Sitting Bull Crystal Cave

Useful Information

Location: Rockerville Gulch. Black Hills, near Rapid City. 9 Miles South of Rapid City off US 16.
Open: closed. [2015]
Fee: closed. [2015]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: T=7 °C.
Guided tours: D=45mins.
Bibliography: Gary K Soule (2002): South Dakota Beckons You, Windy City Speleonews Vol 45 No 2 p 64.
John G. Neihardt (1932): Black Elk Speaks Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux ... - John G. Neihardt - Google Books, (visited: 28-SEP-2015)
Address: Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns, 6201 Magic Canyon Road, Rapid City, SD 57702, Tel. +1-605-342-2777. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1876 discovered.
1929 explored and developed by Alex and Mamie Duhamel and their sons, Bud and Pete.
1930 opened to the public.
1934 indian shows by Black Elk.
1944 end of the indian shows.
1954 reopened.
2015 cave closed to the public and property for sale.


Sitting Bull Crystal Cave is famous for huge dog tooth calcite crystals. They are up to 40 cm long and said to be the largest on Earth! We are actually sure they are not the largest on earth, but they are the largest we know of in any show cave.

The trail through the cave seems to be a sight itself. The cave is entered on long and steep ladder-like metal staircases with narrow rungs. Walking down forward, the rungs would be too narrow to fit a foot on, so visitors must climb down facing the stairs like a ladder. Obviously the visitors have to climb the ladders back up at the end of the tour. Some people have difficulties with such climbing, and the cave is not suitable for people with disabilities or heart or lung problems. However, visitors with average physical fitness will enjoy the stairs, as they make this cavie unique for the Black Hills.

The cave was discovered in 1876. After more than 50 years the owners of the propety, the Duhamel family, started to explore the cave. During the next years Alex and Mamie Duchamel and their sons, Bud and Pete explored the cave together. Soon they started to show their discoveries to neighbours and friends, and the cave became a semi wild show cave. The trails were developed and since 1930 the cave is officially open to the public.

The cave was named Sitting Bull Crystal Cave by the Lakota medicine man Black Elk in honor of his friend Sitting Bull. He started to make shows at the cave in 1934, to educate people about Lakota culture. The were named Sioux Indian Pageant and intended to promote the cavern. The Duhamel family came to this place and opened a shop named Duhamel Trading Post. This gave the Lakota people the ability to get hardware, clothing, and food they needed in exchange for artwork, crafts, and artifacts. As a result the family had very good friends among them. Many indian artworks and crafts were later donated to the Journey Museum in Rapid City and Crazy Horse Memorial near Custer by the Duhamel Family

The cave was operated by the family for many decades. After it was closed during World War II it was reopened by Bud Duhamel in 1954. He operated the cave until 1995 when he turned over at the age of 93 to his grandson, Peter Heffron. Peter Heffron intended to give the cave to the next generation of the family, but it seems there is no one to take over. So the cave was closed at the end of the 2015 season and the cave property is for sale.