US Army Corps of Engineers
Omaha District

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The Oahe Dam has a Visitor Center loacted on the eastern crest of thd dam. The visitor center provides an excellent view of Lake Oahe and the Missouri River. The center provides information about the history, exploration, early navigation, settlement and natural history of Lake Oahe and the Missouri River. Programs highlight construction of the dam, the Lewis & Clark Expedition and the fish of South Dakota.
Located near Pierre, South Dakota, the surge tanks at Oahe Dam are each 70 feet in diameter. There are two tanks per penstock. The surge tanks help regulate water flow to the power house turbines.
Oahe Dam is located near Pierre, S.D. at River Mile 1,072.3. The first of the power house’s seven 89,500-kilovolt generators was put into operation in March 1962. On August 17, 1962, President John F. Kennedy came to the dam and officially dedicated the two generators. The final generator went into operation in June 1963, completing the $340-million Oahe project. By 1966, Oahe Dam was generating over 2 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.

Location: Near Pierre, S.D., River Mile 1,072.3

Lake Oahe is surrounded by mixed grass prairie with trees growing down to the shore in occasional steep draws.

Oahe Dam takes its name from the Oahe Mission established among the Lakota Sioux people in 1874, about eight miles upstream from the present site of the dam. The word "Oahe," roughly translated, means "a foundation" or "a place to stand on."

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The Lakota Sioux were not the first people in the area now called "the land of the Sioux." The Lakotas displaced people of the Arikara tribe, whose earth lodge villages lined the bluffs along the Missouri River in the 18th century. Traces of the fortresses that guarded their villages still remain.

Present day residents include the Cheyenne River Sioux and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribes, which occupy a majority of land on the west side of Lake Oahe.

Significant historical sites surround Lake Oahe, including the Fort Manuel Trading Post where Sacajawea, the Shoshone Indian woman who served as a guide for Lewis and Clark, is said to be buried.

The grave site of the Lakota Sioux Chief Sitting Bull is also nearby, as is the old military post of Fort Sully.

People travel from all over to participate in recreational activities on the 461,000 acres of land and water that comprise the project.

Guests are encouraged to have fun and are reminded that care should be taken to preserve the lands and waters for future visitors. There are 51 recreation areas around the reservoir including highly developed campgrounds and day use areas, moderately developed areas and primitive areas. Recreation opportunities at the lake include camping, picnicking, fishing, hunting, boating, water skiing, swimming, bird-watching, hiking, biking, and photography.

The story of Oahe focuses on people - from the early Native American tribes, to the fur traders and pioneers, to those who manage, operate and use the facility today. All play an important role in shaping and developing this region.

Lake Oahe's 2,250 mile shoreline offers a myriad of opportunities to outdoor recreationists. Swimmers, sightseers, campers and picnickers alike have their choice of outdoor activities. More than 1.5 million visitors enjoy Lake Oahe's recreation facilities each year.

Campers may choose between fully developed campsites with electrical hookups, trailer dump stations and comfort stations and more primitive sites with little or no amenitites. The day-use areas have picnic shelters, tables, grills, drinking water, comfort stations and playground equipment.

Anglers come to Lake Oahe for the great variety of sport fish, especially walleye and Chinook salmon. Other fish species include channel catfish, northern pike, whitebass, small mouth bass, sauger, trout, perch, blue gill and crappie. Concrete boat launching ramps are available at many locations on the lake.

Many of the public lands around the lakes and rivers, except for developed recreation areas, are open to hunting and offer a great place for sportsmen to hunt pheasants, grouse, partridge, turkey, waterfowl and deer. Wildlife management areas around lake and other areas may allow trapping/snaring please refer to the regulations that are established and enforced by the State of North Dakota.  The Corps of Engineers has certain project restrictions for areas it directly operates (buildings, recreation, and day use areas) for hunting, trapping, and snaring.

Highways 1804 and 1806 pass by most of Oahe’s recreation areas from Bismarck, N.D. and Pierre, S.D.

The Oahe Visitor Center is situated on the eastern crest of Oahe Dam. The visitor center provides an excellent view of Lake Oahe and the Missouri River.

The center provides information about the history, exploration, early navigation, settlement and natural history of Lake Oahe and the Missouri River. Programs highlight construction of the dam, the Lewis & Clark Expedition and the fish of South Dakota.

Visitor Center Hours: The Visitor Center is staffed weekdays year-round by South Dakota Missouri River Tourism. 

Memorial Day  to Labor Day: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, including holidays.

Off-season Hours: Weekdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed holidays and weekends)

Memorial Day to Labor Day: 10 a.m., 1 & 4 p.m., seven days a week.

Due to increased security, powerhouse tours begin at the Oahe Visitor Center. Visitors should arrive 15 minutes prior to the tour and visitors over 18 years old must show a government issued photo ID. Tours last up to one hour.

Off-season or for groups of 10 or more: Call (605) 224-5862. Tours are by special appointment only

Oahe News Releases

  • Lake Oahe's Halzelton Recreation area added to

    Hazelton Recreation Area located south of Bismarck, North Dakota, on Lake Oahe has been added to the National Recreation Reservation Service website for advanced reservations. Reservations can be made at or their Toll-Free number 1-877-444-6777 up to 6 months in advance to as little as 2 days in advance through September 5. For the Hazleton Recreation area, the first date campsites are available for reservations is May 26, 2016. Walk-up, first come, first camp reservations are available May 1-May 25 and September 6-September 30.
  • Public comment sought on proposed crude oil pipeline project in North Dakota

    An environmental assessment has been prepared to evaluate potential environmental impacts from construction and operation of a crude oil pipeline across private lands encumbered by federal flowage easements and federal land managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Comments must be postmarked or received by January 8, 2016.
  • Vegetation control to begin on Missouri River sandbars between Garrison Dam and Lake Oahe headwaters, N.D.

    During September, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will conduct vegetation management activities on sandbars in the Missouri River between 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), the Wilton/Steckel boat ramp at river mile 1343.6, and river miles 1364 and 1363 north of Washburn, N.D. will not be sprayed. This work is being done to keep the sandbars free of vegetation and usable by the endangered interior least tern and threatened piping plover for nesting.
  • Be safe, know and follow the rules this upcoming holiday

    With the upcoming holiday, rangers at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recreation areas across the Missouri Basin want to remind the public about a few rules and policies to help prevent fires, drowning, protect public safety and make for overall enjoyable recreation experiences during the holiday weekend and in the future.
  • "Play it safe" at USACE Lakes

    The warmer temperatures are bringing more visitors to recreation areas across the Omaha District. Park Rangers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are reminding visitors to have life jackets for everyone and please wear them. On average, 9 out of 10 people who drowned at a USACE lake or river project didn’t wear a life jacket. Life jackets save lives by keeping you afloat and providing time for rescue.