KEYSTONE, S.D. (KELO) — Businesses in the Black Hills are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the summer tourism season.

For 65 years, the Big Thunder Gold Mine has been entertaining visitors and locals in Keystone.
The business sees thousands of people each summer.

“We are getting ready for the summer tourism season and it is not quite ready for us I don’t think. But it is a little slow due to the weather, the weather has not been the best,” Sandra McClain, Owner of Big Thunder Gold Mine, said.

Over at Mt. Rushmore T-Shirts, Owner Todd Wicks, says it’s the calm before the storm.

“My favorite time of the year is now. You can actually talk to people and visit with them and give them information and tell them where to go and what to sightsee. During the middle of the season, you don’t have time to visit, you’re just trying to keep your store running,” Wicks said.

About 2 million people visit Mount Rushmore each year. A lot of those visitors make a stop in Keystone.

“Thousands of people that come through here. Just through our visitor center last year, we saw about 12,000 people and that was just people looking for directions,” Robin Pladson, Keystone Chamber Dir., said.

With a few challenges like staffing and the spring snow, the Keystone Chamber of Commerce says its businesses are ready for tourism season.

“At this point, I think we are pretty ready as long as we don’t have one of those big unnoticeable winter storms that pop up sometimes in May,” Pladson said.

Peak tourism season in the Black Hills typically runs from Memorial Day at the end of May through Labor Day in early September.