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Texas Lakefront Property near Austin, Texas


Texas Lakefront Property near Austin, Texas

Canyon Lake vs. Lake Travis

How many of us love Austin, Texas?  Quite a few.  And for those of us who have spent time in Austin either going to school or working, part of our love for Austin grew from the time we spent at Lake Travis.  Now that we are a bit older, wiser, and, hopefully a little more financially established, our thoughts turn to the big question of where to retire, and if not retire, where to build that vacation home that will attract our kids to visit us---mom and dad.

Canyon Lake MapBig Picture:  Texas

The state of Texas is growing as both a vacation home and retirement location.  In the last few years, Texas towns have been listed in numerous publications such as US News, Forbes, and CNN Money as affordable, fun filled places to enjoy life.  The greater Austin area, in the Texas Hill Country, in particular, is growing as a place people want to go to get away, whether it is just for a weekend getaway or for a permanent home for their retirement years.

With people living more active lifestyles, lakefront living is becoming even more popular.  Sailing, fishing, paddle boarding, kayaking all are increasingly popular sports.  Austin has a number of rivers and is also graced with Lake Travis---but did you know that only an hour or so away is Canyon Lake---another hill country beauty similar in look and feel to Lake Travis.  Canyon Lake is a little bit smaller, but it retains more water in times of drought, and is a far less expensive place to live.

Canyon Lake vs. Lake Travis

  • Both lakes are in the Texas Hill Country. 
  • Both lakes have beautiful clear blue water. 
  • Both lakes are close to major metropolitan areas. Lake Travis is 23 miles from downtown Austin and Canyon Lake, 55 miles.  However,   Canyon Lake is also close to other areas: 19 miles from New Braunfels, 21 miles from Gruene, and 44 miles from San Antonio.
  • Both are close to live music venues, entertainment, movies, and restaurants.

So how do you pick one over the other?  


1. General Information:

Lake Travis

LakeTravis, northwest ofAustin, was created for flood control and as a water reservoir for the surrounding Austin area.  The lake is a winding enlarged area of the Colorado River with a surface area of approximately 18,930 acres. It has 13 park/recreation areas and 11 boat ramps.  The lake is considered full at 681 ft. Unfortunately, even with spring rains, the lake is down (as of the date of this post) to 639 ft due to two years of continuous drought, leaving all but one of the boat ramps unusable at this time.

Canyon Lake

First Mountain on Canyon Lake TexasCanyon Lake, southwest of Austin, was also created for flood control and as a water reservoir for the surrounding area.  The lake spreads out from the dam filling the many valleys in this high part of the Texas Hill Country.  The lake covers approximately 8,230 acres and it has 8 public parks and 23 boat ramps. Canyon Lake was not affected as badly by the drought.  It is considered full at 909 ft and currently is filled to 902.12 feet  (as of the date of this post) with 13 of the boat ramps open.   

2. Affordability

For a comparison of affordability we chose to compare Lakeway and Canyon Lake.  Lakeway has a population of 11,525, located in the gently rolling hills on the south bank of Lake Travis.  Canyon Lake has a population of 22,039, nestled between the hills and the water on the eastern shore of Canyon Lake.

lake travis and canyon lake chart comparison resized 600

Clearly, living in Lakeway is more expensive than Canyon Lake.  There are other cities on the north side of Lake Travis that are less expensive, but overall you will find that lake property will be 30% to 300% higher on Lake Travis compared to Canyon Lake.

3. What are people saying about Canyon Lake vs. Lake Travis? 

See the forum discussion below.

Where to buy lake property-- Canyon Lake or Lake Travis--was the exact topic of discussion in a forum hosted by the website,  The responses are frank and interesting, and reaffirm that if you are looking for a lake property in the Texas Hill Country, you would be wise to take the time to look at Canyon Lake.

The link for the discussion is: For your convenience we have cut and pasted, the discussion blelow.

Subject: Canyon Lake vs Lake Travis


We are looking for a lake house with which to eventually retire to. Just wondering which lake is considered nicer....we are coming from Houston so going to Canyon Lake avoids the Austin traffic....Thanks, Julie


karnival96:  Make sure you're coming with truckloads of money if you plan on having a lake house on Lake Travis. Moving further up the Highland lakes chain would probably give you quieter and more affordable options. Based on my limited experience, Canyon Lake also appears to be much more peaceful and less developed than Lake Travis.

Atxcio Location: Austin, TX :  Lake Travis is far more "citified". More housing, more shopping and restaurants, along with the city of Austin itself, are within close proximity. Because of that, it's very expensive -- some places along Lake Travis are basically wealthy suburbs of Austin.

Canyon Lake is a bit more like a retreat; as are the highland lakes up the chain from Lake Travis.  It is equally as nice IMO (in my opinion) as Lake Travis, but definitely a more rural feel.  Canyon Lake also has the Guadalupe river right there for tubing, rafting, or kayaking. New Braunfels is just a short distance away, but still not anything like having a big city so close like Austin.

Txstate: Canyon Lake of course you never know when LT (Lake Travis) is low and has no water, and aquifer restrictions. Plus it’s in the middle of the A/SA corridorplex (that’s the new saying).

Jdonati  (Julie, who initially asked about Canyon Lake Vs. Travis Lake): Wow, this is great info... like Canyon Lake is more for my husband and my style...

Hoffdano:  Lake Travis has a very different shape than Canyon. LT (Lake Travis) changes from the wider section near the dam and changes to more of a wide river the further you move up its 65 miles of length. LT (Lake Travis) when full is 18,000 acres vs 8,000 or so for Canyon.  I haven't been on Canyon in some time so I really don't have first hand experience there on a peak summer weekend.

Lake Travis has a different living environment depending on if you are "south shore" or "north shore." South shore is closer to Austin, more developed, and more expensive.  North shore is much farther from Austin since your route to the city is via 1431 and 183 or 1431 and 281/71. South shore residents are often not retired.

The further up the lake, the more relaxed it is. Summer weekends are busy in the main areas - which I think of as between the dam and Pace Bend Park.  But Lake Travis is beautiful year round and I think it is a terrific place (in general) to retire to.

Buying land on Lake Travis needs to be considered carefully because of the varying water levels. You MUST be sure you will have water when the lake drops 50 feet - like it did over the last three years.

Do you want to find out more about Canyon Lake?

You may have had your heart set on Lake Travis, but if your pocket book doesn’t allow it or if you are concerned about lake levels, come visit Canyon Lake.  You’ll fall in love with the Lake’s turquoise waters and surrounding hills, its central location, and the numerous activities available for the entire family. 

 Canyon Lake Real Estate Kit

Request our Canyon Lake Real Estate Kit.  You will receive a full size map of the lake listing developments, parks and marinas, information on two premier gated communities on Canyon Lake, First Mountain and Las Brisas, and plats showing the layout of each neighborhood.  Click here and we will be happy to mail it to you. 

Come find out about Canyon Lake, Texas!  You will be happy you did. There is so much to see and do in Canyon Lake.

Let us know what you think.  Comment below if you have opinions about Lake Travis or Canyon Lake.


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