Exploring Reptile Gardens: Everything You Need To Know
The Safari Room
A great way to start to your Reptile Gardens tour is in the Safari Room. Step into the glass oasis of the Sky Dome that is filled with beautiful tropical flowers and plants, towering trees, and sculptures from Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. This space isn’t just packed with breathtaking greenery, though. Look high to see colorful parrots on perches and geckos clinging to the walls. Look low to see free-roaming lizards, small tortoises, and a pond full of turtles.
After making your way through the wild Safari, take the stairs up to The Mezzanine level. Here you can take in a great view of the open Safari room as you head for the reptile displays. You’ll find yourself at eye-level with pythons, cobras, mambas, rattlesnakes… the list goes on because Reptile Gardens has more species of reptiles than anywhere else in the world according to Guinness World Records!
The Lower Level
Cool off in the lower level of the Dome with the crocodilians! Here you’ll meet Maniac, Reptile Gardens’ giant saltwater crocodile. This guy is over 16 feet long and weighs in at more than 1,300 pounds! The lower level is also home to the colorful amphibian collection and the “Big Bugs” exhibit featuring scorpions, cockroaches, and spiders of all types and sizes.
Catch A Show
OK, so you’ve gawked at more snakes than you ever imagined in the Sky Dome. Now you can see them in action, as expert handlers bring out a variety of snakes from harmless to deadly. Hearing a rattler start vibrating its tail 10 feet away from you is a spine-tingling experience! Presenters share a wealth of knowledge and are happy to answer questions, and at the end you may get to pet one of the stars of the show.
Action-packed doesn’t even begin to cover what happens in this show! Learn all about alligators, crocodiles and caimans as the professional keepers display the speed and power of these reptiles. The feeding portion can be especially thrilling. Stick around after the show for an opportunity to pet Fluffy the baby alligator.
Get up close to the feathery residents of Reptile Gardens during the Bird Show! No binoculars are needed to get a great look at a wide variety of birds demonstrating natural behaviors. You can talk with the keepers at the end of the show (some of the birds might even join the conversation).
Go Meet The Gentle Giants
The Gardens are full of action-packed activities, but don’t forget to slow things down with a visit to the Aldabra Tortoises! These gentle giants always win the “most popular” award at Reptile Gardens. Get up close and give them the attention they love, in the form of a neck scratch, which makes for some great photo opportunities!
Next Up Prairie Dogs
Visit a town unlike the others. The Prairie Dog Town provides a glimpse into the lives of these furry critters. Watch as they scurry in an out of their underground tunnels while keeping a watchful eye out for danger. Get a closer peek as they play from inside the underground bubble!
Time To Meet Cheyenne
You might have been lucky enough to see eagles soaring overhead on your journey here – now there’s a chance to see one up close. Cheyenne’s keen eyes survey the Gardens from her enclosure amidst the flowerbeds. She became an avian ambassador after an injury sustained in the wild failed to heal properly. She is still one of the most beautiful and beloved animals.
Walk The Grounds
Take time to unwind with a stroll through Tortuga Falls. Relax to the calming sounds of cascading water as you take in this botanical garden featuring a turtle and Koi pond. During the summer months you’ll meet Darwin, the Laughing Kookaburra, whose cackling cries often fill the air.
The Living Wall
Gaze upon Reptile Gardens’ vertical garden. The Living Wall is created by staff to display a variety of plants and flowers arranged in a dazzling design. Over the season, it grows into a stunning portrait that’s beautiful to see and provides a colorful backdrop for some great photos.
Reptile Gardens is more than just the world’s largest reptile zoo, but also a botanical garden! Discover vibrant colors sprouting up throughout the grounds in numerous flowerbeds. Take a walk to absorb all the striking colors and smells of the flowers for the cherry on top of your Reptile Gardens experience.
Run, jump, and let out some energy clowning around on Methuselah’s Playground. Snap a picture posed inside the jaws of a gator, or within the coils of an enormous python! Don’t forget to visit Methuselah’s life-size bronze replica. This beloved 130-pound tortoise was a long-time resident and mascot of Reptile Gardens.
Find A Souvenir
New Guinea Art
Shop the selection of unique tribal and oceanic art in the Jungle Outpost! The President and CEO of Reptile Gardens is an avid collector of Oceanic Art and is helping preserve this amazing culture by offering unique art works for visitors to purchase as well!
After a day of learning, laughing and lounging don’t forget to find the perfect keepsake. The Reptile Garden’s Gift Shop is one of the largest and most unique in the Black Hills and has something for everyone. Shop the selection of books, toys, fossils and more to find the perfect gift to take home.
Don’t forget to come back!
Reptile Gardens offers an amazing deal in the form of their Vacation and Season Passes. They’re free. That’s no bull(snake). When you pay full admission, you can receive a Vacation/Season pass at no extra cost. The Vacation Pass allows visitors to the area a chance to return for free during the length of their stay in the Black Hills, and the Season Pass for locals lets you visit free for the rest of the year!