I hope everybody had a great extended Labor Day weekend! We brought the kids to the Black Hills for their first visit. While trying to plan the trip I wanted to make sure I gave the kids some down time just to have fun from all of the driving and site seeing. Yes, they’re teenagers and don’t get as wound up as they used to while being stuck in a car, sitting still for a 7+ hour road trip, but boredom can set in easily for teens. When Jim & I went to the Black Hills for our honeymoon 22 years ago we really enjoyed the caves so I was excited to see that Rushmore Cave not only has an amazing cave to tour but they also have activities that were sure to thrill our entire family. We stayed in Keystone while we were in the Black Hills so Rushmore Cave was only a short drive from the lodge.
Upon arriving to Rushmore Cave we noticed immediately that the property was inviting and very clean. Everything looked fairly new and there was plenty of room to get around. We first entered the gift shop to receive our tickets and were lucky enough to join a Cave Tour right away.
While touring the cave it’s hard to believe that you are actually climbing to the top of this giant hill. It feels like you’ve gone down deep into a cellar, not like you’re climbing to the top of a hill.
We went around a few tunnels before hearing about the history of Rushmore Cave, in the 1950s a couple from Iowa bought the property and began turning it into what it is today. At this point if somebody decided they were uncomfortable or claustrophobic and didn’t want to finish the cave tour they were able to take a shortcut back out of the cave, everybody in our group was excited to see more.
We went up lots of stairs to get to the top of the hill, they were built by carrying concrete through the tunnels inside inner tubes by kerosene lanterns.
Our tour guide told us there are only 2 places to experience complete darkness- one is in a cave the other is deep in the ocean. With everybody’s approval he turned the lights off to let us experience the darkness, then we experienced it by candle light. I can honestly say that while I was comfortable in the cave with all of the lights turned on I don’t think I could have crawled through the cave in the 50’s with a little candle.
We went back down more stairs as we made our way through the cave. I must add that while I’m not in as good of shape as I was in my 20’s the tour moved at a nice pace and I never felt uncomfortable. They do have a separate Expedition Adventure Tour that requires you to crawl through tiny spaces, Colten and Lizzie thought that would be the ultimate cave adventure and both said they were coming back to do it when they’e adults.
This was about the smallest tunnel we went through on the tour.
I’d say there were about 15-20 people on our tour, we could all hear the guide and everybody appeared to enjoy themselves.
After the tour we purchased a few items in the gift shop, they had a great selection of geodes and rocks, before moving on to the rest of the activities on site. There was a gold mining display outside of the gift shop that we checked out before moving on to the zipline.
I’ve always wanted to experience a zipline and while many people do it while on vacation in southern areas, I wanted to make sure I experienced it in the states- being the worry wart that I am I’ve always been very concerned about how safe they are. I was happy to learn that Rushmore Cave thoroughly inspects their Soaring Eagle Zipline daily.
As you can see in all of these zipline photos Colten & Lizzie loved it. Jim enjoyed it, but even though I knew that the zipline was as safe as can be, I still chickened out. lol…. As you can see the views are beautiful!
We finished up with the Gunslinger 7-D Interactive Ride. I wasn’t totally sure what this was before going in to the small theatre room. We were able to select from 3 different experiences, Lizzie selected a Zombie ride. We buckled up into a theatre seat and each grabbed our Laser Gun before the Ride started. The ride was very exciting and totally unexpected. The screen had zombies jumping out at us that we were each trying to shoot with our different colored lasers. The seats allowed us to feel like we were in a car and shook us around making the ride more thrilling and realistic.
I meant to keep track of how long everything took but time seemed to fly and we had so much fun and we were so busy talking to each other about our favorite activities that I actually forgot to pay attention to the clock. The kids agreed that this was their favorite part of the Black Hills and I was happy that it was something we could enjoy with them. I would highly recommend stopping at Rushmore Cave the next time you are in the Black Hills.
Disclaimer: Thank you to Rushmore Caves for the free tickets to experience all of the activities offered. However, all views and opinions are