10 Tallest Dams In The United States

A dam refers to a massive structure that has been constructed across a flowing river or a stream to retain the flow of water. The reservoirs that are created by these dams help to control floods and provide water for several purposes, including irrigation, industrial uses, navigation, and drinking. The dams also help in generating hydroelectricity. Over the years, the United States has constructed several dams throughout the country. It is to be noted that due to the much steeper and rugged topography, most of the taller dams in the US are located on the country’s western side. The following article discusses the 10 Tallest Dams in the United States.

1. Oroville Dam - 770.5ft

Aerial view of the Oroville Dam on the Feather River in Oroville, California
Aerial view of the Oroville Dam on the Feather River in Oroville, California. Image Credit: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The 770.5ft tall Oroville Dam is the tallest dam in the United States. Oroville Dam is an earthen embankment dam that has been constructed on the Feather River, situated to the east of Oroville at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in the state of California. The dam has led to the formation of the second-largest reservoir in the state – Lake Oroville, which has a total capacity of 3,537,577 acre-feet. The main purpose of the Oroville Dam is water supply, hydroelectricity production, and flood control.

2. Hoover Dam - 726ft

Aerial view of the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River
Aerial view of the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River. 

The 726ft tall Hoover Dam is the second-tallest dam in the United States. Hoover Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam that has been constructed on the Colorado River’s Black Canyon on the boundary between Arizona’s Mohave County and Nevada’s Clark County. The dam has created the country’s largest reservoir – Lake Mead which has a total capacity of 28,537,000 acre-feet. The dam’s principal purpose is flood control and the generation of hydroelectric power. Being a significant tourist attraction, the Hoover Dam attracts over 1 million tourists annually.

3. Dworshak Dam - 717ft

Dworshak Dam, Idaho
Dworshak Dam, Idaho. 

The 717ft tall Dworshak Dam is the third-tallest dam in the United States. Dworshak Dam is a concrete gravity dam that has been built on the North Fork Clearwater River in Idaho’s Clearwater County. The dam has led to the formation of the Dworshak Reservoir, which plays a vital role in the generation of hydroelectricity and control of floods. The Dworshak Dam is also the Western Hemisphere’s tallest straight-axis concrete dam.

4. Glen Canyon Dam - 710ft

Glen Canyon Dam and Power Station near Page, Arizona
Glen Canyon Dam and Power Station near Page, Arizona. 

The 710ft tall Glen Canyon Dam is the fourth tallest dam in the United States. Glen Canyon Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam that has been built on the mighty Colorado River in the northern portion of Arizona. The dam has led to the formation of Lake Powell, which is one of the country’s largest man-made reservoirs. The 387m long and 210m high Glen Canyon Bridge is also considered one of the highest bridges in the nation as well as in the entire world.

5. New Bullards Bar Dam - 645ft

A view of the New Bullards Bar Dam
A view of the New Bullards Bar Dam. Image Credit: J.smith via Wikimedia Commons

The 645ft tall New Bullards Bar Dam is the fifth tallest dam in the United States. New Bullards Bar Dam is an adjustable radius concrete arch dam that has been constructed on the North Yuba River, close to the town of Dobbins in California’s Yuba County. The New Bullards Bar Dam led to the creation of the New Bullards Reservoir, which has a total capacity of 969,600 acre-feet. The dam’s main purposes include generating hydroelectric power and providing water for drinking and irrigation.

6. New Melones Dam - 625ft

The New Melones Lake created by the New Melones Dam
The New Melones Dam created the New Melones Lake. 

The 625ft tall New Melones Dam is the sixth tallest dam in the United States. The New Melones Dam is an earthen embankment dam that has been built on the Stanislaus River at the boundary between California’s Calaveras and Tuolumne County. The New Melones Dam has led to the formation of the state’s fourth-largest reservoir – the New Melones Lake, which has a capacity of 2,400,000 acre-feet. The reservoir provides water for hydropower generation, flooding regulation, and recreation activities, as well as irrigation water for the agricultural sector.

7. Mossyrock Dam - 606ft

Mossyrock Dam
Mossyrock Dam. Image Credit: Allan J. Cronin via Wikimedia Commons

The 606ft tall Mossyrock Dam is the seventh tallest dam in the United States. The Mossyrock Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam that has been built on the Cowlitz River close to the city of Mossyrock in Washington’s Lewis County. The Mossyrock Dam has formed the Riffe Lake, which has a capacity of 1,685,000 acre-feet. Being the tallest dam in Washington, Mossyrock Dam, along with its hydroelectric power station, provides more than 40% of the electric supply of Tacoma Power.  

8. Shasta Dam - 602ft

Shasta Dam
Shasta Dam

The 602ft tall Shasta Dam is the eighth tallest dam in the United States. The Shasta Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam that has been constructed across the Sacramento River in the northern portion of California. The Shasta Dam has led to the creation of Shasta Lake, which is the state’s largest reservoir with a total capacity of 4,500,000 acre-feet. Shasta Lake serves several purposes, including saving water for long-term water storage, flood control, hydroelectricity generation, and a shield against saline water interference.

9. New Don Pedro Dam - 585ft

Lake Don Pedro and the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains, California
Lake Don Pedro and the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains, California. 

The 585ft tall New Don Pedro Dam is the ninth tallest dam in the United States. The New Don Pedro Dam is an earthen embankment dam that has been built across the Tuolumne River in California’s Tuolumne County. The New Don Pedro Dam has led to the formation of the Don Pedro Reservoir, which has a total capacity of 2,030,000 acre-feet.

10. Hungry Horse Dam - 564ft

The Hungry Horse Dam in Montana
The Hungry Horse Dam in Montana. 

The 564ft tall Hungry Horse Dam is the tenth tallest dam in the United States. The Hungry Horse Dam is an arch dam that has been constructed on the South Fork Flathead River in Montana’s Flathead National Forest. The Hungry Horse Dam has created the Hungry Horse Reservoir, which has a total capacity of 3,467,179 acre-feet. The dam’s main purpose is to provide water for irrigation, flood control, navigation, streamflow regulation, hydroelectric generation, and recreational activities. The dam provides water for the western United States and attracts many tourists due to its scenic natural views.

 20 Tallest Dams In The United States

Rank Name State(s) Height (Feet) Height (Meters) Year Constructed
1 Oroville Dam CA 770.5 234.8 1968
2 Hoover Dam AZ, NV 726 221 1936
3 Dworshak Dam ID 717 219 1973
4 Glen Canyon Dam AZ 710 220 1966
5 New Bullards Bar Dam CA 645 197 1969
6 New Melones Dam CA 625 191 1979
7 Mossyrock Dam WA 606 185 1968
8 Shasta Dam CA 602 183 1945
9 New Don Pedro Dam CA 585 178 1971
10 Hungry Horse Dam MT 564 172 1953
11 Grand Coulee Dam WA 550 170 1942
12 Seven Oaks Dam CA 550 170 2000
13 Ross Dam WA 540 160 1949
14 Trinity Dam CA 538 164 1962
15 Yellowtail Dam MT 525 160 1967
16 Cougar Dam OR 519 158 1964
17 Swift Dam WA 512 156 1958
18 Flaming Gorge Dam UT 502 153 1964
19 New Exchequer Dam CA 490 150 1967
20 Fontana Dam NC 480 150 1944
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