US Army Corps of Engineers
Omaha District Website

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.
Fisherman catches a white bass near the spillway at Gavins Point Project.
A man spends time on the Missouri River below Gavins Point Dam fishing.
Lewis and Clark Visitor Center, Gavins Point Project hosts visitors from all over the country and world. Average annual visitation is around 28,000.
Aerial view of Gavins Point embankment, spillway and powerplant
A sailor is enjoying a beautiful day on Lewis and Clark Lake.
Kayakers spend some time on Lake Yankton at the Gavins Point Project. Lake Yankton is a favorite for kayakers because of the gas motor restriction on the lake

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:

  • Call 402-667-2546 for hours


Powerplant tours have been discontinued until further notice.

Power plant tours are also available year-round for school & civic groups by calling the Visitor Center at 402-667-2546.

A photo ID is required for all ages 17 and older. School and civic groups can make appointments for group tours by calling the Lewis and Clark Visitor Center at 402-667-2546. The following items are prohibited in the power plant:

  • Purses, backpacks, camera bags or bags of any kind
  • Strollers or child carriers
  • Cameras/photography or video cameras/filming
  • Cell phone, fitness watches, smart phones, smart watches or any electronic devices (medical devices ok)
  • Food and drink
  • Weapons, including pocket knives, multi-tools, etc

On this walking tour you will see the generator floor, cable spreading room, a view of the control room and many other points of interest. There is lots of walking and several flights of stairs on the tours, but an elevator is available. Tours last 30-45 minutes.


Power plant tours are also available year-round for school & civic groups by calling the Visitor Center at 402-667-2546.

Tours can be canceled without notice - Please call ahead to verify times.


Gavins Point Dam News Releases

  • Road across Gavins Point Dam closed additional day

    Crest Road, the road on Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD will now be closed from 8 a.m. through 4 p.m. Friday, July 27, 2018 to perform maintenance on the spillway. Originally the work was scheduled to be completed by the 26th, but an additional day will be needed. The public is asked to plan on an alternate route of travel during this time.
  • Partial Gavins Point road closure to have limited impact on traffic

    Maintenance on the street lights across Gavins Point Dam, near Yankton, SD, will cause part of Crest Road to be closed, but will only have limited impact on traffic. The road will be closed on Wednesday, July 11 from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Draft EA for surplus water use at Lewis and Clark Lake, NE available for public comment

    A draft environmental assessment for a surplus water request at Lewis and Clark Lake in Nebraska is currently available for public review. The draft EA evaluates the use of surplus water and the environmental impacts of installing and operating a water intake structure to withdraw 1.33 acre-feet per year for domestic use on private property. Comments must be received or postmarked by July 30, 2018.
  • Crest Road Closed Due to Blizzard

    Crest Road, the road that crosses the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, S.D., will close at 2 p.m.on Friday, April 13 due to the impending blizzard. The road will remain closed until conditions improve. Blowing and drifting snow makes travel across the Crest Road extremely hazardous. It is recommended that all travelers use the Discovery Bridge on Highway 81.
  • Lewis and Clark Visitor Center reopens

    The Lewis and Clark Visitor Center near Yankton, SD, will be reopening effective Tuesday, February 20, 2018. Hours will be Monday – Friday, 8:00 a. m. to 4:00 P.M. The center is located on Nebraska Highway 121 near the Gavins Point Dam.