Kingsland & Lake LBJ
A perfect hideaway on Lake LBJ, Kingsland is 66 miles northwest of Austin and just down the road from Marble Falls. The terrain consists of gently rolling peaks and valleys made up of limestone, sandstone and granite formations and outcroppings adorned with majestic oak, pecan, juniper and mesquite trees.
Magical Kingdom: Kingsland
There is something magical about Kingsland. Visitors and locals say it’s charming, so quiet at night and a wonderful place to stargaze and watch majestic sunsets. Others brag about Kingsland being in the middle of everything from live music to wineries with incredible views. Yet it is also the place to get away from it all! So many vacation choices await you: boating, camping, fishing, lakeside dining and drinking, nature walks and birdwatching, shopping at trendy boutiques or vintage stores, and, of course, splashing in one of the cool Highland Lakes. Best of all, Lake LBJ is a “constant level” lake, so you can count on water!
As Chet Garner, host of Daytripper, once said in his 2014 Texas Highways article, “If I were to dream up the perfect kingdom, it would be a land of flowing rivers, abundant vineyards, smoky barbecue, and maybe even some gold. I searched for all of this and more on a recent day trip to the Texas Hill Country and the aptly named town of Kingsland.”
“Kingsland is a hill country gem. Just a short drive out of the Austin mayhem, suddenly you are surrounded by rolling hills filled with wildflowers, breathtaking river vistas and just a slower pace of life. Kingsland’s greatest asset is the community—folks are willing to slow down and chat with you and offer you recommendations for your visit. I highly recommend a visit!“
“I loved experiencing the laid-back and welcoming people in this water-surrounded community. For me, time seemed to slow down and the town had all I needed. I felt hurried and stressed by trying to do “all the things” in Austin. My time in Kingsland helped me breath and reflect on how I wanted to show up in the world. I rinsed off the city grind by swimming in the lakes and enjoying sunsets.”
The Beauty of Lake LBJ
Originally called Lake Granite Shoals, the Lake LBJ reservoir was formed in 1950 by the construction of Granite Shoals Dam by the Lower Colorado River Authority. The lake was renamed to Lake Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) in 1965 in honor of the US President from Texas who had a ranch on the lake during his presidency and vice-presidency.
Lake LBJ is one of seven freshwater reservoirs that make up Highland Lakes formed by several dams on the Colorado River. The dams provide flood control and are used to generate hydroelectric power and recreational opportunities. While the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) is not required to maintain a constant level at Lake LBJ, the level rarely varies by more than a foot, so it is considered by many as a “constant level” lake. Lake LBJ is the place to head to when looking for an escape near or on the water.
The Story of Kingsland
Sitting along the junction of the Llano and Colorado Rivers, halfway between Marble Falls and Llano, Kingsland is deep in the heart of Texas. Located primarily in east central Llano County with a sizeable portion in Burnet County, Martin D. King, Sr., and J. M. Trussell purchased land in 1879. Several years later after King’s death, in 1883, his wife Nancy Jane King surveyed, platted, and named the town Kingsville. The new town began to grow and prosper as the site of a cotton gin and a small trading center in the 1880s. Town growth expanded dramatically with the arrival of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad in 1892. Because of its rivers, picturesque terrain, and good hunting and fishing, Kingsville became a popular resort and recreation spot. Excursion Trains from Austin added to the growth.
By 1901, its name had been changed to Kingsland by the U.S. Post Office—there was already a Kingsville in South Texas. It grew in the number of businesses, including the historic Antlers Hotel, built by railroad interests. In 2020, the Kingsland population stood at more than 7,000 and the town continues to grow to approximately 10,000 residents. The portion residing in Llano County, approximately 6,500, represents one third of the entire population of Llano County.
The Antlers Hotel
The Antlers Hotel is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Restaurant “Hoopers” is in the former house in which director Toby Hooper filmed the first “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” movie.
Llano County Historical Museum
The Llano County Historical Museum is located on the banks of the Llano River. The museum, located in the historic Bruhl Drugstore Building is operated by the Llano County Historical Society, Inc. Its exhibits interpret the history of Llano County. Included are a polo exhibit, farm and ranch room, clothing and textiles, military items, rocks, and a variety of photographs.
Packsaddle Mountain stands five miles southwest of Kingsland in eastern Llano County (at 30º37′ N, 98º30′ W) and is of interest to both historians and geologists. Its twin-peaked silhouette resembles a saddle from some perspectives. Intriguing traces of gold, silver and other minerals have been reported in the sands of Honey Creek and the mountainside. It is said to be the location of the Los Almagres mine, the object of Jim Bowie’s searches.
Nightengale Archaeological Center
Nightengale Archaeological Center, Kingsland, is a perfect park for both recreation and exploration both on and off the water. Given the location’s natural history, this park provides educational opportunities for youth and adults. Contact LCRA Parks for more details regarding field trips or private excursions.