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  • Writer's pictureHelen Avaient

Cosmos Mystery Area in South Dakota

A visit to the Cosmos Mystery Area in the Black Hills of South Dakota is a fun experience for visitors of all ages. It is located just seven miles from Mount Rushmore. Their advertising states that it is the “strangest location in the entire Black Hills” and I would have to agree that there are some very strange occurrences to be had here.


There are several things to do at Cosmos:

1. Take a tour where all laws of nature and physics appear to be suspended

2. Mine for geodes

3. Enjoy the ice cream and gift shop

A poster at the site states “The Cosmos of the Black Hills was discovered in 1952 by 2 college boys looking for a place to build a summer cabin. When they entered this area they experienced a slight unbalance which increased considerably on entering the old house. The boys were interested and camped on the place while they investigated the odd phenomena. They decided that here was something of interest to the general public, so they began to fix the cabin to make it safe and then developed the demonstrations you are about to see."

an old wooden cabin stands in a forest, it is slanted and leans to the left. A grass strewn pathway and hand rails lead people to the front fence that is also leaning to the left.

The guided tour is a lot of fun with entertaining audience interaction. Balls roll uphill, tall people appear short and short ones tall. There were two concrete slabs on the ground and our guide placed a level on the two to show they were indeed level. Then two of the audience stood on one block each. The man was taller than the girl. Yet, when they swapped places, it seemed that the girl was now taller than the man. How strange!

As you travel through the mystery house, it seems the physical laws of nature have been abandoned and gone berserk. People seem to be standing at a slant. Your brain tries to realise that they are upright and the house at a lean, but it still seems that the person is at a gravity defying angle.

a woman stands in the doorway of a slanted wooden house but it looks as if she is leaning at an impossible slant

The tour is not suitable for wheelchair access or for anyone that has balance issues.

Also at the area is a Geode Rock display. Visitors can dig for their own geode and watch as it gets cracked open, revealing the enchanting crystals inside. These make for excellent souvenirs of your visit.

a hydraulic rock cracker splits open geodes, Cosmos mining is etched into the wooded box housing the splitter.

The Gem Mine separates and recovers gems, fossils, arrowheads and minerals. Using a sluice to separate these items, there is a gem index nearby that allows you to match your finding and identify your new gem. Not only is this a fun activity, but it is also educational.

Inside, the gift shop sells lots of South Dakota souvenirs, posters and snacks. This includes their delicious ice cream. A lot of the games you can purchase here are scientifically educational. I really liked the old cowgirl poster.

cowgirl poster, she is riding a bucking bronco. The poster says black hills, if it doesnt involve roping, riding or saddles, count me out. Cowgirl Territory. Rooting Tooting Fun

24040 Cosmos Road, Rapid City, South Dakota, USA

RV Parking available, pets are allowed if they are on a leash

Happy Travels!

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