Reptile Gardens


Reptile Gardens in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Reptile Gardens

Reptile Gardens of the Black Hills of South Dakota (located south of Rapid City on U.S. Highway 16) is a renowned animal park along the road to Mount Rushmore National Memorial and is one of the "must see
and do" attractions in the Black Hills.  Reptile Gardens in the Black Hills of South Dakota is known as the "largest privately owned collection of reptiles on earth", and provides its visitors with not only amazing live reptile displays, but also very entertaining and fascinating animal performance shows for kids of all ages.

A vacation to the Black Hills of South Dakota would not be complete without spending time at the ever-popular Reptile Gardens.  Once you experience this amazing reptile zoo, we're sure you'll agree.

Brief History

Reptile Gardens of the Black Hills of South Dakota was founded by Earl Brockelsby in 1937.  An avid reptile hobbyist, Earl Brockelsby was also an entrepreneur and planned on capitalizing on all the vacationer traffic coming through the region.  Before founding the Reptile Gardens, Earl was a guide at another local attraction known as "Hidden City", and gained local notoriety by keeping a live rattlesnake under his hat.  In 1965, the Reptile Gardens moved to its current location, south of Rapid City South Dakota along Highway 16, which is popular corridor for several tourist attractions.


The Alligator Show at Reptile Gardens is always a hit!

What To Expect

Visitors to Reptile Gardens enjoy a variety of experiences, including the ever-popular alligator wrestling event.  There are numerous live reptile displays such as an 16+ foot long albino snake named Marilyn that weighs 220 pounds!

There are also two extremely rare Komodo Dragons named Naga and Awas, which are not only rare but are also exotic, beautiful and deadly. The Dragon's Lair at Reptile Gardens is home to cobras, pythons, rattlesnakes and other poisonous and/or dangerous snakes, as well as the amazing Sky Dome, which is home to a huge array of reptiles of all kinds as well as plants and birds.

There is also a large outdoor area dedicated to a large number of alligators, as well as an area containing giant tortoises. Methusaleh is a huge Galapagos Tortoise that was born in 1881 and is known statewide as "South Dakota's Oldest Living Resident." (See photo to the right.)

Animal Shows

At what is known as "Bewitched Village", trained animal shows are a huge hit at Reptile Gardens. This unique Old West Town is home to popular animal shows such as Alligator Wrestling and Adventure Bird Program, and you'll get to see a goat bust out of jail and a pig mining for gold!


Alligator at the Reptile Gardens in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Scroll to Top