake are the lush Ouachita National Forest, the unique Hot Springs National Park (5am to 10pm), and two other serene lakes, Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine.

The lake is known for being home to rare jellyfish species, Largemouth Bass, Small Mouth Bass, Walleye, Catfish, and several other unique aquatic wildlife. There are many trails in the region that you can follow to discover hidden parts of this iconic landscape.

Covered in lots of vegetation which contributes to the good health of the lake and its environment, Lake Ouachita also has many accommodations or camping options to stay at overnight.

Bonus: Lake Ouachita is known to have one of the largest crystal veins, a collection of crystallized minerals within a rock, in the world.

Operating Hours: 8:00am-4:30pm

19. Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

8 hours 10 minutes from Dallas (505 miles)

Aerial view of Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, surrounded by lush forest
Lake of the Ozarks is well worth an overnight trip, with its spectacular view
RN Photo Midwest/Shutterstock.com

Why you should visit: If you're looking to travel during a long weekend and fancy an exciting road trip, visiting the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri is bound to be a great idea. As such a famous destination, there's so much to do here like hiking, trying new water sports, going on a cave tour (of the nearby Stark Caverns), and relaxing at Big Surf Waterpark.

How to get there: While it's located 8 hours away by road, it's an excellent way to tick visiting the state of Missouri off your list. To get to the Lake of the Ozarks, you'll follow along US Route 75 North through Texas into the plains of Oklahoma and US Route 69 North, crossing landmarks like the Atoka Wildlife Management Area, Arrowhead State Park, Eufaula Lake, and more. Ultimately, Interstate 44 East will lead you into Missouri and then the Lake of the Ozarks.

Created as a result of impounding the Osage River in Central Missouri, the Lake of the Ozarks is spread across a colossal area of 54,000 acres. The unique water body has been given the nickname “The Missouri Dragon,” an ode to its interesting twisting and turning shape. Since it is located at the edge of the Ozark Mountains, it was given its current name.

At the time of its creation, Lake of the Ozarks was the largest artificial lake in the US and remains one of the biggest lakes in the country today. Adjacent to the park is Lake of the Ozarks State Park, a beautifully diverse landscape making up the largest state park in the state.

The lake also holds several events annually like a polar bear plunge, a powerboat race, Aquapolooza, and more.

Bonus: Lake of the Ozarks is famously known for being home to several graves at its bed, and it is believed that near Linn Creek Cove, the lakebed is indeed an underwater ghost town!

Operating Hours: Sunrise to one-half hour after sunset

20. Lake Martin, Alabama

10 hours and 30 minutes from Dallas (675 miles)

Sailboat on Lake Martin, Alabama, with rugged rocks and trees in the background
You'd never know that Lake Martin is man-made, with its lush green vegetation
JNix/Shutterstock.com

Why you should visit: Located ten and a half hours from the heart of Dallas, Lake Martin is in East-Central Alabama. Spread across 39,000 acres, this giant man-made lake is one of the top spots to visit in Alabama and a great place to explore while on a short road trip from the city. A famous spot to visit with family and friends, this area offers many activities. From boating to skiing to golfing, you'll find unique ways to spend time by this scenic lake.

How to get there: Though located nearly 700 miles from Dallas, the quickest way to get to Lake Martin begins via Interstate 30 East and almost immediately getting on Interstate 20 East to travel through Texas and Louisiana, into Alabama. Before reaching your popular destination, you'll drive through the farmlands of Alabama, the Red River National Wildlife Refuge, Bienville National Forest, and other landmarks.

A reservoir created from erecting the Martin Dam on the Tallapoosa River, Lake Martin was at one point the largest artificial body of water in the world!

The lake has numerous landmarks like the Kowaliga Bridge, Russel Marine - The Ridge Marina, Lake Martin Beach, Dare Power Park, and more. One of the top attractions in the region is undoubtedly the Chimney Rock, a massive rock structure that looks like a chimney.

Bonus: As a popular destination, Lake Martin is the spot for several exciting events like the Alexander City Jazz Festival, frequent fishing tournaments, 4th of July celebrations, and more.