Why Storybook Island is the Black Hills’ BEST Park for Kids

Posted By Allison on Jun 6, 2013

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Hey there!

Are you headed to the Black Hills with young children? You’ll want to know about Storybook Island in Rapid City.

Storybook Island in Rapid City, South Dakota is one of the best parks for families I’ve ever seen. If your family is planning a trip to Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills, consider making time for this fun family attraction.

Here is what you need to know about visiting Storybook Island.

Headed to the Black Hills with children? You'll want to know about Storybook Park in Rapid City, South Dakota | tipsforfamilytrips.com | summer vacation | family travel

Why it’s called “Storybook Island”

This charming park strives to inspire imaginations. Nearly every toy at Storybook Island honors a classic children’s book or nursery rhyme. Our family recognized characters or scenes from Humpty Dumpty, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Wizard of Oz, The Cat in the Hat, Winnie the Pooh, Bambi, Peter Pan, and more.

Headed to the Black Hills with children? You'll want to know about Storybook Park in Rapid City, South Dakota | tipsforfamilytrips.com | summer vacation | family travel

Storybook Island is FREE!

Storybook Island was one of my kids’ favorite attractions during our Black Hills road trip, and it didn’t cost us a cent. The Rapid City Rotary Clubs opened the park in 1959 and it has been operating as a free, non-profit park ever since. If you would like to help the park continue its mission, make purchases at the gift shop or concession stand, or make a donation.

Plan at least 2 hours

Expect to spend at least two hours exploring the park’s 8.5 acres. We took our time and spent about half a day, including our picnic lunch afterward.

Storybook Island

Storybook Island is best for children under 12

Storybook Island is a play park geared toward younger children. Expect slides of various sizes, little houses to explore, and photo ops with statues of characters from children’s literature. There is only one ride – a train (see below).

The “young-at-heart” who are visiting the Black Hills without children may appreciate the old-fashioned, low-tech charm of this whimsical attraction. However, what most adults and teens will enjoy most about Storybook Island is watching the enjoyment of their young children and siblings.

Storybook Island is built for play

As I look at my photos from our visit to Storybook Island, I notice a lot more wear and chipped paint on the toys than I remember. Children are allowed to climb on just about everything at this park, and that’s one of the things that make it special.

Storybook Island

Storybook Island is only open during the summer

Summer is the peak tourist season in Rapid City, and it is the season with the most reliably warm weather. Storybook Island opens Memorial Day Weekend at the end of May and closes Labor Day Weekend at the beginning of September each year.

Bring a picnic

Food and drinks are not allowed inside the gates, but there is a shaded grassy area with picnic tables outside the gates. Eat your picnic before you go in, or keep it in a cooler in your car for afterward. This was a pleasant way for us to finish our morning at Storybook Island. The park also has a full-service concession stand inside the gates.

Storybook Island

Good to Know

Where: 1301 Sheridan Lake Road, Rapid City, South Dakota

When: 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. every day, weather permitting. Storybook Island is only open during the summer – late May through early September.

How Much: FREE, though donations of any size are gratefully accepted.

How Long: 2-4 hours

Amenities: Gift shop, concessions, and restrooms inside the parks. Picnic tables outside the gates.

Website: www.storybookisland.org

Headed to the Black Hills with children? You'll want to know about Storybook Park in Rapid City, South Dakota | tipsforfamilytrips.com | summer vacation | family travel

Good to Know

Where: 13820 S. Highway 16, Rapid City, South Dakota. It’s on the way to Mount Rushmore from Rapid City.

When: Bear Country is open daily from late April through late November, weather permitting.

How Much: $17 per adult and $11 per child (age 5-12), up to $65 maximum per vehicle. Admission is FREE for children age 4 and under. Senior, military and group discounts are available. Check Bear Country U.S.A.’s official website for current pricing.

How Long: 2-3 hours

Amenities: restrooms, gift shop, cafe, picnic area, family activities

Website: www.bearcountryusa.com

How else can I help?

Traveling by air? Rapid City Regional Airport is the nearest airport to the Black Hills. Denver International is the nearest major airport. We recommend SkyScanner or AirfareWatchdog to compare fares from major airlines. Then book directly from the airline, rather than a 3rd party site. Find out why HERE.

Need a rental car? Driving your own car is the best way to see Bear Country U.S.A and the Black Hills. Find the best rates from dozens of agencies at RentalCars.com.

Need a place to stay? Rapid City makes a good base for this trip. It’s the biggest city in the area, with a wide selection of hotels, restaurants, shopping and other vacation amenities. Wherever you stay, get a room with an in-room refrigerator so that you can store picnic supplies.  We stayed at Howard Johnson Inn and Suites and would stay there again. Click the buttons below to read my review or check availability for this hotel on TripAdvisor.

Want more ideas for your Black Hills vacation? Check out my Black Hills Itinerary for families or my South Dakota Pinterest board!

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Hi there! I am the founder of Tips for Family Trips. I am a married mom of two children, ages 10 and 12, living near Salt Lake City, Utah. We took our first child on a two-week road trip when she was four weeks old and we have been traveling as a family ever since. We love to get out of the house to see and do fun things, both far away and in our own neighborhood.


  1. Oh my gosh! I am totally going here! I love places like this!

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  2. My family and I lived in Rapid City for 3 years and Storybook Island was always one of our favorite places to go. I went there as a child and was thrilled to take my son here too. If you can make it during the holiday season don’t miss Christmas Night of Lights, the whole park is beautifully lit up and decorated. Magical!

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  3. I lived at the Nike site outside the air force base and as a kid in the early 70’s me and my brother went to 2 places. Rocket slide park and storybook island. Until the flood came of course.

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