Gavins Point Dam - Omaha District US Army Corps of Engineers

OMAHA DISTRICT

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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 4:00pm.

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

Phone: (701) 654-7411

  • 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 5 through August 2:

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

Scheduled Tours: Call (701) 654-7411. 

Garrison News Releases

Garrison powerhouse summer tour schedule updated

2/20/2014
Walk-in tours of the Garrison Dam will be available from June 5 through August 2. Tours will be held on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 2 p.m., Central Daylight Time. 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. Scheduled tours are also available by calling (701) 654-7411.

Garrison Project 2013-2014 Winter Access Policy now available

12/11/2013
The 2013-2014 winter access policy released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Garrison Project identifies 55 points of entry to Lake Sakakawea. The Lake has not yet completely frozen over, but with the recent cold weather it won’t be long. The Omaha District urges everyone to exercise extreme caution. Thin ice or open water may exist near springs and pressure ridges throughout the winter.

Shutdown prompts closures at Corps-operated campgrounds and day-use parks

10/1/2013
Within the Omaha District, which encompasses Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming, Corps-operated campgrounds and day-use parks will be closed. Corps parks leased to partner agencies and concessionaires will remain open, but cannot be supported by the Corps while the shutdown is in place. The public is encouraged to ensure their campground is not impacted before arriving. Information regarding closures and affected areas will be posted at Corps-operated campgrounds and day use areas. Maintenance and operations services, such as cleaning restrooms and vault toilets as well as trash removal, may be curtailed at several locations.

Possible nationwide closure of Corps-operated campgrounds and day-use parks

9/30/2013
If the potential shutdown of the federal government goes into effect, Corps-operated campgrounds and day-use parks will be impacted nationwide beginning Tuesday, Oct. 1. Corps parks leased to partner agencies and concessionaires will remain open, but cannot be supported by the Corps while the shutdown is in place. Several parks in, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska and Colorado are leased to partner agencies. The public is encouraged to ensure their campground is not impacted before arriving.

Draft Environmental Assessment for land exchange at Garrison Dam/Lake Sakakawea Project available for public review

9/18/2013
A draft environmental assessment for the exchange of federal and private lands at Garrison Dam/Lake Sakakawea Project in N.D. is currently available for public review. The draft EA evaluates the effects of exchanging 11.4 acres of land owned by the Corps and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with 5.9 acres currently owned by a private land owner.

Vegetation control to begin on Missouri River sandbars between Garrison Dam and Lake Oahe headwaters, N.D.

8/26/2013
During the period between September 1, 2013 and September 30, 2013, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will have a contractor spraying sandbars aerially with aquatically-approved herbicides for vegetation control on emergent sandbar habitat in the Missouri River below Garrison Dam and ending in the Lake Oahe headwaters (river miles 1381 to 1283). The Bismarck-Mandan area is excluded from spraying activities (river miles 1310 to 1325).