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“Real Gold?”

Big Thunder Gold Mine
Ranked #5 of 23 things to do in Keystone
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Big Thunder Gold Mine has an original tour which lasts 45-55 minutes and was founded in 1892. You see the largest display of mining equipment in the Black Hills and learn the history of the gold rush in 1876. We have two forms of panning: one is our commercial panning right on site. Guides will demonstrate theskill of panning, no time limit and we guarentee you will find gold. We also have claim panning where you will pan directly our of the creek 4 miles down the road on Forest Service property. Those exist in 4 hour trips.
Hull, Iowa, United States
Level 5 Contributor
92 reviews
37 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Real Gold?”
Reviewed July 28, 2013

Had a nice time on the brief tour and then actually panned for gold. We learned how from a demonstration. We went very early in the morning. Couple notes if you pan. It seemed as we were driving up a staff member was filling the tub up top on the porch where they demonstrate. The put more gold up there so when they show people how to do it, they always find some. The tubs down below had much smaller amounts in them. We actually stopped by later the next day towards evening and really found nothing, as it seemed most barrels had been rummaged through most of the day leaving very little to be found at that time. Go EARLY!

Visited July 2013
Thank David V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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685 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
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English first
Isanti, Minnesota, United States
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 attraction reviews
“Kids loved it!”
Reviewed July 26, 2013

I think this could have been a better experience for me if we had a different tour guide. I should have followed the advice of a previous review and asked for an adult guide. I listened to one of the other guides and he seemed so much more fun and knowledgeable. Our guide was very young and not terribly enthusiastic. Never the less, my 4 and 6 year old loved it. They panned for gold for a very long time. It was a good time killer while their dad finished his conference call. Personally, I would have liked it to be more educational.

Visited July 2013
Thank Cherie1976
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 3 Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Nice tour, panning is fun for kids”
Reviewed July 26, 2013 via mobile

Interesting tour of an old gold mine. The guide was very knowledgable though not super animated. The kids liked panning for gold. Overall a very nice experience.

Visited July 2013
Thank Swilson249
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Making memories with the family!”
Reviewed July 21, 2013

My husband, daughter, and I stumbled upon Big Thunder Gold Mine while visiting Keystone, SD on vacation. We found the staff to be very friendly upon entering. We had just missed the gold mine tour so it was suggested that we pan for gold first and then we would be called when the next tour was about to start. My daughter was given the option to have the front desk hold her pan at the start of the tour if she wanted to continue panning afterwards. Our tour guide was Chris and he was funny and got the kids and adults involved. The mine was amazing to see and Chris' explanations of how miners worked with only candlelight was interesting. Once we returned from underground, we were led to a barn area with lots of equipment from the old mining days. Everything was explained including the "honey pot". It was great and our daughter was able to return to panning afterwards until she had decided to stop. Great fun!

Visited July 2013
Thank ParkerRoadtrippers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wausau, Wisconsin
Level 6 Contributor
112 reviews
28 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 117 helpful votes
“Fun experience! 😃 Did people really think they were going to find a "chunk" of gold while panning here?”
Reviewed July 19, 2013 via mobile

Mine Tour Rates
Adults - $9.25
Children (Ages 6-12) -$6.25 Under 6 - FREE

Panning Rates
Gold Panning - $9.25 per pan (may share pan)
-$7.25 with tour
Gem Panning - $5.99 per bag of gemstone rough

I really didn't think the prices were unreasonable. You can pan for gold all day if you chose to do so. I admit I only found a few flecks of gold, mostly in the first pre filled gold panning pan. However, I observed one of the employees, "Rattlesnake", scoop dirt and rocks up from one of the panning tanks, again and again, filter out the big pieces and score a small treasure each time (most I saw was 5 flecks of gold in a single attempt). Seeing Rattlesnake pan for gold, effortlessly, certainly makes me appreciate the skill. It was fun to try but's hard to succeed! The gem panning simply consisted of dumping a prepackaged bag of gems and dirt into a big sifter and you pick out the rocks you chose to keep. You may sift for gems all day, if you chose, by digging up dirt and rocks from the panning tank and sifting. Mine tour lasted about 1/2 hour. Photo opportunity in the mine, you can sit in the mine cart and your guide will snap a picture with your camera. It was a fun day in which was cut short prematurely due to rain. Worth the stop for us!!

Visited July 2013
1 Thank catchthetrain
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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