A Guide to Sioux Falls Park

by ilive4travel

Published on Dec 8, 2022

USA

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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. Β 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.

a river with some rocks creating some small waterfalls with a concrete bridge and pillars in the background and some trees around the side of the river

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.

looking from above down onto a park with a river running through it and some waterfalls in the river, there is also grass around the side of the river with a lot of rocks in the grass too and a few trees.  You can see a lot of buildings in the background and a few buildings in the park, there are also a lot of concrete paths running through the grass

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.

a girl stood in front of some small but powerful waterfalls, there is a lot of water flowing through the river and you can see there are a lot of big rocks that have been carved by the river, the girl is stood in front of a railing wearing a black top and blue knee length jeans with her hair tied back
a river cutting through rocks, you can see that the river must be larger at different times of the year, there is also a few waterfalls along the river and grass at the side, to the left are a couple of buildings and a bridge in the background, some of the rocks are a green colour and the rest a lilac colour

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.

a waterfall to the right of the picture between cut through the rocks, there is a building to the left of the picture, built into the side of the river with a wooden structure and around the side of the river is green grass and trees a bit further back

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.

a church lit up in the dark with two identical towers at the sides and a big round window in the middle

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!!

That night was spent researching the next part of my trip to Rapid City with a visit to Crazy Horse, Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park.

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:

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a pin created by ilive4travel about the ultimate guide to Sioux Falls Park showing 2 pictures of small waterfalls in the park

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——-Β  About me ——-

girl sat on some wooden stairs wearing a black jumper

Clare from Ilive4travel

Hi my name is Clare and welcome to ilive4travel.Β  I am originally from the UK but spend most of my time in Peru, the country that caught my heart.

I have visited 73 countries and love to share with you everything I have learnt about these countries in my guides.

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33 Comments

  1. Juliette @ Snorkels to Snow

    I’ve never been there either and don’t know much about the history of Sioux Falls, although have read accounts from other bloggers. Interesting piece of history so thank you for enlightening me! St Joseph’s Cathedral looks very beautiful.

    Reply
  2. Abhinav Singh

    Even I had not heard of Sioux Falls before I stumbled upon this blog. The cathedral looks so beautiful in the night glow. There are so many places which don’t get written about. Thanks to travel bloggers like you, we get to learn about such gems.

    Reply
  3. Suzanne

    Thank you for this post on Sioux Falls. To be honest, traveling the US has never been on my radar but I enjoy living through other people’s experiences vicariously! I really wish you had made it to the church. It looks interesting!

    Reply
  4. Julianne

    So glad to see a post on Sioux Falls! I remember stopping by briefly as a kid before seeing Mount Rushmore. The part you wrote about buses and walking really resonated with me — I’m so used to having public transit available and walking everywhere in NYC that my first question is usually “Where is the bus?” too! In other parts of the country (like in California), we did drive everywhere, even for short trips to the grocery store. Anyway, love your pictures of the falls & hope to get back there as an adult! πŸ™‚

    Reply
  5. Joanna

    I am impressed on how helpful the people from the bus company were. I wouldn’t have thought you can actually call a company to ask for information about a bus. That’s brilliant. The fall looks very pretty and not touristy at all, which it always a plus for me.

    Reply
  6. Grace Dela Cruz

    What a beautiful place! I had never even heard of Sioux Falls and will need to add a visit to my bucket list!

    Reply
  7. Bhushavali

    Oooh… You managed to venture there inspite of the place not being so easy by public transport. That’s a dedication. The landscape looks fabulous and the cathedral looks majestic!

    Reply
  8. Sonja

    Wow I’d never heard of this either but it looks like a really great place to visit! It’s so nice to read about different places and not just the most popular ones. Interesting that they don’t run a bus there, it seems like it would be popular.

    Reply
  9. Eboni Dixon

    I had never heard of this place but it looks very interesting. A unique site!

    Eb x

    Reply
  10. Only By Land

    I think I saw the signs for Sioux Falls whilst on my road trip but never investigated. A 45 minute walk is nothing at all, I can’t believe they didn’t know how to walk there! The falls look beautiful, I would have definitely stopped if I had read this before passing through.

    Reply
    • ilive4travel

      I had an afternoon there as I had to change bus so I decided to find out what there was to do, saw the pictures and as I love waterfalls decided I had to get into the town to see them πŸ™‚

      Reply
  11. Haylee

    I’ve never been to these falls or South Dakota, but this place looks so beautiful. I’d love to see more of the USA, so I might make it to the falls one day πŸ™‚

    Reply
  12. Ingrid

    Even though I had never heard about the place, it sure looks amazing and worth seeing in real life. If I ever get to visit the US, I will make sure to have a short trip here. Thank you for sharing πŸ™‚

    Ingrid

    Reply
  13. Delilah

    Great photos! I’ve never been to Sioux Falls, so reading your journey was very refreshing. The bike trail along the river sounds great, and I imagine the falls at night must be quite a view. Hope you have a good trip!

    Reply
  14. Anisa

    I have not been to that part of the US, but there really is a lot to see. It does sounds like a difficult area to be backpacking though. I don’t blame you for being hesitant to hitchhike, I would have been too.

    Reply
  15. Globalmary

    It sounds like a really fun route to take! It would definitely be something for me πŸ™‚

    Reply
  16. Amanda

    I have to say I am very impressed you made it here. I’m American and never even made it to the state. Seems like an adventure was had getting there and you are right 45 minutes to walk to get somewhere, far too long for an American πŸ˜› You’re pictures are beautiful though, and I think maybe if I do make it to that part of the US I might just stop πŸ™‚

    Reply
  17. Stephanie Fox

    Love hearing about off the normal tourist track things to do. It looks and sounds like such a beautiful place, and great how helpful they were.

    Reply
  18. Ferna

    Oh wow. those are amazing! The photos are promising. Oh well, I also think its hard to do some travel coz of the unavailability of transportation but for me it is still a sure win to see that amazing and brilliant views! Wow! I salute you!

    Reply
  19. Ellis

    I have always wanted to visit the US because of it’s nature. Never heard of the sioux falls before, but definetly a place to add to the list that gets longer and longer πŸ™‚

    Reply
  20. Corinne

    It’s true that people, especially out west don’t walk from place to place. It’s because everything is so far apart. It was great that your hotel was only 45 minutes from the falls. I think the falls look kind of funny, too. I’ve never driven into Sioux Falls. I will have to next time.

    Reply
  21. Travelling Dany

    I can’t believe I’ve been so close and yet I haven’t seen Sioux Falls! I absolutely need to get back and see this in person!

    Reply
  22. Punita Malhotra

    Sometimes you see glorious pictures of places, but they don’t look that glorious in reality. And at times, you see ordinary pictures of places but they look extraordinary when you’re facing them. This is one of those! I’m sure that walk was peaceful and lovely.

    Reply
  23. Sandy N Vyjay

    The Sioux falls really lovely. I missed this on our trip to Yellowstone National Park a couple of years ago. Reading your post and looking at the pictures made me realize what I missed. Hope to get there some day.

    Reply
  24. Tarah

    Oh my gosh my brother used to go to South Dakota State in Sioux Falls! I wish I had known about this when I visited him! Looks beautiful!

    Reply
  25. Viki

    How much time do you recommend there? Any great restaurant tips in the region?

    Reply
    • ilive4travel

      I think you would only need a day to explore the town. I wasn’t there for long enough to find any good restaurants though the cafe at the falls was nice, with a great view.

      Reply
  26. Elena Nemets

    That’s so great finding those hidden place in unusual locations!

    Reply
  27. Dave (Silverbackpacker)

    I am exactly like you. I love to explore any new surroundings on foot. It makes a trip more exciting and eventful and you get to notice things you wouldnt have seen if you had been in a car or on a bus.
    Are there bikes to hire for cycling along the tow path by the river?

    Reply
    • ilive4travel

      Cycling is very popular here, I am sure there must be places to hire bikes though I didn’t have chance to find out.

      Reply
  28. Archana Singh

    I had no idea Sioux Falls were so pretty. I love your pictures and the trip details you shared. I loved your cathedral night picture.

    Reply
  29. Greg

    That looks like such a fun day trip!

    Reply

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