Are You Dino Crazy? Come to the Black Hills!
The world’s fascination with dinosaurs took off in 1912 with The Lost World, written by the infamous Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. These monolithic beasts roamed our earth thousands of years ago, their mysterious deaths leaving tantalizing clues buried for us to find and puzzle over. While it may seem that dinosaurs are more of a children’s fascination, old and young alike have succumbed to the dino craze. Dinosaurs in South Dakota even made their way to the very top of the second-biggest city in the state – in 1936, Rapid City’s Dinosaur Park was created at the apex of Skyline Drive, an overlook with a vast view of of the Black Hills and the Badlands. Here’s a little history on the park, and why it is one of the top things to do in Rapid City!
Dinosaur Park is Listed on the National Register of Historic PlacesEmmett Sullivan, a lawyer by day and sculptor by night, began construction on Dinosaur Park in 1936. One of Rapid City’s first original attractions, the park is the brainchild of then South Dakota School of Mines president C.C. O’Hara. Dinosaur Park was to have five dinos: the towering Apatosaurus, armored Triceratops, spiny Stegosaurus, duckbilled Trachodon and fearsome Tyrannosaurus Rex. The land for the park was gifted to Rapid City, and Sullivan was given $25,000 and 15 months in which to complete his project. The park was dedicated in June of 1937, and since then has remained a much-beloved and free-to-visit landmark.
It’s Free to all Visitors!Part of the draw of Dinosaur Park is it works beautifully into a family’s vacation budget – it is free to visit. Rapid Citians and incoming visitors alike have been bringing their dino-crazy children to Dinosaur Park since the late 1930s. Kids can climb on all the dinos – in the summer months, there are always parents snapping shots of their families sitting atop the Stegosaur between his spiny plates, trying to see how high up the Apatosaurus’ tail they can climb, and pretending to run shrieking from the toothy Tyrannosaur. In the summer months, the site’s Visitor Center is open to the public; there are all kinds of different pamphlets and maps, and you can browse through their collection of memorabilia available for purchase as a memento of your visit.
Dinosaur Park is Close to Other Dino-ActivitiesFor the super-fanatics, there are other dino-centric locations to combine with your Dinosaur Park visit within less than an hour’s driving distance that are worth a good visit. The School of Mines and Technology Museum in Rapid City sports extensive Geology and Paleontology exhibits, and the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs allows visitors to participate in their active dig site. The Journey Museum, also in Rapid City, offers an interactive Paleontology learning exhibit and center. When you check into your Rapid City hotel, your front desk attendants can offer you maps, directions, and recommendations, along with exceptional customer service.
Make your reservations to stay with us at the Grand Gateway Hotel now by calling 605.342.1300. The dinosaurs are only minutes away from us, and they are waiting at the top of our city to greet you!