The Living Wall

As you make your way to our Sky Dome, you’ll be greeted by our lovely living wall.  What is a living wall?  We’re glad you asked. 

Living walls (sometimes called green walls) are self-sufficient vertical gardens that can be attached to the exterior or interior of a building. Living walls are different from green façades (e.g. ivy walls) in that the plants in a living wall are rooted to a structural support, which is fastened to the wall itself. The plants receive water and nutrients from within the vertical support instead of from the ground.

Typically, living walls are found in urban environments where the plants reduce overall temperatures of the building. Plant surfaces however, as a result of transpiration, do not rise more than a few degrees above the ambient temperature and, are sometimes cooler.

Living walls also can be used for water reuse. The plants may purify slightly polluted water (such as greywater) by absorbing the dissolved nutrients. Living walls are particularly suitable for bigger cities, as they allow good use of available vertical surface areas. They are also suitable in arid areas, as the circulating water on a vertical wall is less likely to evaporate than in horizontal gardens.  While living walls can certainly be functional, they can also be very beautiful.

Every year, the garden staff at Reptile Gardens plants our living wall.  Plant diversity is the key to any botanical garden and we utilize different types of plants on our living wall to create striking patterns and unique designs.  Throughout the season, the living wall grows into a beautiful portrait.  Our staff achieves this by utilizing the multitude of colors, textures, and sizes from the plants that nature provides. Our system accommodates flowering perennials, beautiful foliage plants, ground covers and even allows for bushes, shrubs, and small trees! 


Be sure to stop and see the living wall at Reptile Gardens as you make your way to the Sky Dome.  The living wall at Reptile Gardens is one of our favorite parts of our botanical garden.  It’s so fun to see it change and grow throughout the season.  Don’t forget to take some time to unwind in our walking gardens and be sure to visit Tortuga Falls to relax and see Darwin, our resident Australian Kookaburra.  Reptile Gardens is located just 6 miles south of Rapid City, SD at 8955 S. Highway 16.  Just look for the giant dome at the bottom of the hill on Highway 16.



Things To Do

Main Exhibits




Animal Facts



Native to South Dakota


Botanical Gardens


About Us

Dog Policy

We love all animals, wild and domesticated. Unfortunately due to a high number of recent incidents with dogs, our insurance company has advised us that we can no longer allow dogs, or other personal pets, on the Reptile Gardens grounds. ADA approved service dogs are, of course, allowed although there are three areas where they are not allowed for their safety and the safety of our animals. We do offer a shaded grassy area adjacent to our parking lot for walking your dog. We only ask that your pet be leashed and attended to at all times. You are welcome to come and go from the park as often as you like to tend to your dog. For more information, visit our FAQ Page


Privacy Policy
Book Tickets Online Book Tickets