Much of the eastern border of the Great Plains is delineated by rivers: there’s the Red River up between North Dakota and Minnesota, the Big Sioux River between South Dakota and Minnesota, and the Missouri River, which flows along the eastern border from Sioux City (South Dakota/Nebraska/Iowa) until Kansas City (Kansas/Missouri). As you might expect, driving the eastern border of the Great Plains is considerably more scenic than other routes might be – thanks to these rivers and the unique geologic features they have helped create.
One common route along these rivers is the drive between Kansas City and Sioux Falls. Following the route of the Missouri River until it meets the Big Sioux River, and then continuing north, this route may be primarily interstate driving – but it’s surprisingly interesting if you want to make a road trip out of it.
Whether you’re driving between Kansas City and Sioux Falls (or vice versa) for business or pleasure, there’s a lot to know about the route – and some cool places to stop. Read on to discover the distance, travel time, and other travel advice you need to have an adventure on the eastern edge of the Great Plains.
In this post, I promote travel to a route that crosses the traditional lands of the Bdewakantuwan (Mdewakanton), Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, Washtáge Moⁿzháⁿ (Kaw / Kansa), Umoⁿhoⁿ (Omaha), Yankton, 𐓏𐒰𐓓𐒰𐓓𐒷 𐒼𐓂𐓊𐒻 𐓆𐒻𐒿𐒷 𐓀𐒰^𐓓𐒰^(Osage), and other peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
Kansas City to Sioux Falls Drive Distance
As the crow flies, the distance between Kansas City and Sioux Falls is 325 miles one way. Unlike other road trips, the drive between Kansas City and Sioux Falls covers almost the same length.
It is roughly 360 miles between Kansas City and Sioux Falls along I-29N. Keep in mind the distance you’ll cover on the drive between Kansas City and Sioux Falls will vary depending on your start and end points within each city.
Sioux Falls and Kansas City Drive Time
In terms of travel time by car, the nonstop drive between Sioux Falls and Kansas City takes approximately 5 hours and 30 minutes. Remember, this is just an estimated number, as your final drive time depends on where you start in Kansas City and end in Sioux Falls.
As you can see, the drive from Kansas City to Sioux Falls is relatively short. While you can make it without any stops, I suggest you extend the drive by two hours and add a few cool pit stops along the way.
7 Stops to Make on Your Drive Drive between Kansas City and Sioux Falls
If you’ve already decided to make the drive from Sioux Falls to Kansas City, here are seven stops worth making on your road trip.
Liberty Memorial, located in Kansas City, pays homage to the soldiers who served in World WWI in defense of liberty and our country. The memorial features a museum that houses the world’s most comprehensive WWI collection. Visitors can access the tower to enjoy panoramic views of the Kansas City skyline. The tower juts out 217 feet above the main courtyard and 268 feet above the North Lawn.
The Pony Express Museum
Photo credit: Americasroof (R) via Wikimedia Commons
While it is fascinating how far communication technologies have advanced, it’s even more fascinating to see how people managed to communicate before emails and iPhones existed. The Pony Express Museum is a transport museum documenting the history of the Pony Express, the first fast mail line across the North American continent from the Missouri River to the Pacific coast.
The exhibits contain information about how The Pony Express began, who the investors were, and the main characters of this story, the brave riders who carried the mail.
Glore Psychiatric Museum
The Glore Psychiatric Museum is a fascinating and horrific place – it turns out mental health treatments have been quite inhumane. Spanning four floors, the museum explores the history of psychiatric care in the U.S. as well as the history of this specific psychiatric museum.
The exhibits display many instruments doctors used to perform procedures on mentally ill patients. Many exhibits also show pictures of the patients and describe their disorders.
World’s Largest Ball of Stamps
The Leon Myers Stamp Center houses the World’s Largest Ball of Stamps in its gift shop. The sphere is 32 inches in diameter, weighs 600 pounds, and contains over 4,655,000 canceled stamps. Its history dates back to 1953 when Boys Town Stamp Collecting Club members started sticking the ball together. By July 1955, the Ball had reached its current size and even got a mention in the newspaper column of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.
Whether you have any religious interests or not, Trinity Heights is a lovely place to stretch your legs on the Sioux Falls to Kansas City drive. Trinity Heights is a religious site located in Sioux City.
The complex is famous for its larger-than-life statues of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Queen of Peace and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. There’s also a life-sized sculpture of the Last Supper. Visitors can wander around the grounds and gardens. They’ll find numerous nooks and benches to sit and admire nature.
National Music Museum
Photos courtesy of the National Music Museum
The National Music Museum is on the campus of the University of South Dakota campus, about 7 miles west of Highway 29. It’s worth a detour if you enjoy the history of musical instruments and their making of them.
Founded in 1973, the National Music Museum is worldwide famous for housing a collection of over 15,000 American, European, and non-Western instruments from all cultures and historical periods. You’ll discover musical instruments that you had no idea existed. While the exhibitions focus more on musical instruments’ history, a few sections are devoted to musicians and their life stories.
Falls Park is a must-stop on the Kansas City to Sioux Falls drive. The park contains the marvelous falls that have given the city, Sioux Falls, its name. With over 128 acres, it is the perfect place to let your kids get some exercise and learn about the early history of Sioux Falls.
The Big Sioux River runs through the park, and an average of 7400 gallons of water drop 100 feet over the course of the Falls each second. There are scenic locations and viewing points, including the five-story observation tower and the overlook cafe, which sells delicious ice cream.
Other Tips for Your Drive Between Kansas City & Sioux Falls
Now that you know the basics of the drive and are inspired to make a few stops, here are some final tips to help you finish planning your road trip:
- The route between Kansas City and Sioux Falls crosses five states – including two outside the Great Plains: Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota.
- There are several larger cities along the route, including St. Joseph (MO), Omaha, Council Bluffs (IA), and Sioux City (IA).
- If you’re looking for a good halfway point to stop for a few hours or overnight, consider Omaha, which is 3 hours from Kansas City and 2 hours, 50 minutes from Sioux Falls.
- There are also plenty of rest stops and commercial truck stops to choose from along the way, and plenty of gas stations and truck stops along I-29 if you need fuel, toilets, snacks, or other services.
Should You Fly Between Sioux Falls and Kansas City Instead?
Some people may wonder if it’s worth making the drive between Sioux Falls and Kansas City or if flying between the cities is more convenient. The truth is that there’s no right answer. It always helps to look at two variables to make the final call: cost and time.
Cost-wise, you can spend around $130 to make the drive between Kansas City and Sioux Falls. When flying, ticket prices start at $200 for a one-way trip.
The non-stop drive between Sioux Falls, and Kansas City takes 5 hours and 30 minutes. However, it will extend a couple more hours if you add detours. When flying, the total travel time is 2 hours and 27 minutes.
As you can see, the Sioux Falls to Kansas City drive will not be a suitable alternative for time-constrained travelers. But if you have time for a bit of adventure, it’s definitely worth it!
Have any other questions about making the drive between Kansas City and Sioux Falls – or reverse? Let me know in the comments!