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5 Must-See Attractions at Big Thunder Gold Mine

If you're looking for an authentic Old West experience with a comfortable, family friendly atmosphere, Big Thunder Gold Mine is the perfect attraction for all ages. Not only will you learn about Keystone's extensive mining history, but you'll even take home your very own Black Hills gold ore souvenir! 

Located at 604 Blair Street, Big Thunder Gold Mine dates all the way back to 1892, when it was originally called Gold Hill Lode. The mine was discovered by German immigrants W.B. Krupp and J.A. Engle and has remained true to its earliest mining roots, featuring replicas of the late 19th-century architecture, as well as gold mining artifacts from throughout the region. 

If you're planning a visit to Big Thunder Gold Mine, be sure to include the following five must-see attractions in your itinerary.

Mine Tour

It goes without saying that no trip to Big Thunder Gold Mine would be complete without touring the namesake mine. Knowledgeable tour guides will discuss the mine's history and share interesting facts while showing you the inner workings of this once-productive mine. The tour is wheelchair-accessible and provides a fascinating glimpse into the lives of prospectors seeking their fortunes in the 1890s.  

Gold Panning

For an interactive hands-on experience—literally—you can try your luck panning for gold just as legendary real-life figures like Potato Creek Johnny did. The staff at Big Thunder Gold Mine will give you a lesson on proper technique and supply you with all the equipment needed to pan for gold using sand and gravel from streams in the Black Hills. This is a great activity for the whole family and the perfect opportunity to bring home a one-of-a-kind souvenir.

Claim Panning

For a more in-depth experience, spent a half or full day panning for gold in the very streams that early prospectors mined. This includes detailed hands-on lessons from a knowledgeable and experienced guide. 

Visit the Museum

The Mining Museum is a meticulously recreated replica of the Tycoon Gold Mill, built onsite in 1895. Inside, you'll find a large collection of exhibits and artifacts sourced from several working gold mines in the area. Tour guides will describe life during the Black Hills Gold Rush era and can answer any questions you might have. 

Grab a Bite

There is so much to explore at Big Thunder Gold Mine, your visit can easily turn into an all-day adventure. You're bound to work up an appetite; when those hunger pangs hit, the Big Thunder Bar & Grill is there to meet your needs with a variety of delicious menu items sure to please every palate. Dishes range from burgers, sandwiches, and nachos to more exotic fare made with local South Dakota wild game.

Before you leave, be sure to stop into the gift shop to pick up a memento of your visit. 

Big Thunder Gold Mine is open daily between April 1 and October 31st, and Thursdays through Sundays during March. Please check their website for any COVID-related updates that might affect operating hours and tour availability.