• Sweeping views of the lake
  • Free public access

eBird Link

Canyon Lake Dam Overlook Park
Canyon Lake Dam and Water Access

The Location

Overlook Park is one of the few parks on Canyon Lake that’s both free and open year-round. It requires a short hike down an incline to the rocky shoreline. Once by the water you have a great view of the dam and open water, including the deepest section of the lake.

This park is definitely underbirded. As of writing this, the top eBirder has fewer than 50 species. It’s also not the birdiest hotspot at Canyon Lake, but it probably is the most accessible. So if you’re already in the area, or looking to add species to your Comal County list, it’s worth at least a quick stop.

This park can get somewhat busy on fair weather days during spring and early fall, and is always packed on big holiday weekends. But otherwise, there’s usually not too many people here, especially on week days. On a cool day during winter you may just about have the whole place to yourself.

Compared to other locations around the lake, you’re probably hoping for an interesting flyover like a gull, goose species, maybe a Common Raven. Sometimes birders find good birds on the water, but most often there’s just wide open, empty space on the lake surface. Shorebirds like Spotted Sandpiper can be seen along the rocky shoreline, and even Willets have been found here.

Canyon Lake Overlook Park beach shoreline
Gravel shoreline that transitions to limestone slabs further down.

Birding Recommendations

From the first small parking lot on the right as you drive in, walk and bird your way down to the water. Bring a scope with you if you have it. As you walk, watch for birds down low as well as flyovers. During winter you’ll likely kick up a few sparrow species. Lark Sparrow is common in the warmer months.

Canyon Lake Overlook Park
Top of the hill, near the small parking lot.

Once you arrive at the water, find a good vantage point to scan the water. Looking northwest, you can see nearly 4 miles straight over open water, so we’re dealing with some serious distance here. Binoculars will help you spot ducks that may be on the open water, but a scope will help actually ID them since they may be at a good distance. Common Loon is possible here, but uncommon.

While you’re near the dam, briefly check the top of the control tower. Twice in the past a Brown Booby has been seen in this part of the lake, and both individuals would use the tower as a perching spot. Chances are low, but it never hurts to look.

Distant photo of a Brown Booby perched on top left of the tower.

Once you’re done scanning the water, head back to the top of the hill. You can walk or drive to the back end of the park by continuing down the road. At the rear parking area/round about, there’s access to a trail that cuts through the Ashe Juniper trees. You can pick up some woodland species here but there probably won’t be much bird activity.

Nature trail through the Juniper Trees

The best option is the walk to the fence where the property dead ends at a huge drop off, and bird the shrubby vegetation growing along it. There’s always at least a handful of birds here.

The fence line is always good for birding.

When you have a view of the huge cutout in the rock below, keep your ears open for the resident Canyon Wrens.

Vantage point of rock cut out.

As you walk back to your car, watch the open grassy areas near the roundabout since there’s almost always sparrows foraging in the short grass.