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BRA parks open and available for Memorial Day fun

BRA parks open and available for Memorial Day fun

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With heavy rainfall this spring, most U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoirs and their park and camping areas are closed for the Memorial Day weekend.  But, the Brazos River Authority reservoirs at Possum Kingdom Lake and lakes Granbury and Limestone have plenty of recreational opportunities to enjoy, including boat ramps, fishing piers, playground equipment, hike and bike trails, overnight campsites and more.

With reservoirs completely full this year, a variety of fun summer opportunities await from boating and fishing to hiking and just enjoying the beauty of nature available in the Brazos River basin.

POSSUM KINGDOM LAKE

Located primarily in Palo Pinto County west of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Possum Kingdom Lake offers almost 220 miles of recreational shoreline, featuring beautiful scenery ranging from limestone cliffs to the impressive Hell’s Gate Formation.

The reservoir parks feature 10 BRA public use areas scattered across the central peninsula and the west side. Nearly all are free year-round, and the two that charge during the summer months call for a modest fee. The parks feature ample camping sites and sheltered picnic tables from the wooded areas right up to the lakefront and are available on a first come, first served basis. Reservations are not necessary.

From mid-May to early September, the BRA charges a small fee for camping and day use at two of our more popular PK public areas: Sandy Beach and North D&D. Children 12 and younger are always free.

Children can enjoy the BRA’s playgrounds at North D & D campground and Sandy Beach Park. Designed with age-appropriate areas for 2-5 year olds and 5-12 year olds, they meet national playground guidelines and feature the latest in child-safe playground equipment with swings, slides, spinners, twisters, climbing areas and learning panels. These fun zones are Americans with Disabilities Act accessible. Playground equipment sits atop a 12-inch thick layer of wood chip-style materials to cushion the ground throughout the play area. The facilities also offer parent-friendly sitting areas with benches. Nearby at both parks are ADA accessible restrooms with showers. Many of the public areas also feature marked swimming areas, roped off well away from traffic on the reservoir.

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If you enjoy getting on the water, Possum Kingdom Lake offers many opportunities.

The BRA provides several boat ramps and courtesy docks in and around the public use areas. Most of these facilities are free to use, year round. Whether you like to water ski or to tool around the reservoir on a personal watercraft, there is plenty of room to do it on PK’s 17,700 acres. And with a daily fee of $5 per boat, there’s plenty of enjoyment for a nominal price.

Texas anglers know the reservoir is also a good place to cast their lines.

Among the varieties of fish you might hook are largemouth, striped and white bass; white crappie; and channel and blue catfish. Many people also like to fish in the Brazos River just below Possum Kingdom’s Morris Sheppard Dam.

An extensive network of hike and bike trails also offers exercise and enjoyment. These crisscross Possum Kingdom Lake’s central peninsula, connecting the reservoir’s public areas with 16 miles of paths. The wide trails are suitable for hikers with a wide range of abilities, averaging a 5 to 20-degree slope. You can enjoy the sights and sounds of Texas flora and fauna along the winding trails or at one of 19 lookouts. One segment of the trail winds to the top of Johnson Peak, where there is a scenic rest area is equipped with benches.

Whether you want to spend a few days camping or just want to get away for the day, the opportunities for fun at the cool waters of Possum Kingdom Lake are practically endless.

For maps of recreational opportunities and hike and bike trails click here. For information on recreational activities at Possum Kingdom Lake, call 940-779-2321.

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LAKE GRANBURY

Lake Granbury also offers an exciting number of recreational activities. The area combines beauty and accessibility without having to travel outside the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

Conveniently located in Hood County just southwest of Fort Worth, the reservoir has more than 121 miles of shoreline and four parks with free overnight campsites. Your family can spend up to 10 days camping at the scenic parks that offer sheltered picnic tables and grills. Public restrooms with running water can be found at every park.

If boating is your family’s passion, you have no shortage of opportunities to enjoy a day on the reservoir. There are free public boat ramps at all four parks on Lake Granbury.

Recent park upgrades include widened boat ramps and new courtesy docks as well as fishing piers for those who choose to catch their dinner.

For a map of the parks around the reservoir, click here. For more information on Lake Granbury, call 817-573-3212.

LAKE LIMESTONE

Located 40 miles east of Waco, in Limestone, Leon and Robertson counties, Lake Limestone offers four park areas; two sponsored by the BRA and two provided by Limestone County.

The first, located in Robertson County near the Sterling C. Robertson Dam, offers day use amenities including a group pavilion, picnic tables and grills perfect for your family cookouts. Public restrooms are also on hand at the park. There is no drinking water available at this site.

The second BRA park at Lake Limestone is located northeast of the dam. This location is equipped with public restrooms, pavilions and grills. The park also offers a boat ramp, fishing piers and overnight campsites.

The Limestone County sponsored parks are located on each side of the F.M. 3371 bridge over the reservoir. Each park offers primitive camping with a 14-day limit. Fishing, boat launch and ramps as well as picnic tables are available. Park 3 offers restroom facilities; however, there is no drinking water available at either county park location.

Whether you’re planning for a day or a week, Lake Limestone can accommodate you and your family for fun close to home. Just pack your tent, essentials, and food and water, and you’re set to go.

Reservations are not required. Campsites are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

To view a map of recreational areas, click here. For more information on Lake Limestone, call 903-529-2141. 

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Brazos River 

Although the BRA does not own or maintain canoe/kayak launch points on the Brazos, there are many put-in and take-out locations available along the river. Popular paddling locations are the stretches of river below Possum Kingdom Lake and Lake Granbury. You can find points below the dam at Possum Kingdom Lake by clicking here. For the area below Lake Granbury, you can find a map of distances and access points here. Information including access points and hazards along sections throughout the basin can be found through the helpful resource of Southwest Paddler by clicking here.

The bed and banks of the Brazos River are state-owned, which means camping, fishing and picnicking are allowed when confined to the bed and banks of the river. Be sure to respect the adjoining private property along the river by not trespassing and by cleaning up and packing away any trash that you create. And don’t forget, while it is not illegal to consume alcohol when camping or boating on a river or lake in Texas, it is illegal to drive a motorized boat while intoxicated and to be publically intoxicated.

No matter where you plan to spend this Memorial Day weekend, always remember before heading out to be prepared with the necessary licenses and permits as well as the appropriate safety equipment. Safety must be your number one concern during any recreational activity. Texas weather can change in an instant. Make sure you are aware of the area forecast and are prepared for weather changes. And remember that while on the river or the reservoir, everything you do has an effect on the quality of your drinking water. The pollution you allow today could be headed to your faucet tomorrow.

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