South Dakota may be best known for Mount Rushmore (which is also very much worth visiting). But there is more to this Great Plains state than just being very far from wherever you live, having giant presidential heads, and having some of the coldest weather in the country. Reptile Gardens is an animal park just south of Rapid City on the road to Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Reptile Gardens is certainly a great attraction for families offering a fun and educational day out that all can enjoy. Another great wildlife attraction in the United States is Bearizona where one can go on a North American wildlife safari.


About Reptile Gardens

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Reptile Gardens is the largest reptile zoo in the world. The was first cited in 2014 and then recertified by Guinness in the 2018 edition of the book.

  • Largest: It Is The Largest Reptile Zoo In The World - According to the Guinness Book of World Records

The reptile zoo is family-oriented and one of South Dakota's major attractions. It was originally founded by Earl Brockelsby (who was then aged only 21) and it was opened in 1937. Earl was mystified by people's fear of snakes as well as their interest in the serpents, he set up a small display of snakes.

  • Opening Hours: 9.00 am to 3.00 pm - 6.00 pm (Season Dependent)

Today the Reptile Gardens remains a family-owned and operated business and is home to more species of reptiles than any other zoo in the world.

Related: Here Are The Top-Rated Tourist Attractions In South Dakota Besides Mount Rushmore

About Serpents and The Snake Show of Reptile Gardens

The Reptile Gardens offer a range of family-oriented shows, including their famous snake show. One will see their snake-handling experts and learn all about these frequently misunderstood reptiles. Their snake keepers introduce visitors to both venomous and non-venomous snakes and at the end of the show, there will be the chance to pet a python.

The park's snake show really is intriguing and educational. The snake keepers highlight the physical attributes of the harmless snakes and teach about the awesome strength of these constrictors. Then see the various types of venomous snakes - including the cobra.


One will learn about snake safety including who to keep safe if one comes face-to-face with the slithering serpents in the wild.

  • Python: One Can Pet a Python at Reptile Gardens
  • Fun Fact: Crocodiles Are Closer Related To Birds Than They are To Lizards

Only around one-third of the snake species are venomous and less than 10% are dangerously venomous. In the United States, only around 10% of the snake species are venomous. Australia on the other hand really does earn its reputation with around 65% of all their snake species being venomous.

  • New Zealand: Despite New Zealand Being Thought Of As Close To Australia, There Are No Snakes in New Zealand
  • Longest Snake: The Oldest Living Snake Today is the Reticulated Python
  • Largest Venomous Snake: The King Cobra Can Grow To Lengths Of Over 18 Feet
  • Oldest Snake: African Ball Python Lived For 44 Years


Cost of Admission

Admission is affordable for most families and is a great attraction if one is heading to Mount Rushmore.

Spring Season & Fall Season - March 5 to May 26 & September 6 - October 31:

  • Adult: $15.00 (Aged 16 and Over)
  • Youth: $12.00 (Aged 11 to 15)
  • Child: $10.00 (Aged 4 to 10) - Under 4 Free

Summer Season: May 27 - September 5:

  • Adult: $21.00 (Aged 16 and Over)
  • Youth: $17.00 (Aged 11 to 15)
  • Child: $15.00 (Aged 4 to 10) - Under 4 Free

Winter Season: Novemeber 1 to 30 

  • Adult: $13.00 (Aged 16 and Over)
  • Youth: $9.00 (Aged 11 to 15)
  • Child: $8.00 (Aged 4 to 10) - Under 4 Free

In addition to their general admission ticket, there are also vacation and season passes as well as group rates for groups like Boy or Girl Scouts and the like.

Related: South Dakota's Crazy Horse Monument Still Isn't Finished, But You Should Visit It Anyway

Main Exhibits Of Reptile Park

As the largest park of its kind in the world, it boasts a good number of exhibits full of endless family fun. For more information, their events, and species on display, check out their website and plan how to have a memorable family day out in the world's largest reptile zoo.

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