Lake Sharpe begins at Oahe Dam and flows for 80 miles south to the Big Bend Dam at Fort Thompson. The lake covers over 56,000 acres and offers 200 miles of scenic shoreline. Much of the western shore of the lake is within the Lower Brule Indian Reservation, while the Crow Creek Indian Reservation lies along the eastern shore. The lake was named after Merrill Q. Sharpe, the 17th Governor of South Dakota.
The reservoir is most known for the "big bend" created by a 25-mile, nearly circular curve just north of Big Bend Dam. The thin strip of land between the two ends of the Big Bend is known as the Narrows. When Lewis and Clark passed through, they noted an abundance of wildlife here—and the same holds true today. The rugged bluffs that line Lake Sharpe continue to harbor many species of waterfowl and wildlife.
Hunting opportunities include Canadian geese, duck, grouse, pheasant, deer and antelope. Fishermen primarily reel in walleye, sauger, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, white bass and even some trout.
You can experience the raw beauty of this landscape by driving the Native American Scenic Byway. The 101-mile route takes you to the edge of river bluffs, down to the river bottom, and up onto the High Plains where you may catch a glimpse of a tribal buffalo herd.
Big Bend Dam
Located near Fort Thompson, Big Bend Dam is the major earth-rolled dam that creates Lake Sharpe. The lake extends for 80 miles up the Missouri River to Oahe Dam. The dam takes its name from the unique bend in the Missouri River just seven miles upstream. It was the last of the four major dams in South Dakota to be constructed along the Missouri River.
The dam was constructed as part the Flood Control Act of 1944. Construction began in 1959 and the entire project was completed in 1966. The hydroelectric plant generates power for the Missouri River Basin.
The Big Bend Dam Visitors Center is located on Highway 50 near Chamberlain. It is operational mid-May through mid-September. Powerhouse tours are available June through August.