RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — One of Rapid City’s oldest attractions is undergoing a multi-million dollar facelift.
Dinosaur Park has stood on this hill overlooking Rapid City since 1936.
For decades, tourists have stopped by the prehistoric park on their way to South Dakota’s famous faces.
“People could come up in Rapid City, stop at the park and then Skyline Drive would take them down and onto highway 16 and on to Mount Rushmore,” Chuck McLain, Gift Shop Owner, said.
Tens of thousands of visitors stop by each year – some travel hundreds of miles to take a trip back in time.
“They talk about the dinosaurs that are here and the footprints and the history of how it was built. So we just decided we wanted to come up and see a little history,” Golden Sherman, a visitor, said.
Some visitors come from the local community.
“He has a lot of energy, so we like to go up and down the stairs and climb on the dinosaurs and look at the city,” a Rapid City visitor said.
“It was something we never experienced before and we have been around the country and seen a couple dinosaur places and once driving through Rapid City, you can see the big dinosaur on the hill and it was something that the kids got excited to see so we came and visited. It’s a beautiful park on a nice day,” Levi Neuhalfen, visitor, said.
While it still serves its same purpose today, the park is in need of some major renovations.
“The stairs that are here now are from the ’60s actually and no major work has been done to them since then. Every year, we have some stones that come out, we have to do some repaving here and there, repaint the dinosaurs and that sort of thing, but no major work has been done since the ’60s,” Melissa Petersen, Landscape Designer, said.
By making the landscape here more accessible to everyone, Dinosaur Park hopes to see more visitors by the end of construction.
The $3.4 million renovation project will also make it safer for people walking through the park.
“It’ll be ADA compliant, it’ll allow folks like myself, of my generation, an easy walk to the top. But we also have so many young families that come and visit the park and it’ll allow them to use strollers, walk at a pace with small children and make the park far more user friendly,” Chuck McLain said.
For almost a century, Dinosaur Park has been a fun place for family and friends to take pictures and spend sometime together. Now, the park will be able to continue that for many years to come.
“We are extremely excited about the project. We’ve been here long enough that we understand the importance of the project and it will be something that is far more user-friendly,” Chuck McLain said.