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


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

During September, the Omaha District will conduct vegetation management activities on sandbars in the Missouri River. Contractors will use a helicopter to spray sandbars with aquatic-approved herbicides to keep them clear of vegetation. This work is being done so that the sandbars can continue to be used by the endangered interior least tern and threatened piping plover for nesting. The sandbars being treated are on the Missouri River between the Garrison Dam and the Hazelton Boat Ramp on Lake Oahe (river miles 1381 to 1278). The Bismarck-Mandan river reach, river miles 1325 to 1310, and river miles 1364 and 1363 north of Washburn, N.D. will not be sprayed. [Read More]
Published: Aug-27-14

Public comments sought on environmental assessment for a proposed seismic study to evaluate hydrocarbon reserves in N.D.

A draft environmental assessment for a proposed seismic study to evaluate hydrocarbon reserves in McKenzie and Williams Counties, N.D. is currently available for public review. The draft EA evaluates the environmental impacts of seismic exploration activities on federal and non-federal lands within the project area. [Read More]
Published: Aug-08-14

N.D. landowners with flowage easements to receive letters on property use requirements

Many landowners with properties that are adjacent to Lake Sakakawea and along the Missouri and Little Muddy Rivers are being sent letters notifying them that their property falls under a flowage easement with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District. The Corps has acquired numerous flowage easements in this area. If a property falls under a flowage easement, the land owner must obtain consent from the Corps prior to excavation, fill or construction on those lands. [Read More]
Published: Jun-02-14

Boaters and swimmers reminded to wear life jackets

Before you head out for a day on or near the water, you're encourage to make sure you have life jackets for everyone and that they please wear them. On average, 9 out of 10 people who drowned at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lake or river project didn’t wear a life jacket. Life jackets save lives by keeping you afloat and providing time for rescue. [Read More]
Published: May-23-14

Piping plover arrive in North Dakota

Some areas around Lake Sakakawea where Piping Plovers typically nest are inaccessible during this year's nesting season. Park rangers and biologists from several agencies have observed many of the birds at area boat ramps. As the mountain snowpack begins to melt and the runoff arrives at Lake Sakakawea, rising lake elevations reduce the available nesting habitat near the lake and lead to birds nesting in marina parking lots and boat ramp areas. If you discover what appears to be a Plover nest along Lake Sakakawea, or have questions about Piping Plovers, please call the USACE office in Riverdale, N.D. at 701-654-7759. [Read More]
Published: May-21-14
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