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Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! Prevent invasive species Water Safety Reserve a campsite at USACE campgrounds at Recreation.gov Purchase Navigation and Boating Maps from the Jefferson National Parks Association
The River Basin Balancer Game offers insight into an inland waterway and a system of reservoirs, which are operated with a goal for serving each of the benefits, flood control, navigation, hydropower, irrigation, water supply, recreation, fish and wildlife, and water quality, for which many USACE reservoirs are authorized and constructed. Users can take charge of river operations and experience the unique challenges presented when managing reservoir operations in a variety of weather conditions across a geographically diverse basin.
River Basin Balancer Game
The River Basin Balancer Game offers insight into an inland waterway and a system of reservoirs, which are operated with a goal for serving each of the benefits, flood control, navigation, hydropower, irrigation, water supply, recreation, fish and wildlife, and water quality, for which many USACE reservoirs are authorized and constructed. Users can take charge of river operations and experience the unique challenges presented when managing reservoir operations in a variety of weather conditions across a geographically diverse basin.
Test your speed, reflexes and boating knowledge with the Corps' new Lake Guard game app. The free app teaches users about water safety gear and boating hazards preparing them for real life experiences in or around the water.
Lake Guard App
Test your speed, reflexes and boating knowledge with the Corps' new Lake Guard game app. The free app teaches users about water safety gear and boating hazards preparing them for real life experiences in or around the water.
The trout pond near the Downstream Campground at Garrison Dam. The Trout Pond was renovated last year.
Downstream Campground Trout Pond
The trout pond near the Downstream Campground at Garrison Dam. The Trout Pond was renovated last year.
The Garrison Dam West Tailrace Road, at Garrison Dam near Riverdale, N.D., which provides access to the Garrison Power Plant wing walls and west side of the tailrace area, is now open for public use.  The area was closed for a road reconstruction project and to repair damages incurred during the flooding in 2011.
West Tailrace Road Garrison Project
The Garrison Dam West Tailrace Road, at Garrison Dam near Riverdale, N.D., which provides access to the Garrison Power Plant wing walls and west side of the tailrace area, is now open for public use. The area was closed for a road reconstruction project and to repair damages incurred during the flooding in 2011.
A Northern Pike caught in March 2013 while ice fishing on Lake Sakakawea/Garrison Dam Project on the Northeast side of the lake in Steinke Bay, which is near Sportsmen's Centennial Park access and Steinke WMA access. Ice Fishing is a popular outdoor winter activity for may North Dakotans.
Ice Fishing: Popular winter activity at Lake Sakakawea
A Northern Pike caught in March 2013 while ice fishing on Lake Sakakawea/Garrison Dam Project on the Northeast side of the lake in Steinke Bay, which is near Sportsmen's Centennial Park access and Steinke WMA access. Ice Fishing is a popular outdoor winter activity for may North Dakotans.
Garrison Dam near Riverdale, N.D. Lake Sakakawea, formed by the Garrison Dam is the third largest reservoir in the United States.
Garrison Dam
Garrison Dam near Riverdale, N.D. Lake Sakakawea, formed by the Garrison Dam is the third largest reservoir in the United States.
Power plant tours at the Garrison Dam in Riverdale are offered to the public via walk-in and upon scheduled request. Due to increased security, visitors for powerhouse tours should arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the tour and visitors over 18 years old must show a government issued photo ID.
For more information, call (701) 654-7411.
Garrison Dam Powerplant
Power plant tours at the Garrison Dam in Riverdale are offered to the public via walk-in and upon scheduled request. Due to increased security, visitors for powerhouse tours should arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the tour and visitors over 18 years old must show a government issued photo ID. For more information, call (701) 654-7411.

Location: Near Garrison, N.D., River Mile 1,389.9

Lake Sakakawea and Garrison Dam are located 75 miles north of Bismarck, North Dakota amongst the rolling prairie and badlands of Western North Dakota.  Lake Sakakawea is the third largest man-made lake in the United States.  The lake is 178 miles long, has over 1,500 miles of shoreline, and deepest part is about 175 ft.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers oversees management of the public lands and waters of Lake Sakakawea which provide a variety of benefits to the public which include: recreation, fish and wildlife, flood damage reduction, hydropower production, irrigation, municipal and industrial water intakes, water quality, and navigation.

The Corps has several partners (Federal, Tribal, State, County, and City) who operate campgrounds, parks, and marinas on Lake Sakakawea.

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Garrison Dam was built in a region which served as a major transportation route. When the first fur traders arrived in the region in the 1700s, they found three Tribes of Indians settled there. The Hidatsa, Mandan, and the Arikara were farmers whose earth lodge villages served as major trading centers with the more nomadic tribes of the plains as well as travelers coming up the river.

In 1804, the Hidatsa villages on the Knife River hosted the expedition led by Captain Meriwether Lewis and Lieutenant William Clark, who had been commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the Louisiana Purchase from St. Louis to the Pacific. While at the villages, the enlisted a Canadian trapper named Toussaint Charboneau to serve as an interpreter and guide. Charboneau's wife, Sacajawea (Sakakawea - a Hidatsa word meaning Bird Woman) was a Shoshoni whose knowledge of the unknown land and people proved invaluable to Lewis and Clark and an important addition to the expedition. In honor of her courage, Lake Sakakawea was named for her.

The Lewis and Clark expedition opened the doorway to the West. Traders continued up the Missouri in increasing numbers setting up a number of small fur trading posts along the river. Federal soldiers became the next occupants of the territory as Fort Clark, Fort Abraham Lincoln, Fort Stevenson and Fort Buford were erected along the Missouri to protect steamboat traffic and settlers.

By the 1880s, the region opened to settlers. Many were farmers immigrating from northern Europe and Russia. In the Little Missouri River area, raising cattle became the primary industry. Future President Theodore Roosevelt tried his hand in the cattle business at his Elkhorn Ranch. Agriculture remained the mainstay of the economy in the 20th Century until the completion of Garrison Dam brought the recreation industry to Sakakawea County.

Fishing is the primary recreational activity at Lake Sakakawea. There are several boat ramps located around Lake Sakakawea and most are in recreation areas and some in wildlife management areas. Shoreline Access Areas are located around the lake and offer an additional means of getting to the water’s edge.

For information Corps-operated recreation at Lake Sakakawea visit Recreation.gov.

The Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery and Visitor Center is Located below the downstream of Garrison Dam. The hatchery visitor center is complete with five 400 gallon aquariums that will give you the pleasure of viewing the fishes of North Dakota in their environment.

The Audubon National Wildlife Refuge Complex provides several exhibits that feature wetlands, native prairie, and the abundant wildlife that can be observed on the refuge.

Public lands offer a great place for sportsmen to hunt pheasants, grouse, partridge, turkey, waterfowl and deer. There are a number of different wildlife management areas around the lake. In addition there are other areas that trapping/snaring may be allowed.

Lake Sakakawea fishing regulations are established and enforced by the State of North Dakota and the Fort Berthold Indian Tribes Game & Fish Department. The big lake offers a wide-range of sport fishing including pike, walleye and Chinook salmon.

There are many Ice Fishing Access Areas located around Lake Sakakawea. Most are boat ramps but there are other areas that provide a legal means for the general public to access the water during the winter.

The Corps of Engineers has certain project restrictions for areas it directly operates (buildings, recreation, and day use areas) for hunting, trapping and snaring.

  • From Bismarck: North Dakota, take Highway 83 north and turn left on Highway 200 west toward Riverdale.
  • From Minot: North Dakota, take Highway 83 south and turn right onto Highway 48. At intersection, turn right onto Highway 200 west toward Riverdale.

Garrison Dam Project Office and Information Center Hours:

Monday thru Friday 7:30am to 4 pm.

  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • 201 1st ST, PO Box 527
  • Riverdale, North Dakota 58565

Phone: (701) 654-7411

Hours of operation:
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday - Saturday
Beginning Labor Day
8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sunday—Saturday


  • Due to increased security, visitors for powerhouse tours should arrive 15 minutes prior to the tour and visitors over 18 years old must show a government issued photo ID.

Walk-in tours are available from June 4 through August 1:

  • Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 2 p.m. Central Daylight Time.

Scheduled Tours: Call (701) 654-7411. 

Garrison News Releases


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Powerhouse tours, camping and day use at Garrison Dam and Lake Sakakawea

A new schedule is available for Powerhouse tours, campground opening dates and camping fees for the 2013 recreation season. Walk-in Tours of the Powerhouse will take place Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. They will be conducted every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Tours for large groups can be arranged by calling 701-654-7758. Day use fees will be waived at Lake Sakakawea for the 2013 season. [Read More]
Published: May-03-13

Boaters, Anglers, and Hunters: Beware of Cold Water

With the ice now off most local area rivers and lakes boaters, anglers, and hunters need to take extra precautions when around water during this time of year. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is the largest federal provider of outdoor recreation opportunities, cautions outdoor recreationists to protect themselves against cold water immersion and hypothermia. [Read More]
Published: Apr-15-13

Landowners reminded to obtain permit for activity affecting Missouri River

Landowners adjacent to the Missouri River, including Lake Sakakawea and Lake Oahe, are reminded that obtaining a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is required for any activity in or affecting the Missouri River system. Types of activities that require permits include, but are not limited to: boat docks, intake systems, bank stabilization, dredging and maintenance to any existing structure or permitted activity. [Read More]
Published: Feb-27-13

Corps approves first surplus water supply agreement for Lake Sakakawea

The first Surplus Water Agreement, authorized by Section 6 of the 1944 Flood Control Act, allowing the temporary withdrawal of water from Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota, was signed by the Omaha District Commander Col. Joel R. Cross late yesterday evening. [Read More]
Published: Feb-07-13

Winter Access policy for Corps recreation areas in North Dakota now available

The 2012-2013 winter access policy for western and central North Dakota including Lake Sakakawea and Lake Audubon is now available. Ryan Newman, lake manager, said, "The lake has not yet frozen over, but with the recent cold weather it won’t be long. We urge everyone to exercise extreme caution. Thin ice or open water may exist near springs and pressure ridges throughout the winter." [Read More]
Published: Dec-17-12
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