Big Thunder Mine Keystone,South Dakota

Big Thunder Gold Mine

The Black hills are beautiful from a distance and close up they do not disappoint. On our way to Mt Rushmore, we had an opportunity to tour Big Thunder Mine.

And who would turn down an opportunity to see up close the early process of mining for gold? 

Big Thunder Mine

Big Thunder mine

Big Thunder Mine is a retired mine that lets you glimpse at what it was like for our early settlers to mine for gold. We started by finding the perfect hard hat to protect our heads.  A much needed accessory in this tight mine.

I won’t give any tour spoilers but I can tell you it was well run and our tour guide (thanks Jake!!) was great.  Tours seem to run every half hour and all you need is yourself and a light jacket if you are sensitive to the cold.  The tour is in a mine averaging 62’ year round.  You will be given a hard hat to wear so don’t worry about your hair style till after your 45 minute tour.  Everyone ended up with hat head.

Panning for gold

Big Thunder Gold MineAfter the Big Thunder Mine tour, we were given a panning for gold demonstration. Then it was our chance. Jake handed out pans of rubble/tailings/gold rich dirt to pan ourselves.  We were also given a small glass vile for whatever we found and wanted to keep. Our family found a few pieces of gold and the kids wanted to keep a few odd rocks.

Overall it was a great experience.  We all liked it.  The tour was interesting and the stories of early mining were thought provoking and gave a fresh understanding of why the gold rush ever happened.

My husband and I especially liked visiting after years of watching Discovery Channels Gold Rush.  I mean who doesn’t want to see a little color in their pan.  Maybe we can join the Hoffman crew and help out.  Or maybe we should just keep looking for our next adventure and leave the mining to the pros.

Mt Rushmore from BIg Thunder mine

Mt Rushmore anyone?  Yeah, that sounds like a better idea. Lets not forget, another awesome part of this mine is its location. This is the view of Mt Rushmore from the porch.


Quick side note:

The Big Thunder Mine tour happens inside a mine with tight quarters and many people.  It may not be appropriate for those with claustrophobia.

A Wife, Mother, horseback riding, RV-ing, travel enthusiast always looking for the next adventure. As the Matriarch of a homeschooling family of four we keep our suitcases packed and our atlas handy. Join us on our adventures.