See giant crocodiles, turtles, and snakes in this reptile garden

Reptile lovers will find this reptile garden an irresistible stop on their South Dakota itinerary … and it’s also the largest in the world.

South Dakota is perhaps best known for Mount Rushmore (which is also worth a visit). But there is more to this Great Plains state than being very far from where you live, having giant presidential heads, and having one of the coldest climates in the country. Reptile Gardens is a wildlife park just south of Rapid City on the route to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Reptile Gardens is definitely a great attraction for families offering a fun and educational day out for everyone to 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 Guinness Book of World Records, Reptile Gardens is the largest reptile zoo in the world. The was first cited in 2014, then recertified by Guinness in the 2018 edition of the book.

  • The biggest: 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 top attractions. It was originally founded by Earl Brockelsby (who was then only 21) and it was opened in 1937. Earl was mystified by the fear of snakes as well as their interest in snakes, he put in place a small exhibit of snakes.


  • Opening hours: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. (Depending on the season)

Today, Reptile Gardens remains family owned and operated and is home to more reptile species than any other zoo in the world.

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

About the Snakes and the Reptile Gardens Snake Show

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


The park’s snake show is truly intriguing and educational. Snake keepers bring out the physical attributes of harmless snakes and teach the awesome strength of these constrictors. Then learn about the different types of poisonous snakes, including the cobra.

We will learn more about snake safety, including who to keep safe if one comes face to face with the crawling snakes in the wild.

  • Python: You can pet a python at Reptile Gardens
  • Fun fact: Crocodiles are closer to birds than lizards

Only about a third of snake species are poisonous and less than 10% are dangerously poisonous. In the United States, only about 10% of snake species are poisonous. Australia, on the other hand, really deserves its reputation with around 65% of all its species of poisonous snakes.


  • New Zealand: Although New Zealand is considered close to Australia, there are no snakes in New Zealand
  • The longest snake: The oldest snake alive today is the reticulated python
  • The largest poisonous snake: The King Cobra can reach lengths of over 18 feet
  • Oldest Snake: African Ball Python has lived for 44 years

Admission cost

Admission is affordable for most families and is a big draw if one goes to Mount Rushmore.

Spring season and fall season – March 5 to May 26 and September 6 to October 31:

  • Adult: $ 15.00 (16 years old and over)
  • Youth: $ 12.00 (11 to 15 years old)
  • Child: $ 10.00 (4 to 10 years old) – Under 4 years old Free

Summer season: May 27 – September 5:


  • Adult: $ 21.00 (16 years old and over)
  • Youth: $ 17.00 (11 to 15 years old)
  • Child: $ 15.00 (4 to 10 years old) – Under 4 years old Free

Winter season: November 1 to 30

  • Adult: $ 13.00 (16 years old and over)
  • Youth: $ 9.00 (11 to 15 years old)
  • Child: $ 8.00 (4 to 10 years old) – Under 4 years old Free

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

Related: South Dakota’s Crazy Horse Monument Still Not Completed, But You Should Visit It Anyway

Main exhibitions of the reptile park

As the largest park of its kind in the world, it offers a good number of exhibits full of endless family entertainment. For more information, their events and the species on display, see their website and plan how to have a memorable family day at the world’s largest reptile zoo.


Spring Creek Gulch: Full of fun family activities like gold panning, gem locks, 3D safaris and more

Cheyenne the Bald Eagle: See a bald eagle that has resided in the wildlife zoo for 11 years

Maniac Le Crocodile Gaint: At nearly 16 feet long and weighing 1,250 pounds, he is one of the largest giant crocodiles in the Western Hemisphere

Giant tortoises: See these gentle giants, these Aldabra turtles love attention and are great with kids

The town of prairie dogs: See the black-tailed prairie dogs of the great plains firsthand

Celestial Dome: One of the state’s most recognizable attractions is the Sky Dome. See a tropical oasis on the Great Plains


Next: North Dakota: Why Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Bison & Badlands Are Worth It

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