Before I travelled to the US, Sioux Falls was not a place I had ever heard of, but as I was visiting a friend in Watertown, South Dakota and then going to Yellowstone National Park, my route took me through Sioux Falls. I had a look on google and saw the pictures of the falls and so I decided I had to get down to the town to see Sioux Falls Park South Dakota while I was passing through.
I said bye to my friend and his wife at a small gas station in Watertown just off the freeway and got the greyhound bus down to Sioux Falls. My next bus across to Rapid City was not until the next day so I had the afternoon & evening to explore downtown Sioux Falls. The bus station is quite far out of town so I booked a motel as near as I could to the bus station so that I wouldn’t have far to walk that night or the next day.
As I started walking the 300 metres to my hotel I noticed that there was no footpath across the bridge crossing the freeway to get to my hotel. I could see the hotel but was like how do I get there as it was a 4 lane busy highway with no footpath!! Luckily in the centre of the road was a divide with a bit of a raised section so I decided that would be a bit safer than walking along the side of the road!!
After about 15 minutes of avoiding cars and trucks I made it to the Motel 6 Sioux Falls, where I checked in and asked reception how to get to the falls in Sioux Falls. I was asked if I had a car to which I replied “No, can I get a bus”, to which I was told, no idea about the buses around here!! “Can I walk” I asked, “Oh no it’s miles away, too far to walk”.
Once I got in my room I rung the local bus company to ask if there were any buses. Luckily I got through to a very helpful guy who told me exactly where the nearest bus stop was and the times of the buses and also how to get back. I then walked the 5 minutes and caught the bus into the town of Sioux Falls.
Sioux Falls is the largest city in the state of South Dakota and was first settled in 1856 around the falls on Big Sioux river which were created around 14,000 years ago during the last ice age. When the railroads arrived in 1880’s the town started expanding to what it is today.
There is a 16 mile bike trail along the river and this is where I got off the bus and started my walk down to the falls park.
Where is Sioux Falls
Falls Park Sioux Falls South Dakota is located in the heart of the city named after it, Sioux Falls in the state of South Dakota, on the east side of the state very close to the border with Minnesota.
Opening times of the Falls Park in Sioux Falls
Sioux Falls Falls Park is open from 9am to 9pm, and in the evening the falls are lit up which is a great sight.
Falls Park Light Show Times
The best place to watch the Falls Park light show is from the 5th floor of the Observation Tower, this is open from 5pm to 9pm during the year. If you are lucky enough to visit after 22 November until early January then you will get to see the winter wonderland with over 350,000 lights.
The Falls Park Light Hours for the Winter Wonderland is nightly from 17th November 2023 to 7th January 2024.
I decided to first visit the Sioux Falls Visitor Center and the Observation Tower, you can climb up the tower for free which is 5 stories high and has amazing views of the falls and the surrounding area.
Sioux Falls Park covers an area of 123 acres with an average of 7,400 gallons of water going through the park each second.
History of Sioux Falls Park
Native Americans were the first people to visit the Sioux Falls with the city of Sioux Falls being established in 1856.
I then decided to walk around the area and see the few buildings remaining on the site and have a closer look at the waterfalls. They are impressive though not as impressive as Niagara Falls or Iguazu Falls. It’s also great to see them at night when they are all lit up.
The Queen Bee Mill
The Queen Bee Mill was opened in 1881, with the main structure being 7 storeys. Left today is only the ruins of the foundations and a replica of the Turbine House. The mill was used to produce wheat flour with water going through the turbine house and forcing the turbine to spin which in turn powered the machinery in the mill.
When it opened it was one of the most advanced mills in America, but unfortunately it closed only 2 years later due to bankruptcy caused by insufficient water and a lack of wheat!!
Several companies tried to make it a success over the years but all failed and in 1929 it was converted into a warehouse before it finally burned to the ground in 1956.
Light and Power Company Building
Before it got dark I decided to stop and have a snack at the cafe overlooking the falls. It was originally built in 1908 and housed 3 hydroelectric generators before it was abandoned in 1974. It was donated to the city in 1977 and has since been renovated and it’s now a great cafe with amazing views.
Do you have to pay to visit Sioux Falls?
No there is no fee for parking or admission, you can also climb the observation tower and see the amazing view for free too.
St Joseph Cathedral Sioux Falls
On the way back to the motel I passed by the St Joseph’s Cathedral which was all lit up, but unfortunately it was shut so I couldn’t explore further. Construction was finished on it in 1919.
I made it back to the hotel in 45 mins, so not really too far to walk!! I didn’t see one person walking though while I was walking back to the hotel!! I guess everyone has cars and they use them for the smallest journeys!!
The next day I made my way back to the bus station and after a bit of a wait, it was back on the greyhound bus and on to my next adventure in Rapid City.
Still planning your trip to South Dakota, then you might find these guides useful:
- What to do in South Dakota
- Visiting Crazy Horse Memorial
- What to do in Badlands National Park
- Visit Mount Rushmore
- Everything you need to visit Custer State Park
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