SOUTH DAKOTA: Falls Park, Porter Sculpture Garden, Corn Palace

June 7th ~ Mitchell, South Dakota ~

Falls Park ~ View from observation platform

We had a full day, and I am concerned that we may be stretching Shirley a bit. She is not used to doing this much walking and I can see her getting weary as the day progresses. I don’t want her to overdo it, and get sick or injured, so we will be watching closely.


Joanne, Tim and Shirley on Observation Deck

Our morning started in Sioux Falls, SD. Falls Park is located on the Big Sioux River, and has been the center of life in the region for many years. The Native American people are the first to visit and brought stories of the falls to European explorers. The city was founded here in 1856 and industry developed along the river.

Closer look of the falls and pink rock

According to park literature, “many of Sioux Falls historical buildings are made from Sioux Quartzite. The “pink rock” is the hardest rock, second only to diamonds. The park covers 123 acres. Each second an average of 7,400 gallons of water drop 100 feet over the course of the falls”.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The five-story observation tower is attached to the visitors center and is free. The views from on top are quite impressive.


Joanne at the sculpture garden

The wedding we attended last weekend where our niece became “Mrs Porter” was part of the motivation for us to stop here.

I’m not sure if the sculpture, Wayne Porter, is an artistic genius, an eccentric loner, a strange duck, or a mixture of all of the above.

His sculpture garden is created from a variety of different metal items and scattered over the side of a hill that sits above I-90 and beside a pasture that is home to a herd of cows. It is easy to walk through the area if you are reasonably fit, but do beware of dried cow dung, uneven ground and prairie dog holes.

This is the setting right next door

An early favorite theme was fish and dragons, but now he has moved onto larger creatures with an enormous bull head and horse being among his latest creations.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We spent about half an hour just visiting with the artist while we waited for a golf cart to become available after deciding it might be too treacherous for Tim’s mom.

Shirley and Tim driving the course

Mixed in amongst sculpted vultures, colorful fish, whimsical dragons, and so much more are large hand painted signs with his poetry.

The ballerina was amongst my favorites.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

But probably the crown jewel would be the bulls head.

Bulls Head

Standing 60 feet high, it is the same size as the heads on Mt Rushmore. Weighing in at 25 tons, it took Mr. Porter three years to complete.


Corn Palace

Known around the world as a folk-art wonder, it is located on the prairie of South Dakota. Built in 1892, as a means to draw people to the area, this one-of-a-kind building has been celebrating local agriculture for over 125 years.

Tim and Shirley at the Corn Palace

Each year a new decorating theme is chosen, and the entire outside of the building is redone. The outside is stripped and new corn and grains are put into place. 3,000 bushels of rye, oat heads and sore dock bundles are dried to be used.  Then roughly 325,000 ears of corn are sawed in half and nailed to the building following the artists sketch.


Just a few miles from the Corn Palace, we chose to overnight at Lake Mitchell Campground. It has some lovely trees to provide shade in the heat, and a few spots even have lake views.

Lake Mitchell

GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that we got to share the natural beauty and magnitude of the falls, then examine the quirky and whimsical metal sculptures that Wayne Porter has designed and created before moving on to the elaborate corn decorations found no-where-else-on-earth. We are now in for the night next to beautiful Lake Mitchell. Life is good!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our latest adventure. We hope you will join us!
This entry was posted in RV Life, South Dakota, United States and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to SOUTH DAKOTA: Falls Park, Porter Sculpture Garden, Corn Palace

  1. Ahh! You’re in my state! I’m glad you stopped at the Corn Palace! It was cool to see you describe the sculpture garden. We’ve driven past it many times but have never stopped. If you have any questions about western South Dakota or the roads going westward, let me know! (I live in the Black Hills).


    • Thank you for that kind offer. We are expecting rain later today so will probably stop prior to the Badlands. I do think that the rock is more colorful though when it is wet. Porter Sculpture Garden is not everyone’s taste, but we enjoyed seeing both the whimsy and artistry that went into creating all of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kelly MacKay says:

    Such fun. I have been there….. Thanks for sharing


  3. joliesattic says:

    Wow! You’re getting to see some cool stuff this ear. Thanks for the share.


  4. Darlene says:

    You are certainly showing Shirley a good time. That bull’s head is amazing. Enjoy your time together. xo


  5. sheilsm says:

    Enjoying your travels! Glad you got to visit Falls Park and that the water wasn’t overwhelming due to huge amount of rains prior. We have passed the Sculpture Garden on our way west, but have never stopped to see them. We are currently in Minneapolis and visited the sculpture garden there. We are in town for a wedding!
    Looking forward to your posts about Wall Drug and Badlands National Park. We have camped at the Sleepy Hollow Campground just west of Wall and also two nights in the Badlands (pretty hot during the day)
    Safe travels!


  6. SD is way underrated, I think.


  7. My I have to put this our to do list. Thanks for your description.


  8. We’ve seen the sculpture gardens before, but the bull and some other things can be seen from the highway. I didn’t realize it was as big as the heads on Mt. Rushmore. I’ll be seeing the Corn Palace again at the end of next week. It’s always fun, but when we move to Arizona, all the sights we’ve seen for all these years along the way to Wyoming won’t be on our path any longer. Of course there will be new things to see, but I’ve so enjoyed all these.



  9. exploRVistas says:

    We will be heading through Sioux Falls in a few days, so we may stop and see the falls. Looks like a great park surrounding them! Thanks for posting about them, Joanne.


  10. regularguyadventures says:

    Everyone should see the corn palace once. Classic Americana..


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.