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Lake J.B. Thomas: Complete Recreational Guide (2023)

Lake J.B. Thomas is a large and popular reservoir in the Texas plains. Although the water level tends to fluctuate, this lake is well-regarded for boating, fishing, and camping.
itiswild.com Lake J B Thomas Guide

Lake J.B. Thomas is an artificial reservoir along a portion of the Colorado River in the west-central Texas counties of Borden and Scurry. 

Created in 1952, this impoundment sits in a section of the plains area of Texas approximately 70 miles northeast of Midland, 90 miles west of Abilene, and 100 miles southeast of Lubbock. 

a boat on a lake in texas during a sunset
Source: dreamstime

With a surface area of 7,282 acres, this body of water seasonally fluctuates due to downriver flows and seasonal rains. 

Five parks managed by the Colorado River Municipal Water District (CRMWD) offer opportunities for camping, fishing, walks along the lake, boating, and a variety of water-related activities. 

The district serves more than 600,000 customers in the area by providing a reliable source of water. 

Visitors to the lake’s 88 miles of shoreline, recreation sites, and camping areas should secure parking passes before using the facilities. 


This impoundment was designed in the early 1950s along a portion of the Colorado River. After the impoundment was completed, the reservoir expanded to over 7,000 surface acres. 

The lake honors the founder and one-time president of the Texas Electric Service Company, Julian B. Thomas.

Rains and significant water flows along the Colorado River may cause lake levels to fluctuate in a very short period of time. 

In May 2015, the lake’s level rose 11 feet in a week as the result of heavy rainfall in the area that led water from many creeks and gulches into the lake. 


Silhouette of motor boat and wakeboarder at sunset performing trick
Source: dreamstime

Lake J.B. Thomas is a large reservoir known for great boating, fishing, and camping opportunities in the plains area of the state. 


  • Swimming is not prohibited, though no lifeguards are on duty. 
  • Most swimming occurs alongside park areas. 


  • Motorized and non-motorized watercraft are permitted within Lake J.B. Thomas.
  • Due to the ever-changing level of the lake and the presence of shallow areas and rock outcrops, boaters should check the current lake level.
  • Some rocky outcrops are located in the water – areas of higher elevation not submerged in the lake; boaters should approach carefully to prevent damage to their watercraft.
  • A no-wake speed is required within 50 feet of the lakeshore, swimming area, and those who are surfing, paddling, and on smaller craft. 
  • No restrictions prohibit activities such as wind sailing or water skiing. 


  • Kayaking, canoeing, and similar paddling activities are permitted within Lake J.B. Thomas.
  • Like boaters, paddlers should be aware of numerous rocky outcrops, especially when the water is low.


  • The best fishing opportunities take place in the lower reservoir area. 
  • White bass, largemouth bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, blue catfish, and white crappie are the most common species found in the lake. 
  • Numerous undeveloped areas and multiple parks offer excellent shoreline access.
  • The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department provides occasional lake surveys and stocking history for curious anglers.
  • Those who fish may want to check current lake level conditions.


  • Bull Creek Park, on the northern shore.
  • Sandy Beach Park, on the northeast section of the lake. 
  • South Side Park, the closest campground to the impoundment, with good facilities.
  • White Island Park, a site on the lake’s southern shoreline.


  • Although there is not a system of formal recreation trails along the lake, short walks are available in many areas.
  • The length of the dam on the lake’s eastern side is 2.75 miles.

Access points:

  • Bull Creek Park: Situated on the lake’s northern shore just off Scurry County Road 3235, Bull Creek Park has camping areas, a boat launch, and basic amenities. 
  • Sandy Beach Park: Sitting along the lake’s northeastern corner, this location offers first-come, first-serve campsites and excellent lake access.
  • South Side Park: Located on County Road 3234 immediately south of the impoundment, this recreation area offers multiple boat launches, picnic areas, a dump station, shady tree sites, and camping opportunities. 
  • Rocky Point Park: On the lake’s southern shore, a short drive north of County Road 3236, this area, with few facilities but great lake access, sits along the southeastern portion of the reservoir.
  • White Island Park: On the lake’s southern shore, a short drive north of County Road 3236, this area offers first-come, first-serve campsites and great views of the lake for anglers. 

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