Scales and Tales

Start planning your Black Hills vacation

As the sunshine warms the ground, the days get longer, and the trees begin to bud, it is undeniable that summer is just around the corner. Many are inspired by the warm weather and begin planning ahead for their summer Black Hills vacation.

A time of relaxation and excitement, summer vacations are the one time of year when people of all ages are allowed to enjoy an endless array of activities and escape the worries that come with their everyday routine. With age out of the question, let Reptile Gardens in Rapid City, SD be one of your destinations for this summers Black Hills vacation.

A vacation should be about experiencing something new. It is a time to create memories that your kids will remember when they are parents. With that in mind, the staff at Reptile Gardens offers three pieces of advice for those who want to get the most out of their summer vacation destination.

Stay Stress Free — Work, school, activities, and all other daily responsibilities can leave a family tired and strained. Reptile Gardens offers visitors the escape that they need by having a variety of attractions that appeal to all ages. From gator shows to relaxing gardens, everyone will find enjoyment in this oasis just outside of Rapid City.

Families go to Reptile Gardens to spend quality time together. With so many different things to see and experience all ages enjoy watching their family member's interactions and reactions to the many activities offered at Reptile Gardens.

Learn something new — A summer vacation does not have to involve the usual poolside lounging. Try planning something that will rejuvenate your mind in a new way. A visit to Reptile Gardens offers the opportunity to learn something new in the Black Hills. There are educational and fun shows with birds, snakes, alligators and crocodiles. The grounds are filled with reptiles and creatures from around the world, including deadly snakes, huge tortoises, birds, and tropical foliage. This is one Black Hills attraction that you will definitely want your camera!

Venture out of your comfort zone — Although it is tempting to partake in the usual summer activities on your Black Hills vacation, try to stray away and find new places to have fun. At Reptile Gardens, you may get the opportunity to have an up close encounter with a giant albino python or baby alligator.

Plan your Black Hills vacation or stay-cation with these things in mind, and you are bound to make memories, share some laughs, and maybe even learn something along the way. For more information about Reptile Gardens, show times, hours and admission see /visit/.




Main Exhibits






Other Reptiles

Amphibians and Bugs

Native to South Dakota


Botanical Gardens




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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!