Scenic Quartzite Trail
If you're in the mood for a road trip that includes a scenic drive combined with opportunties to get out and explore nature and historical sites, this drive is perfect for you. You'll travel through pastoral countryside and small communities as well as South Dakota's largest city, Sioiux Falls. The picturesque Sioux Quartzite outcroppings that you will discover along this route are the oldest geological feature in eastern South Dakota and have been quarried since the 1800s for use in buildings throughout the region. You will have plenty of chances to get out and stretch your legs on this road trip, so bring your walking shoes and a picnic lunch in order to enjoy it to the fullest.
1. Falls Park in Sioux Falls
Falls Park is nestled in the heart of Sioux Falls is within walking distance of the thriving downtown. The Big Sioux River with it's three tiered waterfall, for which the town was named, flows over and through rose quartzite formations. The park has walking/biking trails with bridges, a visitor center with an observation tower (accessible by elevator or stairs), as well as historic ruins of the Queen Bee Mill. The Falls Overlook Cafe, located in a restored 1908 hydroelectric plant, serves up locally produced ice cream and more. (photo by South Dakota Tourism)
2. Arrowhead Park in Sioux Falls
Arrowhead Park is located in eastern Sioux Falls. The park is named after a large, arrowhead shaped granite quarry that is one of three historic quarries that are now lakes in the park. The area is a bird sanctuary—a haven for bird watching. Stones from these quarries were used to build several buildings in downtown Sioux Falls, including the Old Courthouse Museum. The city has developed a network of hiking trails. Be sure to see the restored 1888 barn, which some claim was designed by famous architect Wallace Dow. (photo by Paul Schiller - Acts of Nature)
3. Palisades State Park near Garretson
Palisades State Park, just outside of Garretson and only a short drive from Sioux Falls, is one of the most unique and picturesque parks in South Dakota. Sioux quartzite formations line Split Rock Creek and rise above the water into 50 foot cliffs in some places. King and Queen rock are two of the most unique rock formations. The park is popular with hikers, campers, kayakers and rock climbers. Palisades is one of the few premier rock climbing sites in the Midwest. (photo by Cre8ivtouch - Instagram)
4. Devil's Gulch at Garretson
Just a few miles north, on the other side of Garretson, is Devil's Gulch Park. Stand on the footbridge spanning the chasm of Devil’s Gulch and imagine the pounding of horses’ hooves, gun shots echoing along quartzite rock walls and the shouts of a posse as they pursue outlaw Jesse James. According to local legend, Jesse James' horse jumped this chasm and escaped from the posse. Discover unique rock formations and points of interest such as the Devil’s Falls and the Devil’s Stairway while hiking the scenic trails. There are also a couple of wineries in the area where you can find a place to rest and sample some locally produced wines. (photo by South Dakota Tourism)
5. The Dells at Dell Rapids
Scenic overlooks offer awesome views of The Dells quartzite formations that reach as high as 40 feet above the Big Sioux River at Dell Rapids. A new scenic hiking and biking trail provide easy access to the breathtaking beauty of The Dells. (photo courtesy of Dell Rapids)
Visiting Downtown Dell Rapids is like stepping back in time. It has been preserved in rose quartzite since 1888. The Historic Business District is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and includes a restored 1888 Grand Opera House.
The quartzite used in construction did not have to be brought very far since there was a Quarry on the outskirts of town, for which the annual celebration is named - Quarry Days. (photo by South Dakota Tourism)
Scenic Quartzite Trail Map
If you'd like a Visitor Packet with more fun road trip ideas in Southeast South Dakota, you can request one here.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social distancing. We will continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful even though we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We hope this will inspire your future adventures!