Possum Kingdom Lake Party Cove

Possum Kingdom Lake is snuggled into the foothills of the Palo Pinto Mountains, about 100 miles west of Ft. Worth, Texas. It has 310 miles of shoreline and lies in the counties of Palo Pinto, Stephens, and Young.

Where is Party Cove on Possum Kingdom Lake?

The Possum Kingdom Lake party cove is inside Hell’s Gate.

Hell’s Gate is a passageway between the main body of water and the Possum Kingdom Lake party cove between the mainland and Devil’s Island. Hell’s Gate is on one of two Possum Kingdom Lake southern bends. It is on the west southern bend on that bend’s southeastern edge.

The natural wonder that is Hell’s Gate attracts boaters, cliff divers, and hikers. The party cove is not safe for kayaks and canoes during peak season. Motorboats and yachts dominate the party cove, inside it and outside it around Devil’s Island. And party is what these boaters do. They tie up to each other’s boats, boat hop, and party down till all hours of the night during peak season. There might be over 100 boats rafted together.

The Brazos River and Jowell Creek converge together at Hell’s Gate, and the Brazos River channel cuts through Hell’s Gate. Tall cliffs on the mainland side and the Devil’s Island side of Hell’s Gate characterize the landscape of the area. The Hell’s Gate cliffs are 90 feet tall and offer boaters a great atmosphere for throwing memorable parties. The party cove is a no wake and no skiing zone.

On the Fourth of July, you should arrive at the party cove on July 3rd for the fireworks on Devil’s Island. One of the best Fourth of July fireworks shows in Texas takes place on Devil’s Island with the Hell’s Gate Fireworks Show. To get to Devil’s Island by land, take SH 254 west about five miles from downtown Graford, Texas, to SH 16 south, and follow it about five miles to Hell’s Gate Drive. Take a right and follow Hell’s Gate Drive about five miles to until you hit water and see Hell’s Gate towering above the shoreline.

Is Possum Kingdom Lake a Party Lake?

Yes, Possum Kingdom Lake is considered a party lake.

While you can find quiet coves, many visitors come to Possum Kingdom Lake for fun and excitement. The people who party on the lake tend to be on the younger side. Possum Kingdom Lake is quieter in the cooler and cold months.

The PK party cove scenery is breathtaking, and the people watching opportunities are fascinating during peak season. Possum Kingdom Lake lies on The Brazos River and its tributaries.

Possum Kingdom Lake snakes through the Palo Pinto foothills with streams and tributaries that spider web around it, so there are plenty of spaces for the anglers and boaters who want a more peaceful experience on Possum Kingdom Lake. However, when you get out onto the main body of the lake, watersports rule.

Hell’s Gate and Devil’s Island Activities

The biggest event of the year, the Hell’s Gate Fireworks Show, is the Fourth of July fireworks blowout on Devil’s Island. But there’s quite a bit more to do at Hell’s Gate. Devil’s Island will put on its 35th anniversary fireworks show in 2022. The show is funded solely by donations. The Possum Kingdom Chamber of Commerce (PKCC) takes donations online, by phone, or by mail.

Devil’s Island is a little over 1000 feet long, east to west, and about 500 feet wide, north to south at its widest point. If you want to understand land formation and horizontal stratification of rock formations, Devil’s Island has it all. Hikers get a bird’s-eye view of the Brazos River Valley and the lake snaking through it. Camp Grady Spruce is on the opposite shore from Devil’s Island, a little over a mile north.

The YMCA Camp Grady Spruce leads hundreds of children and teens through Devil’s Island trails so they can discover the flora, fauna, and history of Devil’s Island. Camp Grady Spruce is only open to the public on the Fourth of July. But, people interested in hiking on Devil’s Island can call the camp and get valuable information about the hiking trails there.

Cliff Diving is popular on Possum Kingdom Lake. The cliffs are so great for diving that the Red Bull Cliff Diving Championship, which takes place all over the globe at famous natural cliffs, held their championship cliff diving competitions at Hell’s Gate for five years in their seasons from 2014 to 2018.

Red Bull built a diving platform on the eastern cliff of Hell’s Gate for their professional cliff diving championships. Fans from around the globe parked their boats on the water to watch the spectacular athletes perform. During those years, the kayaks and canoes joined the motorboats at the party cove.

You can always find something to eat around Possum Kingdom Lake. Even though this region of Texas is quite uninhabited and rural, about eight restaurants of various cuisines are ready to feed you. After you party at the party cove, check out the great eats awaiting you around the lake.

What to See on the Shoreline at the Possum Kingdom Lake Party Cove?

Huge lake houses line the inner side of the Possum Kingdom Lake party cove. They have views of the Hell’s Gate area. The luxury lake homes are located on the best part of Possum Kingdom Lake. When you cruise the party cove shore, you are sure to see some of the most expensive homes on Possum Kingdom Lake, and possibly in Texas.

Wildlife is the other shoreline attraction on Possum Kingdom Lake. You will see a lot of birds and bugs hanging around the party cove. There is much more to Possum Kingdom Lake’s ecology than bugs and birds at Hell’s Gate. You can always cruise around the lake and find out. During certain seasons of the year, the State of Texas lets longhorn cattle roam around on a range off the shoreline.

Armadillos, bobcats, coyotes, deer, eastern cottontail rabbits, grey foxes, raccoons, rattlesnakes, skunks, squirrels, and wild turkeys populate the Palo Pinto mountain region and Possum Kingdom Lake. And opossums, the lake’s namesake, are still running around the lake like they did in the fur trapping days.

Between March and September, birders might see a golden-cheeked warbler, an endangered species that nests only in Central Texas. Or, a black-capped verio, also endangered, but native to the U.S. and Mexico. Other birds to look out for are American goldfinches, barn swallows, belted kingfishers, canyon wrens, eastern bluebirds, eastern phoebes, great egrets, lark sparrows, mallard ducks, rufus-crowned sparrows, spotted towhees, and white-eyed vireos.

The Legend of Hell’s Gate

Long before Anglo settlers moved into Palo Pinto County in Texas, Comanche Indians dominated the region, but fur traders eventually saturated this region. We don’t have a date for this legend. Two fur traders were trekking down through the headwaters of the Brazos River with moonshine whiskey and baubles to trade with any friendly Indians that they might meet on their way for Indian fur pelts.

It was raining one day and those fur traders came upon a Comanche camp. The Comanches were smoking buffalo and deer meat. The fur traders spent a few days bartering with the Comanches for the trinkets they were carrying and noticed some fine quality fur pelts in the Comanches’ possession. The fur traders thought this was a good time to offer the Comanche leaders some free samples of their whiskey.

When the Comanche leaders passed out drunk, the two fur trading conmen stealthily stole the Comanche’s quality furs, loaded them on their burros, and headed south along the Brazos River. About five miles out, one of their burros broke its leg, and the other burro couldn’t carry the double load for long. Their third and now only burro, who was now packing some of the Comanche furs, fell down a canyon and died.

Those fur traders were now carrying their own heavy stolen furs. They realized the Comanches were going to wake up soberly soon, and realized that the two fur trading conmen had stolen their best quality furs. They knew the Comanches would surely follow their tracks, find them, and scalp them. The fur traders could see the Comanche’s smoke signals in the sky nearby.

Those fur thieves knew by this time that the Comanches were already close to catching them. They happened to be at a point on the Brazos River where two high limestone cliffs rose high into the sky and were separated by the river. One of the traders dropped his share of the fur pelts and climbed up one of the cliffs.

The other trader said he would rather go through the gates of Hell before he relinquished the furs to the Comanches. The Comanches did find those two fur traders, launched a significant amount of arrows, thereby piercing their bodies, and killed them both. From that day forward, that point on the Brazos River was called Hell’s Gate. When Possum Kingdom Lake began impoundment in 1941, it created Devil’s Island.

Photo credit: Shawn Gibson

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