While it’s quiet off-season, the town of Keystone is bustling with thousands of daily visitors Memorial Day through Labor Day. Hike the trails, zip line at Rushmore Tramway Adventure, taste wine at Grapes & Grinds, choose from a variety of eateries (don’t forget Rushmore Mountain Taffy), and experience history firsthand in the town nestled in the Black Hills.

Established 1883


604 Blair St.

Grab a hard hat and visit the Big Thunder Gold Mine for a combination of mining, history, and geology.

Start with the museum, which is a replicate of the Tykoon Gold Mill.

“We have the largest collection of mining equipment in the Black Hills. It’s from five different mines that were taken down, including the Homestake Mine,” said president Sandi McLain.

Many items have been donated by families who had a family member pass who were involved in mining. These pieces make up how gold was processed and have informational plaques, along with more background on historical mining figures like A.I. Johnson.

“One of our newest displays is a firefighter with President Bush in the rubble. Many watched the tragedy on TV or in person, so we try to bring that home, and that gives you the goosebumps to see it.” – Shiefar

Get hands-on with two types of gold panning (on-site or off-site), plus gem panning, at “the last known mining community established in the gold rush.” The popular off-site Claim Panning (claim), is just like what miners experienced at Big Thunder in 1892 along the creek sifting for gold. Discover gold? Patrons keep what they find.

If you’re lucky, you’ll learn from the best –  “Rattlesnake” Randy – who is a gold miner and California State Gold Panning Championship Medalist in Speed Panning.

See more of the process by taking a guided tour through the authentic gold mine to see the conditions miners endured. Bonus: Big Thunder Gold Mine is wheelchair accessible and is for all ages.

Hungry? Visit their family bar and grill with an ice cream parlor. Food options include Miner’s Pastries & Stew, Elk Medallions, Wild Game Brats, and more.

Open Monday-Sunday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

(605) 666-4847


Some of the mining artifacts include…

  • Stamp Mill
  • Assay Office
  • Winches
  • Copper
  • Wilfrey Tables

Carrie Ingalls (sister of Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder) spent a significant part of her adult life here.


124 Winter St.

Located on the Winter Street boardwalk, step back in time at Ruby House.

The turn-of-the-century restaurant is open April through October, and is decorated with 1800s decor with an eclectic collection of antiques.

Steve and Linda Zwetzig have owned and operated the Ruby House for over 23 years, and their daughter and general manager, Brandi Hunsaker, has been an co-owner since 2003.

“It is truly a local family-owned and operated business,” said Hunsaker. “I think a lot of why people like Ruby House is the atmosphere, as well as the great food. When people walk through the front door, they feel like they are stepping back in time into the Old West.”

“It’s a staple of Keystone. You think of Mount Rushmore, you think of the Ruby House.” – Justin Straw

The menu offers a wide range of offerings, from Pub House Pollock Melt to New Orleans Cajun Pasta to Coconut Shrimp.

“I think we have a great genre of Americanized food,” said server Justin Straw. “It’s like fun Tex-Mex down to burgers and fries, and we have a great appetizer selection, so we kind of hit every category of what people want.”

But their staple is everything buffalo, including items like the Ruby House Specialty, Buffalo Stew in a Bread Bowl, a homemade buffalo stew served in a warm bread bowl with a dinner salad, and the Buffalo Ribeye Steak, a 10 oz. buffalo steak full of flavor served with soup or salad, choice of potato, rice, or steamed broccoli.

Engaged or know someone getting married? Ruby House hosts events upstairs at Red Garter Receptions by Justin Straw Designs.

“I handle all the bookings and details of it all, and just coordinate and plan it all through us,” said Straw. “The cool thing about us when it comes to the wedding venues is we don’t charge for the space, we just make you guys get minimums with us, so it’s like investing back into your own wedding.”

Open Monday-Sunday 11 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.

(605) 666-4404

Order South Dakota’s state dessert, Kuchen.



124 Winter St.

“No working during drinking hours.”

Connected to Ruby House is Red Garter Saloon (which also serves alcoholic beverages for the restaurant). This 1880-themed establishment (velvet wallpaper and all) is full of entertainment, with live music by Jerry Allan and Michael Paul and live fun shows and gun fights.

“My dad, Leo Toskins, came up to Keystone in the middle to late ‘60s, and opened the Red Garter and the Ruby House. He’s been around a long time, and it’s still family-run.” – Lisa Schaeffer

The family-owned business has been in owner Lisa Schaeffer’s family for decades.

“This is one of the longest family-run places in the Black Hills,” said Schaeffer. “My grandmother and father started this back in the ‘50s and ‘60s.”

The Western Comedy Gun Show is a must-see Monday through Saturday 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., and 5:30 p.m. See the last days of Wild Bill Hickok’s life, and participate in raffles, drink specials, and a grand prize drawing.

Open April through October, the local favorite is always exciting with employees also in costume and changing drink specials.

“We switch up our specials all the time for the spring, summer, fall, and winter features,” said Schaeffer. “Everything [in the saloon] is 1800s in character. Our servers are in character, our bartenders are in character, and you can’t miss the gunfights, which are family-friendly.”

There are also family-friendly drinks for kids, like 1800 Soda Fountain Features, which include a Sarsaparilla or Lil’ Miss Rudy (a Shirley Temple or Roy Rogers in a garter-wrapped hurricane glass – customers keep the garter).

For adults, try domestics, import/speciality, or local and national craft beers. Want to feel like someone from the Old West? Try Sample the West with different whiskeys, or order a more tame version with a local beer flight.

Looking for liquor to-go? Check out Madam Ruby’s Liquor Store in the saloon, which is Keystone’s only liquor store.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to stop by the merchandise section or to order a specialty glass to remember your experience.

Open Monday-Sunday 11 a.m. – 1 a.m.

(605) 666-4274

This town was one of the filming locations for the Columbia Pictures 1994 comedy film North.


609 US-16A

Check out a “patriotic experience for the whole family.”

This can’t-miss museum has over 100 wax figures, including all 45 presidents, which are depicted in stunning visual recreations of iconic moments in U.S. history.

“It’s the world’s only museum with all of our presidents in it, so it’s unique. It is very historical, there’s a lot of enjoyment in here,” said museum employee Pat Schiefar.

Start your tour with a photo opp at a re-creation of the White House press briefing room. Step up to the podium and read from actual speeches by former President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump on the teleprompters.

Sit in the museum’s theater for a seven-minute video showcasing the museum’s 10 artists and the intricacies of the wax figure process. Proceed to explore stories behind the faces with a self-guided audio tour narrating context into each scene.

“One of our newest displays is a firefighter with President Bush in the rubble. Many watched the tragedy on TV or in person, so we try to bring that home, and that gives you the goosebumps to see it.” – Shiefar

Reservations are not required, and tours are however long patrons like.

“You could spend 45-60 minutes, or 10 minutes, it’s really up to you,” said Shiefar.

Challenge yourself with the walk-through with the provided National Presidential Wax Museum Scavenger Hunt, with questions like, “Who was named ‘Old Hickory’?”

Other exhibits include original oil paintings by Harvey Dunn, original Florida voting booths from the 2000 presidential election, and life and death masks cast from real faces of presidents, historical figures, and silver-screen movie stars.

Don’t forget to walk through the presidential-inspired gift shop on your way out.

Open Monday-Sunday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

(605) 666-4455


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