Embarking on a road trip from Sioux Falls to Denver, or returning the other way, is an adventure filled with a myriad of delightful discoveries. Spanning roughly 600 miles, this journey allows you to encounter an array of landscapes – from the rolling prairies of South Dakota to the breathtaking Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
The open road offers more than just a means to an end; it’s an opportunity to discover charming small towns, witness majestic natural beauty, and create lasting memories. Whether you’re a seasoned road tripper or a first-time explorer, making the drive between Sioux Falls and Denver (or vice versa) promises a memorable, exhilarating experience that encapsulates the essence of the American Midwest and West. Buckle up, let’s hit the road!
TL;DR: How long is the drive between Sioux Falls to Denver? The drive from Denver and Sioux Falls (or vice versa) is 620 miles (997km) and should have a drive time of 9 hours, 40 minutes.
In this post, I promote travel to destinations that are the traditional lands of the hinono’eino’ biito’owu’ (Arapaho), Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Tséstho’e (Cheyenne), and Yankton peoples, among others. 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.
Sioux Falls to Denver Distance
As the crow flies, the distance between Sioux Falls to Denver is 501 miles. But, as we all know, we can’t drive in a straight line.
On the road, the Sioux Falls to Denver distance is 620 miles; part of what adds distance is that you will take a meandering route of state highways across Nebraska – there isn’t a direct highway connecting Sioux Falls and Denver like some other cities in the Great Plains.
Always remember that the final distance you’ll cover depends on where you start and end in each city.
Sioux Falls to Denver Drive Time
At 620 miles, you can imagine the Sioux Falls to Denver drive is a long one. It takes approximately ten hours to cover that distance – 10 hours, 20 minutes to be more exact.
While I’ve done drives of over 10 hours during my time, I wouldn’t recommend it if you don’t have to; you may want to consider an overnight stay. This means you’d spend two days driving (10 hours on the road with 1 overnight).
Top Stops to Make on Your Drive from Sioux Falls to Denver
If you’re thinking of making a road trip out of your Denver to Sioux Falls drive, there are a ton of fun stops you can include along the way.
If you enjoy quirky roadside attractions, the Pepsi Tank has to be a stop for you. Imagine a giant tank, standing tall in a prairie and adorned with the iconic Pepsi logo. It’s a great stop to stretch your legs on a long road trip. Plus, it will give you plenty of opportunities for crazy photos. Also, the tank is by a gas station so you can get stuff if you need to. Bear in mind it is not visible from the interstate but worth the exit.
Gavins Point Dam
Gavins Point Dam is one of the most scenic stops along the Sioux Falls to Denver drive. The view of the Missouri River and dam are quite spectacular. Engineer lovers will have a blast, that’s for sure, but everyone will marvel at mankind’s ability to shape the natural world.
You can learn about clean power production through hydroelectric means, learn about the area’s environment and wildlife, see a hydroelectric generation station in use, and witness how to river’s currents are tamed by the dam.
Lone Tree Monument
Your next stop can be Lone Tree Monument. This site is not very popular, so if you want a bit of solitude to stretch your legs, this is the place.
The Lone Tree Monument stands on the site once occupied by a giant, solitary cottonwood in central Nebraska. It was of vital importance for Native Americans, who would hold council under it, and early pioneers, who used it as a landmark. While the tree has been gone for years now, the people of Merrick County still remember its historical significance and made a monument in its honor.
The Stuhr Museum is a fantastic stop for history buffs or if you’re traveling with children. They have recreated a pioneer town; it has a veterinary, blacksmiths, an old church, every pioneer bulging to offer a glimpse into the past life in Nebraska.
The museum is run by period-dressed staff who are very friendly and knowledgeable. And the exhibits are fantastic, particularly the old Railroad Town living history. Oh, besides being a cool place to visit, they also have super friendly ducks!
Great Platte River Road Archway Monument
As you venture further along the Great Platte River Road, you’ll find the Archway Monument. Many people just pass beneath the massive arch or stop to get a picture. But if you can, visit the museum.
This museum highlights the Lincoln Highway history and the pioneers who forged through fields and streams to build the West. It’s a truly impressive place and hits on so many educational topics in a really fun and interactive way. You won’t regret it!
The Wild Animal Sanctuary
Last on my list (if you’re driving westbound – otherwise it’s the first!) is The Wild Animal Sanctuary. Nestled in the vast Colorado plains, this refuge provides a safe haven for rescued animals, giving them a chance to thrive in a natural environment. The property has tons of elevated walkways from where you can witness the beauty and majesty of lions, tigers, bears, and other creatures.
They also provide good photo opportunities, so have your camera ready! The indoor entrance has plenty of bathrooms and a great little cafe if you want to relax for a bit before continuing the drive.
Other Tips for Your Drive Between Denver and Sioux Falls
Here are some final tips to help you plan your drive between Denver and Sioux Falls:
- The route between Sioux Falls and Denver crosses three states: South Dakota, Nebraska, and Colorado.
- Along the way, there are no major cities – it’s a great route if you’re looking to escape city crowds and see rural America.
- If you’re looking for a midway or overnight stop near the halfway point, look at North Platte; it’s about 6 hours from Sioux Falls and 4 hours from Denver.
- During that first six hours, your rest stops and amenities will be limited to gas stations in small Nebraska towns. On the second half of the drive, there are limited rest stops along I-80/I-76. Just be prepared!
- That said, there are gas stations and truck stops along the entire route if you need fuel, toilets, snacks, or other services.
Should You Fly Between Sioux Falls to Denver Instead?
When you have to drive such long distances, it’s not unusual to ask yourself if you should fly instead of driving. My advice is to consider two variables to make that decision: time and cost.
Time-wise, a commercial flight between Sioux Falls and Denver takes one hour. However, you need to include how many minutes to get to your local airport, wait for security, board, and taxi on the runway, land at the other airport, and get to your destination.
As I said above, driving takes around ten hours, and you’ll most likely have to split the driving time into two days.
Cost-wise, if you find a good deal, a one-way flight can cost $51, and a round trip, $170. When driving, a one-way Denver to Sioux Falls drive costs $86.89, and a round trip, $173.78. However, finding a flight that cheap is pretty uncommon, so you should be prepared to spend more if you fly.
While flying looks like the best option, I still encourage you to do the road trip if you have the time. You’ll get to explore places you wouldn’t otherwise instead of being in an airport scrolling on Instagram.
Have any other questions about making the drive from Sioux Falls to Denver – or vice versa? Let me know in the comments below!