The falls are located in Sioux Falls at the intersection of Falls Park Avenue and Phillips Avenue. The falls can be seen from the parking lot, but you'll want to take a stroll around the beautiful park to enjoy views of the lead-in and trailing rapids, as well as the largest falls.
An online webcam from the park tower (which pans through the park to show a wonderful panorama) is available at SiouxFalls.org.
While various rumors have suggested that it is 'illegal' to run the falls, there appears to be no substantiation of that. Local (park and police) officials generally will do their best to discourage boating here due to the serious nature of the falls, but while the area is posted for "No Swimming", there are no codified sanctions against boating here.
Big falls and park.
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Okay folks... here is the skinny. I have spent several days speaking with local police officers and officials with the Department of Natural Resources, Department of Game, Fish and Parks and the Park Operations Manager and it IS NOT ILLEGAL to kayak the falls.
What is illegal... swimming through this stretch of river. There is an ordinance against swimming due to the inherent danger. Should you take a swim, you could be ticketed.
Important to know: South Dakota has a rule that says if you need rescue, you are responsible for any and all costs involved in providing rescue and medical assistance.
Everyone I have communicated with has tried hard to discourage the idea of running the falls but have admitted that it is not illegal. There are no records of anyone ever being ticketed for kayaking the falls.
I requested that the Parks Operations Manager please inform the park employees of the legality so that paddlers would not be hassled for pulling in and running the stretch. Should someone try to hassle you or prevent you from running the falls, simply request that they contact the Sioux Falls police department and take the issue up with them. At this point, the police officers should be aware of the recent discussions regarding my request and be able to inform the employees at the park to leave you alone.
The next step is for paddlers to show the city of Sioux Falls that we are capable of acting in a safe manner and making appropriate decisions with regard to varying water levels.
The largest waterfall in the center of the run is somewhere between 15-20 feet and there are only a couple spots that appear to provide safe routes. There are many loose, large boulders below that need to be avoided at most water levels. This is easily a class V drop so please use good judgement.
I recommend that paddlers create a campaign to petition the city to support kayaking in Falls Park and to hold an annual event at the park for paddlers. Removing some of the loose rock below the largest fall could create a much safer run and allow for the main fall to be run at a wider variety of water levels.
From the comments below this sounds like the sort of run that AW would do well to support opening up. A big whitewater park in the most whitewater deprived section of the country. Perhaps the authors of the photos and Jackson web site story should write this up for the AW journal and include some of the photos.
The park is cool but your right you will get kicked out and the police called on you if you run the Falls and below. Even though the police were called you are not breaking any city ordinances for running it. The park people just don't like for you to. It was fun while it lasted and ended fine. Nathan and Lauren had a blast and we didn't know we were breaking any rules. It just says no swimming. Not any No Boating signs. Lauren wrote a cool article for the Jackson website and we put pictures up as well. Check it out at www.jacksonkayak.com It's too bad they don't like kayakers to run this wonderful class V section of the river. It would be great for South Dakota to have boaters on the river.
It has been run. The park people will kick you out so put in up stream of the park run the drops and take out before the low head dam which is just downstream of the last chute/drop. There is at least 20 runnable drops in the section of river.
Permits are not required for this reach.
You will walk the shuttle via paths in the park. Ignore the directions below, but you can use the text-entry box to input your home or other starting location to get drive time/distance and directions to this location.
Final drop at 3800 cfs
Main drop at 3800 cfs
First Drop over the diversion dam at 3800 cfs
The main falls at 3800 cfs
Panorama at river left of the main falls at 3800 cfs
Big Sioux River
Big Sioux River
Siuox Falls on Big Sioux River
Big Siuox River at Siuox Falls SD
Falls in the Park
Falls on live video
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