Thunder Head Underground Falls

Useful Information

Location: Rapid City, SD.
On Hwy 44 about 16 km west of Rapid City.
Open: MAY to OCT daily during daylight hours.
Closed during snow fall.
Fee: Adults USD 5.75, Children (7-13) USD 2.75, Children (0-6) free.
Plus tax.
Classification: MineGold Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided, D=30 min.
Address: Thunder Head Underground Falls, Rapid City, SD 57702, Tel: +1-605-343-0081. 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.


1881 claim filed by the Ft. Meade Hydraulic Gold Mining Company.
1949 rediscovered by Albert and Vera Eklund and opened to the public.
1950 opened to the public.


The highlight of Thunder Head Underground Falls is, as the name says, a huge subterranean waterfall. A 10 m high underground cascade makes the visit to this mine loud, cool and damp. So this is not a typical show mine with miners tools and mining equipment. The fun is primarly based on the roaring water.

The area around todays Rapid City was explored in 1874 by the Custer Expedition. Only a few years later gold mining in the area started. The exact date is unknown, as the mine claim was filed in 1881 but at this time the mine was already in operation for some years. A map was added to the claim, which showed the existing mine tunnel. The claim was filed by Ft. Meade Hydraulic Mining Company, who worked the mine until 1900. The area had several placer mining operations, but the mine shaft seems to have been a try to find the mother lode. Unfortunately the lode was never found at Thunderhead.

The tunnel was rediscovered by Vera Eklund when she was on a ride on the old Crouch line, a sightseeing railway running from Rapid City to Mystic. She noticed a curious stream of water pouring from the side of a mountain. She convince her husband Albert Eklund to spend some time searching this curiosity. They discovered a horizontal tunnel ending at roaring a waterfall. The saw the possibilities, purchased the land, constructed a road and opened it to the public.