Sheep Creek Dam State Recreation Area is a super place to camp that offers plenty of shoreline along Sheep Creek Dam, great fishing, and five campsites with electric hookups for RVs. Located four miles south of Elgin, North Dakota, the recreation area was created in 1967 with the building of Sheep Creek Dam. The 85-acre reservoir has a maximum depth of 40 feet and an additional 283 acres surrounding the lake that were set aside in 1970. The land surrounding the state recreation area is predominantly agriculture, so don’t be surprised if you see plenty of sheep grazing in nearby grasslands.
Sheep Creek Dam State Recreation Area was originally the homeland of numerous Plains Indians Tribes including the Arikara and Mandan tribes. The tribes made contact with Lewis and Clark during the Corps of Discovery Expedition in the early 1800s. In 1823, the Arikara War pitted the Plains Indian Tribes against early settlers in the region, and the tribes were included in the 1830 Indian Removal Act. The Mandan tribe suffered tremendous losses when a small pox epidemic in 1837 hit the region. The region began developing after the Homestead Act of 1862 and the railroad arrived in Elgin in 1910.
Today, Sheep Creek State Recreation Area is a haven of outdoor activities including excellent fishing, boating, and swimming. Winter time is ideal for ice fishing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. There is a campground with 10 campsites including five with electric hookups for rigs.
The weather at Sheep Creek Dam State Recreation Area is nice with summer time temperatures in the low 80s with up to three inches of rain per month. Winter time temperatures fall to the mid-20s accompanied by up to eight inches of snowfall per month.
RVs can access Sheep Creek Dam State Recreation Area at the intersection of Elgin Road, also known as 68th Avenue Southwest, and 74th Street Southwest. Traveling from Elgin you will head south on Elgin Road which is a dirt road. While driving you will experience typical problems associated with dirt roads such as flying rocks and mud when it is raining. There are numerous curves to be mindful of when driving along Elgin Road that may prohibit your rig from reaching the posted speed limit. High winds may also hamper your traveling speed. Use the shoulder of the road if necessary to avoid flying rocks from oncoming traffic.
Once inside the recreation area you will encounter congestion at the northern end of the park where the boat launch is located. The one dirt road that travels through the recreation area can be tricky when raining. The amount of RVs parked and camped will determine the difficulty and congestion within the recreation area. Near the campground you will need to navigate a couple loops while searching for a campsite. The road continues south through the recreation area the total length of Sheep Creek Reservoir. While driving in the recreation area you will need to share the road with pedestrians, bicyclists, and children playing near their campsites. Please adhere to all posted speed limits.
The Sheep Creek Dam State Recreation Area Campground is situated along three loops connected by one road and contains 10 campsites, including five with electric hookups for RVs. The campground is a minute walk from Sheep Creek Reservoir on the northern plains grasslands and offers little shade, privacy, or protection from high winds. RVs are not limited in size and self-contained camping units may park where they wish if there is not a campsite available. Campsites are furnished with a fire ring and some campsites have a covered picnic table. RVs can fill their water tanks onsite but there is no dump station located in the recreation area. Rigs can dump their holding tanks in Elgin before driving to the recreation area. The campground does not offer many amenities but there is one water spigot and one vault toilet. Campers are limited to a five-day consecutive stay. There is no fee for camping but donations are encouraged. Generators may be used from 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. Pets must be restrained by a six-foot leash at all times. This recreation area campground is open from May until October.
The most popular thing to do in Sheep Creek Dam State Recreation Area is fishing. Serious anglers will always have their rod and reel in their rig ready to catch the big one. Sheep Creek Reservoir boasts 84 acres of surface water with a maximum depth of 34 feet. You can expect to catch plenty of small and largemouth bass, rainbow and brown trout, bluegill, and walleye. There is a boat ramp and two fishing piers to help you catch the big one. Please check North Dakota fishing regulations for bag and size limits.
Water sports are a perfect thing to do in Sheep Creek Dam Recreation Area. If you have your kayak or canoe on your RV, then exploring the reservoir is a great idea. Sheep Creek Reservoir is a no wake lake which makes boating enjoyable for those looking for a quiet cruise on the water. There is a boat ramp to launch your watercraft at the northern end of the reservoir. Swimming is also popular at the reservoir during the summer months with several areas along the shoreline that offer a sandy beach and there are some cliffs that you can dive from into the water.
Take your bike on your rig and try out mountain biking on the extensive dirt road that travels through the park. The road offers more than three miles of peddling through the undulating northern grasslands and there are a few spots where you can go off-road on your bicycle. Riding the shoreline of Sheep Creek Reservoir boasts an interesting area where bikers will be challenged by the terrain. While you are peddling be mindful of sharing the road with motorized vehicles and always where a helmet.
Although the campground is closed in the winter, there are still plenty of activities once the snow starts to fly. Snowmobilers take advantage of deep snow and the open undulating northern grassland terrain. Cross-country skiers have a blast gliding on the snow packed gravel roads within the recreation and the reservoir is also popular for ice skating. Ice fishing is another option for winter time fun with plenty of opportunities to catch walleye, trout, and bass.
Hunting at Sheep Creek Dam State Recreation Area is ideal during the fall months when the neighboring grasslands turn into bright orange, brown, and yellow. Hunters with campers or trailers prefer to make the recreation area their base camp while searching for numerous species of birds to bring home. You can expect to find wild turkeys, pheasant, mourning doves, and plenty of species of ducks and geese migrating south for the winter. Please check North Dakota hunting regulations for bag limit and seasons. Never hunt on private land without the landowner’s consent.
Campground games are always a good way to pass time when you are in the outdoors. There is plenty of open space at Sheep Creek Dam State Recreation Area for you to play a baseball game, throw a frisbee around, fly a kite, or throw some horseshoes. Other possibilities include lawn darts, painting a picture of the natural landscape, or you can always just relax and soak up the atmosphere. Many campers will have board games in their rig to pass the time with and there is always a chance for great star gazing once the night skies turn dark.