View Full Version : Austin, Texas Lakes

Stackhouse Adams
04-21-2004, 02:29 AM
I read a post previously and can't remember where, but wanted more information. The posts were talking about boating on Lake Austin and living in the Steiner Ranch area. My wife and I are thinking about relocating to Austin and visited at the end of March. The lakes are beautiful. We checked out the launch on Lake Austin just under the 183 (Mopac?) (you guys have too many names for each road!). Anyway, I'm interested in finding out how boating is on Lake Austin as well as Lake Travis. Does it get really crowded? The previous posts mentioned Steiner Ranch, do you like living there? Do you use their private boat club? Do most people store their boats in their garage, dry dock somewhere, or in a boat slip?

How's the Moomba Dealership there in South Austin? We've heard horror stories of people having poor service at other dealerships if they didn't purchase their boat there.

Basically, any information on Austin would be appreciated! You guys live in a really nice area and we're very excited to learn more.


Shoemaker Mobius
04-22-2004, 02:50 PM
I live in Austin and just started boating in February of this year. The boat ramp you probably looked at was the ramp at the 360 (Capital of Texas Highway) on Lake Austin - 183 and 1 (Mopac) don't cross Lake Austin. We trailer our boat and store it at one of those storage unit places. The storage we use is outside and costs $30 per month - good security. We looked at putting it at a marina like Lake Austin Marina, but the prices for dock with a lift (so the boat doesn't sit in the water all the time) was in the $320 per month range and the slips are in demand. That seemed pretty much the story for all the marinas on Lake Austin. Lake Austin is the primary wakeboarding lake due to relatively smooth water. If you go to Lake Travis (a much larger lake), we have heard that there is so many boats and much larger boats, that unless you move into the coves on the lake, wakeboarding is difficult. I believe dock space is likewise pretty expensive on Lake Travis. However, there are boat storage marinas on Lake Travis that pull your boat out of the water on a tram contraption and stack them inside huge warehouses. You just call in advance and they'll have your boat at their dock waiting for you. I believe that runs in the $250-300 per month range though. If you trailer to Lake Travis, the best boat put-in, bar none, is at Mansfield Dam. This place is unbelievable - a huge, 5 boat wide put in ramp with a well positioned dock area for picking up the trailer parker. In addition, they have two huge parking lots just for the car-trailers - I counted over 100 slots. If you trailer and put in at the public docks like Mansfield Dam, the 360 bridge, etc., you can buy an annual pass for your car and trailer for $105 (I think) which covers all the public ramps. If you do a daily pass it is $10 so the annual is a deal.

As far as crowds, we have seen it fairly crowded at the 360 bridge on Lake Austin. But, as long as you put in before 10:30am and take-out before 5pm, so far it has not been bad at all. There is limited trailer parking at the 360 bridge, but people just park them along 360 when the lot fills up. So, Lake Austin for wakeboarding, Lake Travis for cruising. However, we have also been told that if you go to Lake Travis real early on the weekends (7-7:30am), there are few boats and wakeboarding is good. Lake Travis draws a lot of the cigarette racing boats and really large cruisers. We have also heard that the Pedernales River is good for wakeboarding and I have seen several postings about Canyon Dam Lake (between Austin and San Antonio) being a good boating lake.

There are several communities areas on Lake Austin that if you are a homeowner, you have access to their private ramp. One area is off Cuernavaca and closer to Mansfield dam on Lake Austin is Apache Shores. If you find a nice home in those areas, the boat ramp is a really nice perk.

One benefit we found of trailering is being able to get much cheaper gasoline. If you are at a marina, you are at the mercy of the marina.

I don't know much about Steiner Ranch, but I did take a visit to the public ramp out that way. It was very small and very little trailer parking space. The road to the ramp is very narrow so I don't see where people park their trailers when the lot spaces are full.

04-26-2004, 10:02 AM
I live in Apache Shores and drive by Steiner Ranch everyday. I would recommend living out here since you have 2 lakes in your backyard. Here is the difference. Steiner Ranch is a newer neighborhood that continues to grow. The houses are very close and on small lots and look similar. They have a nice area by the lake that can get crowded. Apache Shores is older, but growing very fast. Since it is older, their is a lot more character and diversity in the neighborhood. Our park area is more modest, but much less crowded. We have a lot of land on the water that is overgrown that we need to clear, which was started this winter. You can find houses with incredible views n Apache. Both are about 35 minutes from downtown. Apache is on the best water (and the coldest).

05-04-2004, 12:45 PM
Dont even try finding smooth water on Lake Travis on the weekends. It gets pretty crowded and the shore is basically a wall so it acts like a bulk head in some areas. Lake Travis is more of a party lake instead of a water sport lake.

05-05-2004, 02:19 PM
Lake Austin is a very good skiing/wakeboarding lake, but it does get quite crowded on weekends. Nothing beats the smooth water on Lake Austin when you can sneak out on a calm work day. Even if its windy, the cliffs or hills are so high and the lake has enough bends, that its easy to find a spot where the wind isn't a factor.

That said, I am mainly a Lake Travis person. I have never wakeboarded, and I'm purely a recreational skier, so I find the vastness of Lake Travis more suited to my wife and me. There are several good spots for wakeboarding and skiing. Pedernales River arm of Lake Travis was mentioned, and the other very good one (much closer to Austin) is Sandy Creek. I'm not much of an early riser, but I wish I were because it is true that if you get out there early, it can be as smooth as can be, but around 11 or noon, any calm water is short lived because of all the traffic.

I can't say much about Steiner Ranch. Austinlsv mentioned that the neighborhood is pretty new, and that's right. It looks awfully cookie cutter to me, but it sure is a good location, boating-wise, with your choice of 2 lakes in easy distance.

Just bought my Moomba Kamberra last October (near as I could tell, the last new one in Texas) from South Austin Marine, and I've been pretty happy with them so far, but the only service I've had was a 20 hour check.

It will only take you a week or so to get used to all the names for the major roads, but iyears later you may learn a new name for a less major road that you though you knew was called one thing. The road out to Lake Travis (or the 360 bridge over Lake Austin, depending on which direction you are coming from) itself may hold the title for the most names of a road in Austin (but I wouldn't swear to it); the trick is, though, that each road name connotes a different section of the same road: RR 2222, Allendale, Koenig (pronounced Kay-nig by all except new people) Northland, and it wouldn't suprise me if there were more. Its just one of those little charming things about life in Austin.:)

Shoemaker Mobius
05-05-2004, 03:37 PM
In my previous post I forgot to give you feedback on South Austin Marine. I can't comment on their service for non-buyers, but I have found their service (as a buyer) to be very good. My only concern is that as of about a month ago, they seemed to only have one mechanic that works on V-drives. When I took my LSV in for the 20 hour check-up on a Monday, they told me it wouldn't be completed until late Thursday because their mechanic that handles V-drives was off that week on Tuesday and Wednesday. I think they lost a mechanic and that created the void. They may have hired a new one, but I don't know since I haven't been back for service since then. I can tell you that their service managers are top notch and extremely helpful.

I can also tell you that it is a family-owned business that has been opened for something like 25 years so they must be doing most things right. My experiences with them have been 100% positive, from the sales guy, to sales managers, to finance manager, to owners, to the accessory and board shop manager, to the parts department and service department.

Hope that helps.

Stackhouse Adams
05-05-2004, 03:49 PM
Thanks for all the great feedback on boating in Austin! We figured that Lake Travis was the party scene, which is great for hanging out but glad to know though that there are some places on Lake Travis for skiing. We'd stick to Lake Austin for the serious slalom runs as we're not early risers either. Our one concern about Lake Austin is how shallow it is. We ate at the County Line when we visited in March and right through there it couldn't have been more than 3-5 feet deep.

Good news about the Moomba dealership too. We bought our Moomba Outback in October and we're just aproaching our 20 hour service.

As far as Steiner Ranch - we love the location - but do agree that it's very "planned"! We'd love some advice on other neighborhoods within an easy proximity to the lakes that maybe have a little more character (and are maybe a little more affordable).

Besides Lake Austin and Lake Travis - how are the other Highland lakes - Lake LBJ, Inks Lake, Lake Marble Falls, and Lake Buchanan? Are there other great boating lakes within proximity to Austin that aren't part of the Highland Lakes chain?

Lastly, how's the tent camping scene in Central Texas with truck & boat access?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer us.

05-06-2004, 05:46 PM
Lake Austin is a constant level lake (not technically true, but it seldom varies by more than a few inches) so I can think of almost nowhere where depth is a problem, Being used to Lake Travis, my depth alarm goes off alot on lake austin, but that's just because it is generally shallower, so while 10 feet depth is cause for alarm on Travis, its not on Austin. The county Line is on Bull Creek just up from the main lake, and yes, it is very shallow. Right at the mouth of Bull Creek, by the way is as far as I know the main party spot on Lake Austin. I'm 34, and by do I feel old if I go in there!

The other Highland Lakes all have their strong suits. I think Lake Marble Falls (the next one up from Lake Travis) might rival Lake Austin for Skiing/Wakeboarding. I haven't been on that lake since I was a kid, but back then that mainly was because it is so un-crowded.

LBJ is a pretty big lake and I like it; but the wind can really howl through there. It is a very good fishing lake.

Inks Lake is the smallest of the Highland lakes, I believe, and I haven't been there on a boat, but I've been to the state park that takes up much of the shore, and it looks like a great lake for camping.

Lake Buchanan is the widest of any of the lakes (and the first in the chain.) Fishermen dominate this lake. I go up there a couple of times per year and stay in a cabin at the upper end of the lake where the river begins forming the lake. It is not great for skiing (though Silver Creek can be pretty smooth) but the area is really beautiful, and there are a couple of waterfalls upriver you can get to, so its a great place for a weekend. They say, and I believe it, that Lake Buchanan has fewer boats on it on a holiday weekend than Lake Travis does on an average weekday.

Camping around Austin on a Lake:
Arkansas Bend Park on Lake Travis (north Shore)-- A small park, rough camping, but not a bad place at all, especially if you live north of Austin, its a short drive
Pace Bend Park on Lake Travis: I actually can't believe I've never been to this park, but I hear very good things about it. Cliffs on one side, more of a slope on the other. Close to where the Pedernalies river comes into the lake, so not far from good skiing. <--- edited typo

Inks Lake Sate Park -- Lots of improved campsites; a big park.

NON Highland Lakes:
I also like Canyon Lake, which is about 1-1/2 hours from Austin near New Braunfels. Its a Core of Engineers lake on the Guadelupe River. I've only been once, we went on a Saturday on a whim to camp and all the parks were full, so we ended up camping at an RV park (story for another time) but we do mean to get back down there a little earlier sometime, because all the parks that allow camping looked really good.
Here's the Texas Parks & WIldlife site about it (a good resource for other parks, too:
Hope this helps, I'll let others comment on neighborhoods you might be interested in; as I live in north-central Austin and don't really know much about the neighborhoods closer to the lakes.

05-07-2004, 12:41 AM
Stackhouse, if you want a neighborhood with character and a boat ramp on Lake Austin, check out Apache Shores. Also, no need to worry about water depth on Lake Austin.

10-15-2004, 10:22 PM
Besides Lake Austin and Lake Travis - I just got back from Inks Lake, great camping and if you go up river under the bridges there is a little stretch of river were the skiing and boarding was pretty good (some tight turns but good water). Lake Marble Falls is good if you stay up river but again tight turns. Lake Buchanan is a big lake and the sand island is a lot of fun for the kids, but if you go up river past the water falls you can find some great skiing all day and the views as you go up river are Godís art work. Canyon is a great sail boat lake, if you stay on the upper end of the lake you can find a cove or two that is ok but they get busy on the weekends. If youíre up for a road trip try Lake Whitney up river, stay at Indian Lodge (tell Tim Cliff sent you), you can find smooth water anytime (just keep going up river).

I live in San Antonio and go to Lake Medina most of the time, up river at Pops Place. I know I spend a lot of time up river but thatís why I bought an inboard boat.

The BleuRue

10-19-2004, 02:39 PM
Have you ever been in the guadalupe just north of canyon lake? I haven't been there but have heard it pretty good. I heard it was trick getting from the lake up to the river.

10-25-2004, 10:53 PM
Trees are very thick at the start of the lake. I didn't know you could even get through the trees. I have never talked to anyone who has ever tried. I'll have to ask around.