Lake Sakakawea North Dakota

Lake Sakakawea is a reservoir located in the basin of the Missouri River in Central North Dakota. Named after Sakakawea, a Shoshone-Hidatsa woman who was essential to the success of the Lewis and Clark expedition is the third biggest man-made lake in the US. The lake is located 80 km from Bismarck, North Dakota. It averages between two to three miles in width and six miles at its widest point.

The lake itself is one of the three largest man-made reservoirs in the nation. It has a surface area of about 368,000 acres and is 178 miles long, reaching to Williston ND. As part of the Missouri River system, the reservoir was created in the 1950s with the completion of Garrison Dam, one of six main-stem dams built and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for flood control, hydroelectric power, navigation, and irrigation.

Lake Sakakawea marks the maximum point of glaciation during the ice age. The lake reservoir was built the same time Garrison Dam was completed in 1956. The creation of this lake displaced the members of Fort Berthold Indian Reservation who came from Van Hook and Sanish town as well as forcing the creation of “New Town”. An interesting fact is that a proposed name for “New Town” was Vanish, a pun on the name of the previous two towns. Also lost to the lake was Elbowoods. The three towns lost are commemorated through the names of the campground sections in the park.

Located on the south shore of Lake Sakakawea, adjacent to Garrison Dam, Lake Sakakawea State Park offers a wide range of water-based recreational activities and facilities. The park has a full-service marina, including boat rentals, convenience store, fishing guide services, and boat and camper storage.

Quick Stats:

  • Maximum water storage: 23.8 million acre-feet (29.4 km³).
  • Maximum water depth: 180 ft (55 m) at the face of the dam.
  • Normal surface area: 307 000 acres (1 240 km²).
  • Normal length: 178 mi (286 km).
  • Normal shoreline: 1 320 mi (2 120 km) .