Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, contests and more!
Start Your Free Trial
Hotspots Near You

302. Ray Roberts Lake State Park, Valley View, Texas

A multi-unit state park north of Dallas-Fort Worth that is home to more than 200 bird species, including Painted Bunting, Greater Roadrunner, and more.

Three unique ecosystems meet at Ray Roberts Lake State Park: the Eastern Cross Timbers, Blackland Prairie, and Grand Prairie. This region is part of the Woodbine formation, an upper Cretaceous deposit formed about 65 million years ago from sandstone.

The 29,000-acre Ray Roberts Lake supplies water to Denton, Dallas, and the surrounding areas, and it also provides key animal and fish habitats. The lake was named in 1980 after Denton congressman Ray Roberts (1913-1993), who worked on water issues in the area. The complex consists of two state park units (Isle du Bois and Johnson Branch), six satellite units, and a 20-mile Greenbelt Corridor, which has multi-use trails.

My favorite is the short Scenic Overlook Trail in the Greenbelt, a moderate 15-minute walk, which overlooks the Trinity River and is well worth the climb. Within the park, 229 species of birds have been recorded, such as Painted Bunting, Greater Roadrunner, and various hawks, ducks, and owls. Bald Eagles will sometimes winter on the lake as well. Visitors will receive a trail map at the Isle du Bois park office. Don’t forget to stop by the Interpretive Center across the parking lot for more maps, wildlife info, bird guides, and/or interactive games for your kids.

302. Ray Roberts Lake State Park, Valley View, Texas


Ray Roberts Lake State Park has multiple properties on the shores of its namesake lake north of Dallas-Fort Worth. To reach the Johnson Branch Unit, take I-35 north and exit onto E. Lone Oak Rd. (FM 3002). After 6.5 miles, turn right into the park on PW 4153. The Isle du Bois Unit, located on the south side of the lake, is reachable via FM 455 East.

At a Glance

Click on the coordinates below to view location:
33°25’47.68″N 97°3’23.39″W


Prairie, woodlands, wetlands, floodplains.


Ray Roberts Greenbelt has 20-mile multi-use trails following the wooded banks of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, and Isle du Bois and Johnson Branch have multi-use trails for all skill levels.


Spring: waterfowl, herons, Osprey (Uncommon), American Kestrel, Sora, Sandhill Crane (Uncommon), Greater Yellowlegs, Baird’s Sandpiper, Wilson’s Phalarope, Bonaparte’s Gull, Black Tern, Greater Roadrunner, swallows, warblers, Summer Tanager, Harris’s Sparrow. Summer: Great Egret, Mississippi Kite, Black Tern, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Loggerhead Shrike, Painted Bunting. Fall: Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Canvasback, Eared Grebe, vultures, Upland Sandpiper (Uncommon), Western and Pectoral Sandpipers, Franklin’s and Bonaparte’s Gulls, Forster’s Tern, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Ladder-back Woodpecker (Rare), Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, Eastern Bluebird, warblers, sparrows, finches. Winter: waterfowl, Bald Eagle, Turkey Vulture, woodpeckers, sparrows, meadowlarks.

When to go



Interpretive Center located across from the park office in Isle du Bois unit, staffed by local Master Naturalists.


State park. Isle du Bois and Johnson Branch open daily 6-10. Entrance fee $7 per adult; children 12 and under free.


Bring water and binoculars, and dress for the weather. The busy season is March-November.

For more info

Ray Roberts Lake State Park, (940) 686-2148 (Isle du Bois); (940) 637-2294 (Johnson Branch).

Photography tips

A favorite spot for photos
One of the best places in the park to photograph birds is near the Kid Fish Pond at Johnson Branch. It’s tucked in a cove right off of the main lake. The pond area is surrounded by a small wooded area for more cover and food sources. You’ll find several benches to sit and enjoy the scenery while you wait for woodpeckers, pelicans, chickadees, cardinals, and other birds to come in or pass overhead.

← Back to Hotspots

Caroline Blaha-Black

Caroline Blaha-Black is a former Elm Fork Master Naturalist, a freelance writer and book author. She also volunteers at a local wildlife rescue.

Caroline Blaha-Black on social media