Where to See Nature’s “Art” Around Sioux Falls

Though Sioux Falls’ tumbling waterfalls are, of course, the city’s best-known natural attraction, they’re far from the only one. The Sioux Falls area — as well as spots within a day trip’s range — overflows with opportunities to see some of nature’s best artwork (as well as a seriously corny take on building decor).

Birds and Trails

South Dakota does not joke around when it comes to encouraging people to enjoy the outdoors. That’s why the state’s Game, Fish & Parks Department teamed up with Sioux Falls parks and rec to build the Outdoor Campus.

Though many people flock to the campus for the outdoor sports classes and other events, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to wander the walking trails while keeping an eye open for some of the birds that fly through (or stay put in) Sioux Falls throughout the year.

The Quartz Source

So, those pinkish-rock buildings around Sioux Falls? They’re made of quartzite — and visitors can go to the original source of much of the rock to see it in its natural form at Palisades State Park. There’s stellar hiking and rock climbing at the park, 25 miles northeast of Sioux Falls. Geologists think some of the quartzite spires date back 1.2 billion years.

Furry Faces

While you probably didn’t expect to see snow monkeys in South Dakota (even though the state does get quite a bit of snow), you can. Yes, snow monkeys! The Great Plains Zoo has one of the United States’ best snow monkey exhibits. Hang out and watch the beauties do their thing. Get a gander at the zoo’s other primate residents, too.

Some of them aren’t quite as pretty as the snow monkeys (the siamang gibbons verge on “a face only a mother could love” territory), but they are all fascinating creatures.

A Zen Moment

There are few experiences more peaceful than watching a butterfly settle down on one’s fingertip or shoulder. Sioux Falls delivers on this experience, too. Spending time in the Butterfly House & Aquarium is like taking a deep, deep breath after a crazy day … or like finally understanding the relaxation that meditation delivers.

Walk into the tropical conservatory (so warm, so comforting), and a new butterfly friend will head your way. Prefer some under-the-sea beauty? Then turn your eyeballs toward the aquariums, where 20,000 gallons filled with brilliant colors and fascinating creatures await. (Ah, the soothing dance of jellyfish!)

Birds Galore

Toss your schedule away because your day is going to the birds. Arrowhead Park‘s old quarries are now placid lakes that provide birds aplenty with their perfect home base. Bring a picnic (but don’t feed the residents, please).

Aw, Shucks

Oh, about that corny delight? Rent a car ’cause you’re going for a drive. The World’s Only Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, sits just 73.5 miles west of Sioux Falls — and seriously, it’s worth the trip.

Built in 1892, the Corn Palace gets an annual art overhaul when its namesake vegetable is used to create huge, themed murals all around the building. Recent themes included “South Dakota Weather” and “America’s Destinations.” Birds dig the whole corn-decor idea, though more for the easy feeding than for the art.