Reptile Gardens, Highway 16

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Here's that "big" theme again. The world's largest collection of reptiles -- snakes, alligators, crocodiles, giant Aldabra tortoises -- is found at Retile Gardens, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Reptile Gardens is located just outside Rapid City on highway 16, the main route to Mount Rushmore. Of course the cobras, man-eating crocs, taipans, rattlesnakes (hometown snake makes the big time!) and Komodo dragons are separated from humans. Still, you can peer into their eyes, inches away, through glass in the Sky Dome. As for the gentle Aldabra tortoises, you can kneel down and stroke their ancient heads if you wish. If reptiles, including friendly tortoises, just aren't your thing, this is also one of the region's best botanical gardens. Plus it's home to a remarkable array of birds from around the world.

Photo by Allison Syman

Address: 8955 S Hwy 16
Rapid City, SD 57702


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Paul writes about the Black Hills for in-flight airline publications, academic magazines, South Dakota Magazine, public TV, newspapers and websites. He is the author of five books, all Black Hills themed. He lives in the Black Hills. He's obviously no Renaissance Man with varied interests, but if the Black Hills are your thing, he's your guy.

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