Green Island Recreation Area

A channel of water against a pure blue sky.
Near River Mile 806 is the 60-acre Green Island Recreation Area.

NPS Photo

Green Island actually never used to be an island! This National Park Service property gets its name from the nearby town of Green Island, Nebraska which washed away during the flood of 1881. The town of Green Island was never rebuilt, but the name and story have persisted.

World War I brought more activity to the Green Island area. German prisoners of war (POWs) were brought to Yankton from Camp Algona in Iowa to work on projects during the late spring/early summer of 1945. The POWs worked to protect the Meridian Bridge and surrounding farmland from erosion caused by the river's pre-dam flow. Pilings were installed west of the Meridian Bridge to force water away from the bridge abutments. The remnants of these pilings can be seen today on the park's land-based trail.

During the last 10 years, Green Island has undergone quite a change. A backwater was restored as a mitigation measure during the construction of the Discovery Bridge. In 2008, the backwater was connected to the main river channel on the downstream end. The flood of 2011 eroded the upstream end of the backwater, creating an island with a flowering side channel. The Missouri National Recreational River acquired the property in 2014.

Aerial view over Green Island with graphic lines showing island boundary and campsite locations.
The side channel between Green Island and mainland are important because they provide invertebrate communities and a low energy environment for fish. This map will be updated soon. Please do not walk under the Discovery Bridge to access the mainland trail.

NPS Photo


Green Island has five primitive campsites with fire rings. Two isolated tent sites on the east side of the island and three adjacent sites on the west side. Fires allowed only in designated fire rings. Island access is by boat only. Please visit the Camping page for rules and regulations.


Green Island Recreation Area has 1.75 miles of mostly flat sand or gravel trails. Access to the island trail and the mainland portion of the property is only by watercraft. Walking under the Discovery Bridge is not allowed.

Last updated: December 14, 2023

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508 East 2nd Street
Yankton, SD 57078


605-665-0209 x21

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