• An explosion of light as the sun strikes the waters of the Missouri National Recreational River

    Missouri

    National Recreational River SD,NE

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Missouri National Recreational River?
It is a National Park unit though not in the traditional sense. The park consists of two relatively free flowing stretches of the Missouri River:

  • 59 mile reach that was designated in 1978, stretches from just below Gavins Point Dam to Ponca, Nebraska
  • 39 mile reach which was designated in 1991, stretches from below Fort Randall Dam to Running Water, South Dakota. This reach also includes the lower 20 miles of the Niobrara River and 8 miles of Verdigre Creek.

The park's land base is quite small with approximately 300 acres. The staff of the park work with a number of federal, state and local partners to manage these incredible stretches of North America's longest river.

Where can I camp?
The National Park Service operates no campgrounds at Missouri National Recreational River. The following options are available to MNRR visitors:

  • To camp at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sites call 1-877-444-6777 or go online at the National Recreation Reservation Service web site. The Corps campgrounds are Cottonwood and Nebraska Tailwaters, both located in Nebraska. Reservations may be made at least 4 days and up to 6 months in advance.
  • To camp at State of South Dakota sites (north side of Lewis and Clark Lake, Chief White Crane on Lake Yankton, and Pierson Ranch) call 1-800-710-2267 or go online at CampSD.com.
  • To camp at State of Nebraska sites (south side of Lewis and Clark Lake as well as at Ponca and Niobrara state parks) call 402-471-1414 or go online at http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/.
  • More links are available on our campgrounds page.

Where can I rent a boat or canoe?
There are several locations. Go to our outfitters page for a listing.

Where can I see bald eagles?
One of the best places is at the Lewis and Clark Visitor Center at Gavins Point Dam. Depending on weather, eagles begin arriving early to mid-December and stay until mid to late-February. Another location is at the overlook below Fort Randall Dam at the western end of the MNRR.

Can I use my South Dakota (Nebraska) fishing license on the Nebraska (South Dakota) side of the river?
Yes. The Missouri River, including Lewis and Clark Lake, is considered border waters and a person with a resident license from Nebranka or South Dakota may fish from boat or bank with hook and line. Length and possession limits follow whichever of the state regulations are more restrictive. For regulations regarding residents of other states with non-resident licenses, stop by the Lewis & Clark Visitor Center overlooking Gavins Point Dam.

Where can I obtain a Golden Age/Access Passport?
Both passes have been discontinued and replaced by the America the Beautiful -- The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass -- Senior Pass and Access Pass.

The $10 Senior Pass (62 and older) is a lifetime pass available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents. It is available only in-person at entrance or visitor centers. It is available at the Lewis and Clark Visitor Center.

The Access Pass is available to citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. who have been determined to be blind or permanently disabled. It is available only in-person at entrance or visitor centers. It is not available at the Lewis and Clark Visitor Center.
All Golden Age and Golden Access Passports will remain valid until they expire or are lost or stolen.

The Center also sells the Interagency Annual Pass for $80. It is valid for 12 months from time of purchase. To learn more click on this link to our Fees page...

Where can I buy a South Dakota or Nebraska state park permit?
For South Dakota, one can buy a park permit online at www.sdgfp.info/Parks or at the headquarters office at Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area (Midway Unit). Call 605-668-2985 for more information.

For Nebraska, one can buy a park permit at http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/ or at Lewis and Clark Lake State Recreation Area (Weigand-Burbach Unit). Call 402/388-4169 for more information.

Why are personal watercraft (jet skis) prohibited on park waters?
Missouri National Recreational River is both a unit of the National Park System (like Yellowstone NP and Gettysburg NMP) and a part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The National Park Service banned personal watercraft on the waters of the National Park System effective April 20, 2000. (More info) There are only a few exceptions to this nationwide ban.

Do you have a Junior Ranger program?
Yes, we do! Call 402-667-2546 or stop in at the Lewis and Clark Visitor Center for more information. Go to our Kids' Page for puzzles and links to our Junior Ranger program and other activities.

Where can I get my National Parks Passport book stamped?
You can get your book stamped at the park's primary visitor contact point, Lewis & Clark Visitor Center. Stamps are also at Niobrara State Park, Ponca State Park, and at the MNRR headquarters office at 508 East 2nd Street in Yankton.

Did You Know?

Steamboats after 1881 Flood

The average lifespan of a Missouri River steamboat was 5.7 years. Twenty percent of these boats sank before their third season. More...