I’m not particularly fond of city parks. I’d much rather find some wilderness to go hike in, but if I’m stuck in a city, a city park is better than no park at all. I can’t say that we were “stuck” in the “City” (town, really) of Sioux Falls in eastern South Dakota, but we did enjoy our time visiting the falls that the city was named after. Falls Park is a popular location for locals to walk and/or visit on their lunch hour, but it is also a nice place to stop by on your way down I-90 or I-29 through South Dakota.
To get to the park from I-90, take exit 400 onto I-229 south. Drive down I-229 for approximately 2.5 miles, and take exit 7 onto E Rice Street. Turn right, and follow E Rice Street for about 1.5 miles. Turn right onto E Falls Park Drive, and drive 0.2 miles. The entrance should be on your left. To get to the park from I-29, you can either go up to I-90 and follow the directions from there (not that much farther, really), or you can take the W Madison Street exit (I believe it’s exit 80), and turn left onto W Madison Street. Drive for 1 mile. Turn right onto W Burnside Street and drive 0.7 miles, and then take a slight left onto W 6th Street. Go 1 mile, and then turn left onto N Philips Avenue for 0.5 miles, then take a right turn onto E Falls Park Drive. The entrance will be on your right.
After you’ve parked your vehicle, I would suggest taking a look at the falls from the side that you’re on first. The paved pathway takes visitors up to several viewing areas, towards a train trestle that spans the Big Sioux River (the children (and grown-up children) in our group were thrilled when a couple of locomotives drove over the trestle while we were practically underneath it!). Then, walk down the path, and go across the footbridge. The other side has great views of the falls, and the viewing areas are closer to the falls themselves. There is also an old mill, and, if you like history, I highly recommend you looking at the signs around the mill—it really is fascinating what the mill was used for, and its different owners and history.
After you’ve had your fill of looking at the falls from the ground, I highly recommend that you climb (or take the elevator) up to the top of the observation platform (free). There is a glassed-in area for those who don’t like heights, and an outside platform for those who don’t mind being a hundred or so feet off the ground. There is also a gift store/information center at the bottom of the tower, and restrooms.
One of the great things about the park is that it’s fairly wheelchair accessible. There are some steps to get to the viewing areas, but a disabled person could still get a nice view of the falls, and take the elevator up the observation tower.
Fees: None (6/10)