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No, they don’t serve rattle snake sandwiches at Reptile Gardens



Celebrating 80 long years of one of the most incredible places in the Black Hills. It holds the world’s largest collection of reptiles. Yes I said the WORLDS largest, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. So with that in mind Grouchy loaded up the grand kids and headed off to Reptile Gardens, to play tourist for the day.

Reptile Gardens is located 6 miles from Rapid City, just off US 16. It all started in 1935 by Earl Brockelsby, at the young age of 19. Earl built an 18 by 24 foot building to house a handful of specimens. On June 3, 1938 the doors were opened and Reptile Gardens was in business. Admission was 10 cents for adults and 5 cents for children; he made a total of $3.85 on his opening day. Earl would often end his tours by removing his hat to reveal a LIVE rattlesnake coiled on top of his head.

Reptile Gardens has made leaps and a bound from its humble being’s, adding the world’s largest collection of the most dangers and venomous snakes, bugs, and frogs. In 1965 the sky dome with a Safari Room, was added to give visitors the opportunity to walk amongst free-roaming reptiles, birds and plants.

Today you can walk through the park and enjoy the beautiful botanical gardens, prairie dog town, take in one or all three live shows, the snake show, the bird show or the alligator show which run every half hour, walk amongst the three very large and very old tortoises, the oldest topping off at 110 years old, spend time in the Zen garden or see one of the hundreds of snakes, alligators, crocodiles, and caiman, they have on display.

After all that walking you will be hungry, we sure were but don’t worry they have a snake bar, they have a lot to choose at very reasonable prices. Burgers, Chicken, Grilled Hot Dogs, to Black Hills specials like Indian Tacos. As well as kid’s meals, snacks and sweet treats like a Funnel Cake Sundae and Ice Cream.

Grouchy ordered the Maniac Burger, named after their largest crocodile, who is over 15 feet long and weighs over 1,250 lbs. and who by the way is not only the largest croc they have but also a movie star. I can see why they named the burger after him; it took both hands to eat this huge burger. Double beef, double bacon, double cheese, with pickle, tomato and lettuce. And a good size portion of French fries on the side. I am a lover of McDonalds fries; as far as I was concerned nothing beat their fries until now! The burger was very good, Maniac would be proud. The grand kids split a grilled cheese and fries, which they both gobbled up and Grouchy’s guest ordered a Giant Pretzel with cheese. Total for our meal came to $25.40 and that included drinks. Not bad for a tourist attraction. Not only will we be going back, again and again this summer, we will definitely be eating at their snack shack. Maybe next time we will give the Indian Taco a try.

Reptile Gardens is open 7 days a week. Spring hours are from March 5 to May 25 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and summer hours are from May 26 to September 5 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. fall hours are from September 6 to October 31, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and late fall from November 1 to November 30 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. During summer hours admission for adults is $17.50, seniors $15.50, children 5-12 $11.50 and 4 and under free. If you are an area resident ask for your season pass upon your initial visit and you will be able to visit until November 30th FREE. There are also group rates, and birthday party packages, for more information on these rates contact them at 800-335-0275 If you are a local or just passing through the hills Reptile Gardens is a must see. Reptile Gardens is a family owned and operated business, and even though Earl is no longer with us his dream lives on, stop on out today take a look at all the reptiles, take in the shows, eat a great meal, but most of all enjoy the day with your family, the corner stone of what the Brockelsby’s strive for. Until next time Grouchy loyal readers good eats.

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