Falcon Lake Information

Falcon International Reservoir, also known at Falcon Lake, sits on the Rio Grande River with half of it in Texas, and half in Mexico. Its northern tip is 44 miles south of Laredo, Texas in Zapata and Starr Counties, and the county and city of Nueva Ciudad Guerrero, Tamaulipas, Mexico in the state of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Falcon Lake covers 78,300 acres with over 400 miles of shoreline and a maximum depth of 110 feet at the dam. Falcon Lake is owned, authorized, and operated by the United States and Mexico through the International Boundary and Water Commission. All lands on the United States (U.S.) side, except for Falcon State Park, are privately owned above 307 feet above sea level.

Americans are allowed on both sides of Falcon Lake without immigration or customs inspection if they do not land in Mexico or take aboard anything from Mexico. The United States side has nine public access areas. The dam runs along a two-lane highway connecting Farm Road 2098 and Mexican Highway 2 on its southern edge. Highway US 83 runs north to south on Falcon Lake’s eastern border. Zapata, Texas, is the only town on the U.S./Texas side close to Falcon Lake.


History Of Falcon Lake

The U.S. and Mexican governments approved the construction of Falcon Lake in the late 1940s for the purposes of water conservation, flood control, hydroelectric energy, and recreation. Construction began in 1951, and impoundment began in 1953. Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adolfo Ruiz Cortines dedicated Falcon International Reservoir October 19, 1953. Almost two miles of the dam is in the United States, and nearly three miles is in Mexico.

The U.S. and Mexico both operate three 14,750-horsepower turbines with each running three 10,500-kilowatt generators. The treaty allowed for the U.S.. to finance 58.6 percent and Mexico 41.4 percent. The conservation storage for both countries is based on the same percentages. The U.S. spent $35 million on construction costs and received $130 million in flood-control benefits by 1986. The original site of Zapata, Texas, and Guerrero, Mexico, lie under Falcon Lake. The original church in old Guerrero can still be seen from the Salado Arm of the lake.

The first European settled in Revilla, today’s Ciudad Guerrero, Mexico around 1750. The viceroy of New Spain commissioned Colonel José de Escandón to explore and colonize the frontier on the Rio Grande to the north with the promise of land grants from the Spanish government on both sides of the Rio Grande River. When the requirements for validation of the grants were met, settlement began in earnest around 1767.

Zapata, Texas, went through several names and began as a growing town on the Rio Grande River. Its first name was Habitación, and then changed to Carrizo, after an Indian tribe in the area that lived in cane huts. When Zapata county was carved out of Webb and Starr Counties, it became Bellville, Texas, after Governor Peter Hansborough Bell, who signed the bill authorizing Zapata County. Finally, in 1898, the town became Zapata, after local rancher Colonel Antonio Zapata. Camp Drum and Camp Harney were built in the 1850s to deal with border problems and Indian attacks in Zapata.


Fishing Falcon Lake

Falcon Lake presents interesting fishing conditions. You cannot fish below the dam because of sudden water surges based on irrigation needs and controlled by computer from Brownsville. The water fluctuation level is severe and usually 40 to 50 feet, or more. Americans are allowed on both sides without immigration or customs inspection if they do not land in Mexico or take aboard anything from Mexico. Launching at elevations below 250.50 is not available’.

On the Texas side of the lake, the daily bag limit for alligator gar is five fish, with no minimum length limit. All other fish are managed under statewide regulations. A Mexico fishing license is required for everyone in a boat. You do not need a Mexico boat permit. Mexico licenses can be purchased at tackle stores on the Texas side. For information on Mexico’s fishing regulations, visit the National Aquaculture and Fishing Commission (CONAPESCA) website.

The predominant species are largemouth bass and channel catfish. Other species include striped and white bass, bluegill, crappie, gar, and tilapia. Excessive netting from Mexican commercial fishermen along with frequent fish kills during summer low oxygen periods have significantly impacted the striped bass population.

Huge alligator gar in the triple digits and over 200 pounds have the attention of bow-fishermen. Look for crappie to be hanging around docks, bridge pilings, and brush along the deeper edges. There are nine public access areas on the Texas side of Falcon Lake, but no marinas. At low lake levels, rock piles and standing timber provide the majority of structure along with sparse hydrilla with aquatic vegetation.

Falcon Lake is huge on an international border. Fishing guide services can show you how to fish in international waters with no hassle. There are two countries involved in the operation of Falcon Lake which have different laws. Let a fishing guide show you the way and where the fish can be found on Falcon Lake.

Find experienced local guides on our Lake Falcon Fishing Guides page.


Boating on Falcon Lake

Falcon Lake has no marinas and two free boat ramps south of SH 16 on US 83 and just north of the eastern side of the dam on FM 2098. There is severe fluctuation in the water level which is typically 40 to 50 feet or more. Boaters need to watch out for standing timber and rock piles if the lake is low. Falcon State Park offers nine public access areas and a boat ramp with three 24-foot lanes at 262-foot elevation. Water levels at Falcon Lake significantly affect boat access. Launching at elevations below 250.50 is not available.

Falcon Lake is big enough for all types of boats like cabin cruisers, canoes & kayaks, fishing boats, houseboats, outboard motors, paddle boats, personal watercraft, pontoon boats, sailboats, ski boats, and sport boats. Bring your own gas. You do not need a Mexico boat permit. Americans are allowed on both sides of Falcon Lake without immigration or customs inspection if they do not land in Mexico or take aboard anything from Mexico.

Find or sell a boat on our Falcon Lake’s “Boats for Sale” page.


Falcon Lake Rental Cabins

There are a few housing developments with vacation home rentals at Falcon Lake, but you need to book them in advance. They have beautiful accommodations with modern features. Falcon State Park offers cabins. This is a beautiful lake with a rich history, and it is easy to take a day trip into Mexico for more excitement. Look for arrowheads left thousands of years ago by Native Americans. You can find restaurants mostly in Zapata, Texas, and especially great Mexican fare.

Find the perfect vacation home on our Falcon Lake Cabins page.


Camping at Falcon Lake

Amazing sunrises and sunsets with a view of the mountains in Mexico on clear days await you at Falcon Lake. Falcon State Park provides access, boat ramp, and camping areas that range from tent spots to sites with hook-ups for electricity, water and sewage.Facilities include 24 shelters, 12 air-conditioned and 12 screened, RV with water, electricity, and sewage; campsites with water and electricity; campsites with water; restrooms with showers; a fish-cleaning shelter; playgrounds; a trailer dump station and a group recreation hall with kitchen for day-use or overnight-use. Three miles of hiking/mountain biking trails make a loop around the park and signs detailing plant life provide a 1-mile self-guided nature trail. Explore campgrounds on our Falcon Lake Campgrounds & RV Parks page.


Falcon Lake Hiking Trails

There is a three-mile loop at Falcon State Park offering the best wildlife viewing on the Texas side of the lake for hiking and mountain biking. Several other trails around Falcon Lake include the Valley Land Fund Salineño Tract / the USFWS Kepler Tract, and Falcon County Sesquicentennial Trail at the Falcon County Park.


Things to do at Falcon Lake

Take a day trip in Nueva Guerrero, and see the sites of a quaint old town in Mexico, with Mexican cafes, the Museo (museum) Trazos Regionales, a rodeo, clothes stores. Check out Roma–Ciudad Miguel Alemán, in Mexico, about 12 miles from the southern edge of Lake Falcon, for its wonderful historical sites and the Roma Historical Museum. It is a good idea to check in with the Border Patrol office in Zapata, Texas, to make sure it is safe to go into Mexico before you plan a day trip.

Visit Fort Ringgold in Rio Grande City, which is 25 miles south of Falcon Lake’s southern border. Fort Ringgold was the southernmost installation of the western tier of forts constructed at the end of the Mexican War and it was active for a century watching over the Rio Grande region. There is no nightlife on Falcon Lake, and all the restaurants are located in and around Zapata on Falcon Lake’s northeastern shores. 

Plan your activities on our What to do at Falcon Lake page. 


Real Estate on Falcon Lake

There are several housing developments on Falcon Lake on the Texas side. Falcon Mesa, Falcon Lake Estates, and Siesta Shores are all just a few miles south of Zapata bordering the waterfront. On the southern tip of Falcon Lake, two tiny communities are Falcon Village and Falcon Heights.

The nearest Walmart to Falcon Lake is in Roma–Ciudad Miguel Alemán which is about 12 miles south of the southern border of Falcon Lake. The nearest metroplex is 185 miles to the northeast in San Antonio, Texas. The Zapata and Roma ISDs provide education near Falcon Lake.

Find your dream home with a local real estate professional on our Falcon Lake Homes for Sale page.


Falcon Lake Climate

Falcon Lake sees an average of 21 inches of rain and 224 days of sunshine per year. Precipitation is rain, sleet, and hail. The winter low in January is 46 degrees with a summer high in July of 98 degrees. February, March, and November are the most comfortable months for this region. Stay tuned on our Falcon Lake Weather Forecast page. 


Zip Codes

Starr County: 78361, 78536, 78545, 78547, 78548, 78582, 78584,  78585, and78591.

Zapata County: 78067, 78076, and 78564.


Flora and Fauna at Falcon Lake

On the shores of Falcon Lake you can find Texas wild olive (Cordia boissieri), Mexican oregano (Lippia graveolens), hibiscus, mesquite thickets, huisache (Vachellia farnesiana var. farnesiana), and prickly pear cactus (Opuntia spp.). Wildlife sightings include greater roadrunners, collared peccaries, white-tailed deer, and black-tailed jackrabbits.

The Falcon Lake region is very popular with bird watchers which consist of resident birds, which range throughout the American Southwest, and many of the tropical species make this area their northwestern most home. You will also find the less common small green kingfisher and the varied bunting.

Falcon Lake Email Updates


 

Falcon Lake Current Weather Alerts

There are no active watches, warnings or advisories.

 

Falcon Lake Weather Forecast

Sunday

Partly Sunny

Hi: 85

Sunday Night

Partly Cloudy

Lo: 69

Monday

Partly Sunny

Hi: 85

Monday Night

Mostly Cloudy

Lo: 59

Tuesday

Mostly Cloudy

Hi: 74

Tuesday Night

Partly Cloudy

Lo: 63

Wednesday

Partly Sunny

Hi: 82

Wednesday Night

Partly Cloudy

Lo: 65


Falcon Lake Water Level (last 30 days)


Water Level on 12/5: 615.64 (+411.64)



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