Custer State Park Areaview website
8955 S Highway 16
Rapid City, SD 57702
Reptile Gardens Description
From the road, this looks like another kitschy roadside attraction -- and it is. But there's also a lot to see here. There are rock and fossil specimens; a sky dome with free-roaming lizards, frogs, birds and snakes; a huge reptile collection; and the largest venomous reptile collection in the world. Look for the giant land tortoises (and pictures of them with other visiting kids -- in the 1950s). But it houses a few surprises, too. There's a prairie dog colony that kids will love, and oddly enough, a Papua New Guinea tribal art gallery.
Toddlers & Pre-K: The prairie dog exhibit has a tunnel that leads kids into a Plexiglas dome that's right in the middle of the colony. Toddlers love getting eye-to-eye with the giant land tortoises. Climbing on their backs is discouraged, but they don't stop them from giving big hugs.
School-Age Kids: Poisonous snakes, lumbering land tortoises, a huge collection of alligators and crocodiles, snakes and baby gators than can be petted for some kids, this place is practically nirvana.
- It's like Vegas, but with animals. Check the schedule for the alligator "wrestling" show, bird show, and the snake show. Each runs about a half-hour long, four or five times a day.
Just the Facts
Hours: Open daily April 1-Dec 31 Summer (the Friday before Memorial Day through Labor Day): 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Spring and fall (April 1- the Thursday before Memorial Day; the Tuesday after Labor Day- Dec 14): 9 a.m., closing times vary, call for times. Christmas Jingle in Jungle (Dec 15-Dec 31): Call ahead for hours and days.
Fees: $10 - $20
Recommended Time: 1 to 2 hours