Prairies and Lakes



The Prairies and Lakes region is in north central and central Texas. This area is a transition between the plains of the West Texas Panhandle and the Pineywoods of East Texas. Patches of woodland running in a north and south direction are sprinkled throughout this grassland prairie. The land is gently rolling to hilly. This region is sometimes called “cross timbers” because these patches of treed areas cross strips of prairie grassland.

The soil here is rich, fertile, and black. Part of this region is called Blackland Prairie because of this. Once, tall prairie grasses grew all across this region but settlers built farms and produce crops on it now. Conservation biologists are trying to restore some of the prairies that wildlife depend upon for survival.

Lake Fork, Lake Ray Roberts, and Cedar Hill State Park are popular state parks here. People who love to fish come from all over Texas and even other states to fish in area lakes.


Giant dinosaurs once roamed this region long, long ago. Fossils of 17 different dinosaurs have been found including Tyrannosaurus Rex! The official state dinosaur of Texas is the Pleurocoelus. The Technosaurus was found near Texas Tech University, hence its name! This dinosaur was no longer than a large dog and was an herbivore (plant eater). The Alamosaurus was named after a New Mexico trading post called “Ojo Alamo” where this dinosaur was first found. “Alamo” is the Spanish word for the cottonwood tree. The Alamosaurus was also an herbivore, however, it swallowed plants whole and let its stomach digest it. This was because its teeth were not suitable for chewing. Dinosaur Valley State Park has the largest collection of dinosaur footprints. You can see dinosaur tracks in the Paluxy River bed at the state park, which is near Glen Rose.

Topography and Characteristics

Major Rivers: Trinity, Red, Brazos
Major Aquifer: Trinity
Size: 45,000 sq. mi.

The landscape is gently rolling to nearly level, and elevations range from 300 to 800 feet above sea level. Crop production and cattle ranching are the primary agricultural industries. There are two types of prairies here.

Oak Woods and Prairies:
Size:19,500 sq mi. Upland soils are light colored, acidic sandy loam or sands. Bottomland soils may be light brown to dark gray and acidic with textures ranging from sandy loams to clays.

Blackland Prairies:
Size: 25,500 sq mi. Typically, soils are uniformly dark-colored alkaline clays, often referred to as "black gumbo", interspersed with some gray acid

Major Cities / Rainfall / Elevation

Regional Average Rainfall: 26-40 in./yr
Regional Average Net Evaporation rate: 41 inches

Albany - 28.45 in / 1,400 ft
Bonham - 44.56 in / 600 ft
Burnet - 32.43 in / 1,275 ft
Comanche -29.41.33 in / 1,358 ft
Dallas - 37.05 in / 440 ft
Gatesville - 33.43 in / 760 ft
Glen Rose - 34.82 in / 656 ft
Gonzales - 36.02 in / 380 ft
Marlin - 37.99 in / 388 ft
Mexia - 40.40 in / 535 ft
Mineola - 45.88 in / 385 ft
Mineral Wells - 31.79 in/ 930 ft
Wills Point - 43.68 in / 522 ft

Data source: National Climate Datat Center, U.S. Dept of Commerce.

Common Vegetation

Black hickory
Black walnut
Burr oak
Eastern cottonwood
Post oak
Wax myrtle

Mexican plum
Green ash
Red oak
Flameleaf sumac
Green hawthorne
Black cherry
American elderberry
Bald cypress


Rare Plants & Habitats

Large-fruited sand verbena: Openings within oak woodlands on deep sands
Navasota ladies-tresses: Openings and drainages in post oak woodlands
Tall grass prairie plant community has become rare in the Blacklands Prairie

Rare Plant Communities

Common Wildlife

Plains pocket gopher
Hispid cotton rat
Ornate box turtle
Green-winged teal
Bobwhite quail
Red-shouldered hawk
Scissortail flycatcher

White-tailed deer
Brazilian free-tailed bat
Nine-banded armadillo
Texas horned lizard
Eastern hognose snake
Northern mockingbird
Guadalupe bass

Rare Animals & Habitats

Houston toad: Pine/oak woodland or savannah on deep, sandy soils.
Black-capped vireo: Rangelands with scattered clumps of shrubs separated by open grassland
Golden-cheeked warbler: Woodlands with tall Ashe juniper (sometimes called "cedar"), oaks, and other hardwood trees
Texas kangaroo rat: Clay soils and sparse, short grasses and small, scattered mesquite bushes

Threatened and Endangered Wildlife

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