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What Can I Do in Rapid City, South Dakota?

The Black Hills National Forest Recreation Area is ideal for outdoor activities.
Thomas Jefferson on Mount Rushmore, near Rapid City, SD.
Reptile Gardens in Rapid City has alligator shows.
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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 April 2014
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Rapid City is known mostly for its interesting outdoor areas including the Black Hills. The Black Hills are actually hillsides full of pine trees, but when viewed from a distance, the pines appear black. Mount Rushmore National Monument, Cosmos Mystery Area, Reptile Gardens, Crystal Cave Park and the Black Hills National Forest Recreation Area offer plenty of great things to do in Rapid City.

Fishing is usually available year round at Black Hills National Forest Recreation Area and the waters here are known for many species of trout such as rainbow, brown and brook. Scuba diving, swimming, canoeing, sailing and water skiing are other popular water sports and the Area features lakes and streams. Hiking, biking and horseback riding are other popular spots at Black Hills National Forest Recreation Area.

Rapid City's Crystal Caves Park is known for its breathtaking scenery and reservations should be made at least the day before you plan to visit. Most of the caves are filled with beautiful crystal formations that are wonderful to see up close. The walking tour of the caves is fairly easy and Crystal Caves Park gives visitors a great chance to tour a real cave.

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Reptile Gardens is world famous for its large variety of rare reptile species. It has the world's biggest collection of reptile species including a Komodo dragon and a Russian cobra. Rapid City's Reptile Gardens is known for its four shows: alligator, snake, bird and trained animal. Reptile Gardens has a zoo and a nature center as well as a children’s play area. Visitors to the Gardens can see large turtles, birds, prairie dogs, frogs, spiders and lizards.

Cosmos Mystery Area, also called Cosmos of the Black Hills, is perfect for those who enjoy discovering the paranormal and challenges to reality. The gravity-defying nature of the area is thought to be related to some type of vortex. Balls roll uphill here and you won't be able to stand straight. The Cosmos Mystery Area is a summer attraction for all ages.

The Mount Rushmore National Monument near Rapid City is a world-renowned historic site. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum's granite mountainside carvings of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt are definitely a "must see!" Visitors to the site can take the Presidential Hiking Trail to the base of the sculptures. The Lincoln Borglum museum usually shows a film about the creation of the carvings.

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