Lake Ashtabula, North Dakota, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Lake Ashtabula.

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Lake Ashtabula visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - Midwest - North Dakota - Southeast -

Lake Ashtabula is located among the gentle rolling prairies of southeastern North Dakota. Stretching 27 miles along the Sheyenne River, Lake Ashtabula offers visitors a wide range of recreation opportunities year round, including fishing, snowmobiling, wildlife viewing, boating, camping, swimming and picnicking.

Lake Ashtabula was created by the construction of Baldhill Dam on the Sheyenne River. The Sheyenne is the largest river in North Dakota that is entirely contained within the state’s boundaries. Authorized by Congress in 1944, Baldhill Dam was constructed to stabilize flows on the Sheyenne River. Completed in 1951, Baldhill Dam provides stable water supply, flood abatement, wildlife habitat and recreation. Additional modifications to the dam were made in later years.

The entire 74 miles of shoreline of Lake Ashtabula are owned and maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Along with maintaining the shoreline, the Corps operates seven recreational areas and 14 separate wildlife areas. The land surrounding the lake is a combination of prairie grassland, woodland and shrubbery which makes wildlife abundant. During the summer months large flocks of white pelicans can be spotted at the lake. The wildlife areas are open to the public for hunting. Visitors can contact the North Dakota Game and Fish Department for more information. Some of the animals in abundance are deer, pronghorn, moose, elk, bighorn sheep, prairie dog, rabbit, fox and mountain lion.

Fishing is very popular on Lake Ashtabula. The Native American word “Ashtabula” means “Fish River”, and is an appropriate name for Lake Ashtabula. The lake has a large number of walleye, yellow perch, northern pike, black bullheads and white bass. North Dakota Game and Fish stocks Lake Ashtabula each year with fingerlings of walleye and northern pike as well as adult yellow perch.

In addition to fishing and hunting, visitors enjoy camping, swimming, boating and cross-country skiing at the recreational areas. All four campgrounds at Lake Ashtabula offer trailer sites with electrical hookups as well as primitive tent sites. There are also three swimming areas around the lake, seven boat-launching ramps, and a number of playgrounds and picnic sites. Cross-country skiing is also available in the winter months at Eggert’s Landing and Mel Rieman recreational areas. The ski trails are groomed and maintained, weather permitting.

Hiking is popular at Lake Ashtabula Lake. The lake offers 35 miles of the North Country National Scenic Trial (NCT), a 4,200 mile hiking trail that travels from Lake Sakakawea to Crown Point, New York. The NCT is a non-motorized trail that has segments reserved for hikers only and other segments that are open for horseback riding and biking.

Visitors also enjoy the sites along the Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway. The Scenic Byway is a 63-mile long motor route starting at Baldhill Dam and traveling south along the Sheyenne River to the town of Lisbon, North Dakota. There are 25 different interpretive stops along the way, which is a great way to enjoy the beauty of Lake Ashtabula.

Whether you are in the mood for a day of fishing or just a relaxing drive, Lake Ashtabula offers activities the whole family will enjoy.

Custom Lake Ashtabula house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Lake Ashtabula

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Playground

Fish species found at Lake Ashtabula

  • Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Walleye
  • White Bass
  • Yellow Perch

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Lake Ashtabula

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Lake Ashtabula photo gallery

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Lake Ashtabula statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: US Army Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 5,234 acres

Shoreline Length: 73 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,266 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 1,245 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,273 feet

Average Depth: 14 feet

Maximum Depth: 42 feet

Water Volume: 70,573 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1949

Drainage Area: 4,138 sq. miles

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