Gavins Point Dam - Omaha District US Army Corps of Engineers

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Location: Near Yankton, S.D., River Mile 811.1

Lewis & Clark Lake and Gavins Point Dam are nestled in the golden, chalkstone-lined valley of the Missouri River growing into one of the most popular recreation spots in the Great Plains.

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Lewis & Clark Lake and Gavins Point Dam are nestled in the golden, chalkstone-lined valley of the Missouri River growing into one of the most popular recreation spots in the Great Plains.

Currently, the archeological record in the Lewis and Clark Lake area dates back to the Archaic Period, sometime around  3,000 to 5,000 B.C. The Archaic Period people lived along small tributary streams that flow into the Missouri Valley. Later, Woodland Period people (500 B.C. – 1,000 A.D.) lived in the area. More recent inhabitants include the Ponca, Yankton Sioux and Omaha tribes in the late 18th and 19th centuries. The Minnesota Santee Sioux arrived on the river shore in the mid-1800's and remain in the area.

In 1804, while traveling up the Missouri River on their epic journey to the Pacific Ocean, Lewis and Clark participated in a Grand council with the Yankton Sioux at a site below Calumet Bluff. This significant meeting was the first meeting with a Sioux tribe on their journey upstream. The Lewis and Clark Visitor Center now stands on historic Calumet Bluff.

In 1874, the Bon Homme Colony of Hutterites, a branch of the Mennonite movement exiled from Austria, settled on what is now the shore of Lewis and Clark Lake. They are the first Hutterite Colony in South Dakota and the United States. The colony maintains a traditional communal way of life.

Nearby Yankton was the first territorial capital of the Dakota Territory from 1861 to 1883 and was a major steamboat landing until 1881. Since then, Yankton has grown into a regional business and health care community, and with the creation of Lewis and Clark Lake, has become a major recreation destination.

Gavins Point Dam was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1944, commonly called the Pick-Sloan Plan. Ground was broken at the damsite on May 18, 1952, in a ceremony attended by Lieutenant General Lewis Pick, then Chief of Engineers, and the Governors of South Dakota and Nebraska. Construction began immediately and in September 1956 the Powerplant began producing electricity for customers. The total cost of the dam totaled just under $50 million. Yearly benefits from the dam are estimated at $35 million dollars.

Lewis and Clark Lake attracts more than 2 million visitors each year to its shores. Recreation opportunities around the lake include camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, boating, sailing, swimming, bird-watching, and photography.

For the biking and hiking enthusiasts, three trails are available in the area. They include a paved trail that runs from Yankton to the Gavins Point area, a multi-use trail in the Gavins Point area and the Calumet Bluff hiking trail located near the visitor center. Wintertime activities include ice fishing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and sledding.

Developed public camping areas surround the lake above and below Gavins Point Dam. Camping facilities provided by the Corps and the States of South Dakota and Nebraska include campsites with electricity, modern restrooms, playground equipment and trailer dump stations.

Great year-round fishing opportunities attract thousands of anglers to the lake area. Fishing piers for the physically challenged are located on the south shore of Lake Yankton and in the Nebraska Tailwaters area.

Residents of South Dakota or Nebraska with valid fishing licenses may fish anywhere on either side of the Missouri River, Lewis and Clark Lake and Lake Yankton.

Nonresidents fishing in Nebraska and South Dakota are required to have a nonresident license and may fish anywhere at Lewis and Clark Lake, Lake Yankton and along the Missouri River along the South Dakota border waters except from Gavins Point Dam downstream for 0.6 miles.  

4 miles west of Yankton, SD on Highway 52, south across the dam

13 miles north of Crofton, NE on Highway 121

The Lewis and Clark Center is located atop Calumet Bluff just downstream from the Gavins Point Powerplant. The visitor center provides a spectacular view of Lewis and Clark Lake, Gavins Point Dam and the Missouri River.

Exhibits in the center include information and displays about the development of the entire Missouri River Basin as well as the geology, exploration, early navigation, settlement and natural history of the Missouri River region. The Calumet Bluff Theater programs highlight construction of Gavins Point Dam, the Lewis and Clark Expedition and wildflowers.

A bookstore offers books about Lewis and Clark, Native Americans, pioneers, river travel and natural history. The Dorian Prairie Garden located outside the visitor center depicts common prairie plants and explains their uses by Native Americans. Stop by the Lewis and Clark wayside exhibits adjacent to the parking area to learn about the travels of the Lewis and Clark Expedition through this area.

Visitor Center Hours:

Memorial Day to Labor Day:   

  • 7 days a week : 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Off-season Hours:

  • Monday – Friday:  8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

  • Closed Federal holidays

  • December – February:  Call 402-667-2546 for days and hours. 

Due to construction at the powerplant, tours are canceled through mid-June 2014.  The construction consists of non-routine maintenance and upgrades and staging work will take place in locations generally reserved for public tours. Once construction concludes, public tours will resume.

 

Gavins Point News Releases

Flood repairs on Gavins Point Spillway will result in one lane road closure

4/18/2014
Flood repair work on Gavins Point Spillway near Yankton, S.D. will cause one lane of the spillway road to be closed into the fall.

Gavins Point releases will divert to spillway beginning March 26

3/25/2014
Due to maintenance and repairs at the Gavins Point Dam power plant, water releases, which normally run through the powerhouse, will be diverted to the spillway beginning Wednesday, March 26. "We are releasing the same amount of water that we normally would. The difference is, it will be more visible to the public because we will be using the spillway instead of the powerhouse," said Dave Becker, Operations Project Manager for Gavins Point.

Lewis and Clark Visitor Center closed for special events

2/26/2014
The Lewis and Clark Visitor Center near Yankton, S.D. will be closed the following days: Friday, Feb. 28, Thursday, Mar. 6 from 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m., and Tuesday and Wednesday, March 18 and 19.

Tours of Gavins Point power plant canceled due to construction

2/14/2014
Tours at the Gavins Point power plant, near Yankton, S.D., are cancedled through mid-June due to construction

Lewis and Clark Visitor Center opens

1/29/2014
The Lewis and Clark Visitor Center, in Yankton, S.D. at the Gavins Point Dam will reopen Monday, Feb. 3. Hours will be Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The center is located on Nebraska Highway 121 near Crofton, Neb.

Bald Eagle Days at Gavins Point Dam scheduled for Jan. 25 and 26

1/13/2014
Bald Eagle Days, sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Park Service, is set for Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 25 and 26 at the Lewis and Clark Visitor Center at Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, S.D. The programs will be at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. 3 p.m. each day and are free to the public. The programs will feature several live raptors, including a Bald Eagle. Each program is limited to 70 people.