Black Hills attractions see a steady stream of business despite high gas prices

The late evening news on KEVN Black Hills Fox Sunday
Published: Jul. 11, 2022 at 5:37 PM MDT
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BLACK HILLS, S.D. (KEVN) - Pain at the pump and rising inflation may have some holding onto their wallets a little tighter this summer instead of taking off for a vacation.

“You know considering inflation, considering gasoline prices and that, I think we need to be extremely grateful that we’re as busy as we are,” said John Brockelsby, public relations at Reptile Gardens, adding this summer has been slower than 2021 and visitor numbers are somewhere similar to pre-covid years.

“So, we’re down from last year, but last year was a real anomaly we were so busy last summer,” said Brockelsby.

Over at Crazy Horse Memorial, crowd sizes are seeing similar trends.

“It’s been real busy. It hasn’t been as busy as last year but it’s a lot busier than 2018 and 2019,” said Terry DeRouchey, Vice President of Visitor Services at Crazy Horse Memorial.

DeRouchey said this comes as a relief after initial concerns that gas prices and inflation would affect their summer season.

“We were pleasantly surprised when May came that there were a lot of people that wanted to go out and enjoy their vacation time,” explained DeRouchey.

The number of international visitors to Crazy Horse Memorial has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels, but visitors from across the United States continue to make their way to the southern Black Hills.

“You know, it’s been a lot of fun to meet the different people from the different states that are coming here and explaining what Crazy Horse is all about,” explained DeRouchey.

At Reptile Gardens, Brockelsby said he’s actually seen the opposite.

“The people are taking their vacations they might just be staying a little closer to home,” he explained.

Brockelsby claims to have seen an increase in Black Hills locals returning to the attraction.

“Other than that, what I’ve really seen this year is I’ve seen a lot of Minnesota, which we always have, and then a lot of Colorado and our surrounding states, too,” said Brockelsby.

Both DeRouchey and Brockelsby are looking forward to finishing the summer strong.

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