Reptile Gardens has been awarded the Heritage Family Business of the Year Award

The Brockelsby Family founded The Black Hills’ Reptile Gardens® in 1937 and today, the popular Midwest tourist attraction is still under ownership of the same family. Today, Reptile Gardens hosts more species of reptiles than any other park or zoo in the world. Since its founding, the Garden has provided a great entertainment experience for literally millions of visitors.

Thank You!

Prairie Family Business Association Logo

The Prairie Family Business Association Heritage Family Business of the Year Award is presented each year to a family business that has been in business for 75 years or longer.

Reptile Gardens has been Designated as a Great Service Star Business for 2016!

Once again, Reptile Gardens has been designated as a Great Service Star Business and will continue to be one through 2016. Being designated a Great Service Star Business is an honor, and we’re extremely happy to continue to have the designation. We pride ourselves in providing our Guests with a memorable, fun, and educational experience. Being designated as a Great Service Star Business means helping the business community to set an example of excellent customer service, listening to our customer input, and recognizing our employees who make excellence part of their daily routine.

Thank You!

Image of South Dakota Great Service Award logo.

The Great Service Star Program is designed to identify and recognize businesses that complete a set of criteria for hospitality training of their employees, offer a comment mechanism for visitors, and recognize employees for great service. Our staff receives intense and ongoing hospitality training, which isn’t something most zoos, or many other businesses, do. We also love to hear from our customers and take your feedback seriously. Finally, we recognize how important our employees are to your experience, which is why we recognize and reward all of the hard work that goes into make the World’s Largest Reptile Zoo. If you’re visiting the beautiful Black Hills, or are a year-round resident, we welcome you and your family to come experience an adventure you’ll never forget!

Reptile Gardens Wins TripAdvisor’s 2015 Certificate of Excellence Award

Certificate of Excellence

Reptile Gardens has officially been awarded the 2015 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor for the fourth consecutive year. We’re extremely happy to have been awarded this certificate for the last four years. Our staff has a tremendous amount of pride in ensuring that our Guests have an experience that is truly memorable. Every day we strive to create those memorable experiences by welcoming, engaging, entertaining, and educating Guests of every age. This award is the result of a culmination of reviews from people around the world, and we are honored and humbled by so many people sharing their wonderful experience.

From our family to yours: Thank You.

In addition to receiving TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence, Reptile Gardens has also received acclaim from the Guinness Book of World Records as being the World's Largest Reptile Zoo. However, we’re not just about reptiles. We’ve worked hard to create an exotic, relaxing, and beautiful botanical garden that features very happy and very healthy tropical plants in a very non-tropical South Dakota. Take some time to stroll through the gardens and Tortuga Falls to visit Darwin, the Australian Kookaburra. Whether you’re visiting the Black Hills or are a local resident, Reptile Gardens welcomes everyone to an adventure that the whole family can enjoy.

Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence for the year 2014

Certificate of Excellence

For the third consecutive year, Reptile Gardens has been given the award of Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor. It is a true reflection of the continued commitment of our staff to our Guests' satisfaction, enjoyment, entertainment, and education. At Reptile Gardens, the Guest experience is the primary focus, and we feel honored to have once again earned this award. We look forward to another year of family fun in the Black Hills.

Reptile Gardens has received additional world acclaim in the Guinness Book of World Records as being the World's Largest Reptile Zoo. There are more species and subspecies of reptiles here than any other zoo or park in the world. We welcome the opportunity to continue to grow, and to encourage visitors from around the world to see what we are all about!

Reptile Gardens Named the Top Family Attraction in South Dakota

Rapid City, SD –Reptile Gardens has been named the top family attraction in South Dakota by, the vacation rental company of leading travel site TripAdvisor. The results were obtained through industry research and traveler feedback, and they have found the 50 most loved and most talked about family attractions in each state across the country. Museums, zoos, parks, roadside attractions, sightseeing spots, and many, many more were reviewed for the list, which was ultimately narrowed down to one family attraction per state.

Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence for the year 2013


Certificate of Excellence
For the second year in a row, Reptile Gardens has been awarded TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence. We are proud to receive this acclaimed award as a result of our hard work, commitment, and dedication to our Guests and community. We pride ourselves on our hospitality and the experience that visitors have at Reptile Gardens. To once again achieve this award gives us an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction, knowing our Guests have an experience that they will remember for years to come.


Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence for the year 2012

Reptile Gardens is honored to announce we have been awarded TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence. TripAdvisor is the world's largest travel site and provides trusted advice from travelers across the world. We are thrilled to have earned such a phenomenal award as only ten percent of accommodations listed on TripAdvisor will receive this award on a yearly basis. This tribute honors excellence in hospitality, and that's exactly what we aim to do, by engaging visitors at Reptile Gardens and have them leaving with a memorable, enjoyable, and educational experience. Our passion for what we do is ignited within our visitors, enabling them to leave with a better sense of what our world renowned team of specialists and conservationists set out to accomplish every day.

Small Business Administration’s
South Dakota Family-Owned Business of the Year Award: 2010

The Brockelsby family was recently honored with the title of South Dakota Family-Owned Business of the Year. Presented by the South Dakota Small Business Administration District Office, the award is given to a local business based on success, employment opportunities, potential long-term growth and efforts to strengthen the community.

Excellence in Family Business 2009
Reptile Gardens was recently honored with the Excellence in Family Business award which recognizes the successes of exemplary family businesses from their rich heritage and strong values to their community involvement. Annually presented by the Prairie Family Business Association, the regional award is given to families whose businesses have successfully transitioned from one generation to the next.

Tom Didier Excellence in Family Business Award: 2008
The Brockelsby Family, proud owners of Rapid City’s world-renowned family attraction, Reptile Gardens, is the 2008 recipient of the Tom Didier Excellence in Family Business Award.

The Tom Didier Excellence in Family Business Award was established in 1994, to acknowledge the importance of family-owned businesses to the economy and the region. This award recognizes multi-generational family businesses with practices and policies that positively impact local business, as well as the neighboring community.

This award is sponsored by the South Dakota Family Business Association from the University of South Dakota and it honors the many achievements and contributions of the Brockelsby family.

South Dakota Governor's Great Service Award: 2003-2009

"Outstanding Commitment to Hospitality and Education in the Visitor Industry"
For the past seven years, Reptile Gardens has been recognized by the South Dakota Office of Tourism for its superior customer service efforts. Since 2003, the Black Hills family attraction has received the Great Service Star designation – an honor which recognizes businesses and organizations which are dedicated to the success of the South Dakota visitor industry, and exemplify it through outstanding service and high levels of customer satisfaction.

To qualify for The Great Service Award, businesses must complete both onsite and offsite hospitality training, workshops, employee recognition, and utilize visitor comments to improve performance.

USA Today Top 10 Roadside Attractions in the Country: 2001

USA Today routinely develops a “Top 10” list for a wide range of subjects. In 2001, Reptile Gardens made the daily newspaper’s “Top 10 places in America to stop a car and take a look.”

Midwest Travel Writer’s Association GEMmy Award: 1995
The Midwest Travel Writer’s Association is the oldest association of professional travel writers in the country. The group of travel writers and publicity experts cover topics throughout the 13 Midwestern states as well as destinations around the world. Each year the professional association gives the GEMmy Award to an attraction, site, event, restaurant, accommodation or excursion that is deemed to provide an exceptional travel experience. Destinations from all over the globe have been presented with the GEMmy Award, with Reptile Gardens receiving the honor in 1995. They are the only attraction in South Dakota to receive this honor.

AAA GEM Designation Attraction

Reptile Gardens was the first attraction in South Dakota to receive the AAA GEM designation. Attractions and events with the GEM designation are deemed to be of exceptional interest and quality by AAA’s professional evaluators.




Main Exhibits






Other Reptiles

Amphibians and Bugs

Native to South Dakota


Botanical Gardens




About Us

Sky Dome

Step inside the Sky Dome to experience a warm tropical climate while exploring our indoor jungle filled with exotic and unique flora and fauna. 

Rattlesnake Gulch

Try your hand at gemstone sluicing or go on a 3D safari. Our very own old west ghost town as numerous photo opportunities and activities to keep the kids entertained.

Cheyenne's Habitat

Cheyenne the bald eagle has been a permanent resident of Reptile Gardens for 11 years with permission of the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Maniac's habitat

Maniac is our resident giant saltwater crocodile. At over 16 feet long and1,350pounds, he is one of the largest giant crocodiles in the western hemisphere. If you don't see him at his enclosure inside the SkyDome, make sure to check outside!

Prairie Dog Town

Get down to eye-level with these fuzzy little animals and see firsthand what life is like in a typical prairie dog town!

Methuselah's Playground

Methuselah was a giant Galapagos Tortoise weighing in at over 600 pounds, and a long time resident of Reptile Gardens. His memory lives on at this playground featuring a bronze statue of Methuselah himself. 

Snake Show stage

Get up-close-and-personal with our snake ambassadors in this family-friendly snake handling show.

Gator Show stage

Dozens of Alligators, Crocodiles, and Caimans and one keeper...what could go wrong? Separate fact from fiction in this educational, family-friendly show and get a chance to pet Fluffy, our baby gator!

Bird Show stage

Interact with birds from around the world at the Bird Show, where they love to show off their beauty and intelligence. 

Gift Shop

Carrying a wide variety of Reptile Gardens souvenirs as well as educational books for every age and a variety of stunning rocks, minerals, and fossils from all over the world.

Green Parrot Cafe

Hungry? Refuel with buffalo burgers, The Maniac burger, Black Mamba Shakes, Indian Tacos, and more!

Giant Tortoise

Don't miss this photo opportunity! Get up-close and personal with these friendly giants who love to have their neck scratched and are great with kids. 

Tortuga Falls

Take a stroll through this meditative garden, gaze into our turtle and koi pond, listen to the waterfalls, and don't miss Darwin the Kookaburra! 

Walking Garden

We're about more than just Reptiles! Our outdoor gardens are beauty to be seen as they change throughout the season and year after year. 

Living Wall

This vertical garden is a wall of color that grows and changes through the Summer season creating striking patterns and unique portraits as it grows. 

Pet A Python

Don't miss your chance to Pet a Python!  Our snake handlers ar here to talk about any questions or myths you've heard about snakes. Don't forget your camera! Our pythons are very photogenic and love to photos with you!