Chasing Waterfalls Downtown Sioux Falls
Chasing Waterfalls at Falls Park Downtown Sioux Falls
Chasing waterfalls at Falls Park in downtown Sioux Falls is an unexpected downtown urban experience. Sioux Falls is the largest city in South Dakota and is a vibrant community with sculpture tours, historical buildings, arts and culture, bars, and restaurants. It’s not an area where you’d expect to find waterfalls but you can in downtown Sioux Falls at Falls Park.
If you’re spending time in Sioux Falls or just passing through, perhaps on your way to the South Dakota Badlands or to a national park like Yellowstone, we recommend a stop at Falls Park. Best of all, it’s free to visit!
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Sioux Falls Namesake
One look at the Falls Park waterfall and it’s easy to understand how the town of Sioux Falls was named. Both the town and the waterfalls of Sioux Falls are named for the Sioux Tribe of Native Americans and the Big Sioux River which is a tributary to the Missouri River. The Sioux Tribe named the waters Minne Waukon, which translates to sacred water.
The Sioux Falls were created over 14,000 years ago by a glacier ice sheet and were fueled by melting glacier ice. Over time, the rushing waters exposed the pink Sioux Quartzite bedrock. The pink color is quite interesting and you’ll notice big pink Sioux quartzite rocks throughout the park stretching from eastern South Dakota and through southwestern Minnesota and northwestern Iowa.
Arrive at sunrise to have the park to yourself. As the sun rises, you’ll notice the different tones in the pink Sioux Quartzite looks as the sun rises and shines against the rocks.
Park Visitor Information Center and Viewing Tower
The Falls Park Visitor Information Center serves as a viewing tower but also a city visitor center where you can grab maps and brochures for your visit to Sioux Falls.
We stand behind our pro tip of arriving at sunrise but a downside of a sunrise visit is not everything will be open for business at this time. In our case, we were there before business hours and were unable to go inside.
Walk the five flights of stairs or take the elevator to the top of the viewing tower. The viewing tower offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the Falls and skyline which was not open for business during our visit. We’ll hit it next time!
Sculptures at Falls Park
Outside of the Observation Tower you can’t help but notice two beautiful sculptures.
Paved Paths & Bridges at Falls Park
The entire park is well-maintained and well-lit and has clean public bathrooms. Paved paths meander around and through the falls area. Sioux Falls has a 29-mile bike paved bike trail that partially runs through Falls Park.
Falls Overlook Cafe
Falls Overlook Cafe is open for lunch, snacks, and ice cream April-December. They offer grab-and-go options or you can order something from the menu. Enjoy cold drinks, coffee, or tea, and also offer alcoholic beverages. Dine inside or grab a seat on the patio to watch the falls tumble over the beautiful pink Sioux quartzite.
The building is a restored 1908 hydroelectric plant.
How Much Time To Plan for Falls Park
Technically, you could spend as little as a few minutes if you just wanted to get out and stretch your legs to enjoy a quick dose of the outdoors. We recommend planning to spend up to a few hours, you’ll be amazed at how time flies. If you like chasing waterfalls, you’ll want to enjoy the different viewing angles throughout Falls Park. Even if you’re just passing through town, this would be a great place for a picnic.
Walk around the remains of the Queen Bee Mill that once operated here at Falls Park. There are interpretive signs located throughout the park explaining various historical information.
Falls Park Farmers Market
If you visit May- October check out the Falls Park Farmers Market. There is a permanent structure for vendors to sell their locally grown goods every Saturday. It would be a perfect Saturday morning to go grab your fresh, locally grown veg and then walk around the falls and listen to and watch the water tumble over the pink Sioux quartzite.
Falls Park Winter Wonderland
During the winter months, Falls Park is decorated in a Winter Wonderland. Falls Park Winter Wonderland features more than one mile of garland, 40 wreaths, 250 decorated trees, 215 decorated light poles, over 23 miles of light strings, and multiple animated lighted features. This would be a festive sight to see!
Best Time To Visit Falls Park in Sioux Falls
We recommend that anytime is the best time to visit Falls Park. As the amount of water flowing over the falls varies throughout the year, it will be interesting to visit anytime throughout the year. Sunrise to sunset will give you a different view of the falls each time you visit.
The park is open daily from 5am – midnight.
Where is Falls Park?
Falls Park is located just off of downtown Sioux Falls. Falls Park sits alongside the Big Sioux River.