3 Reasons You Should Visit the Black Hills Mining Museum

It was Day 6 of our South Dakota Road Trip. That morning, we checked out of Airbnb in Hill City, SD, drove to Cheyenne Crossing for a delicious breakfast (Foodie Travelers, check out Restaurant Roundup for a detailed review of Cheyenne Crossing). Then, we headed to Lead, SD to visit the Black Hills Mining Museum. We enjoyed our time at the museum so much that Buddy and I are sharing the Top 3 reasons you should visit the Black Hills Mining Museum.

This is not a paid promotion. We are writing this blog because we really enjoyed this museum. All views and opinions expressed here are our own. All photos are our own and remain the copyright of MPA Project Travels.

The Black Hills Mining Museum is located at 323 W. Main St U.S. 85 in Lead, South Dakota. The Museum is open May-September and in the winter by reservation only. There is ample free street parking near the museum. Parking was easy to find on a Wednesday in July. We parked only a few steps from the museum’s entrance, which was especially helpful because it was raining when we arrived!

Buddy, a teen with brown hair in a gray sweatshirt scowls while holding a sign that says Wanted for Gold Robbery. Black Hills Mining Museum. MPA Project Travels.
Buddy at the Black Hills Mining Museum

Top 3 Reasons You Should Visit the Black Hills Mining Museum

1. The Guided Simulated Mine Tour

If you like learning about the history of the places you visit while on vacation, the Black Hills Mining Museum Guided Simulated Mine Tour is for you! On this tour, you will hear many stories about the history and people of the Lead community. The stories are shared by a local with personal ties to the mine. We highly recommend the Guided Simulated Mine Tour when you visit the Black Hills Mining Museum.

The Black Hills Mining Museum has two options for admission. 1) the Main Floor Museum 2) the Main Floor Museum + a 45- minute Guided Simulated Mine Tour. We opted for the Guided Simulated Mine Tour and hands down, it was the best part of the museum.

“I loved the simulated in person mine experience and tour.”


Deidra, our tour guide, was absolutely incredible. Not only was she knowledgeable about the history of the mine and the museum. But she also had personal and family connections to the mine that she shared with us. Her father, grandfather, husband, and in-laws were all miners. Deidra shared their stories while on the mine tour. She noted specific details like where they worked in the mine when showing a drawing of the mine’s lay out. Or what they used for work when showing us a collection of former equipment from the mine.

Diedra also shared that she went to high school with one of the first women miners. This story came up on the tour when she was sharing a replica of the mine’s red wagon.

 A male identified mannequin with a black goatee and glasses wearing a plaid shirt and jeans and a hard hat sits on a red wagon holding a roll of toilet paper. Behind is a gray wall simulating a rock. Black Hills Mining Museum. MPA Project Travels.
The Red Wagon in the Black Hills Mining Museum

Diedra was truly an incredible tour guide. Her willingness to share stories from her family and community made the tour extra special.  She truly knew the subject matter from experience. It was a joy to hear these firsthand stories.

Another incredible aspect of this tour was that the tour group itself was small. On the tour there was a grand total of 6 people, including Diedra. And we were the only tour group in the simulated mine at the time. This made for a much more intimate tour. It was easy to see everything, and it was much easier to ask questions.

Buddy says “I loved the simulated in person mine experience and tour.”

2. All things Local

For travelers who like to support local businesses and communities when you travel, the Black Hills Mining Museum is a perfect spot!

The Black Hills Mining Museum is run by a local non-profit organization. Visiting the Museum is not only a great way to learn about Lead’s history, but it is also a fantastic way to give back to the community that you are visiting.

And if you are interested in local histories and community stories, this is the place for you!

Buddy a teenage boy in gray shorts and a light gray sweatshirt and blue sandals looks at an old wooden telephone switchboard at the Black Hills Mining Museum. MPA Project Travels.
Buddy viewing the Telephone Switchboard used at the Homestake Gold Mine from 1906-1992

If you don’t have time for a Guided Simulated Mine Tour, but you are still interested in learning about the history of Lead, the Main Floor Museum is a great place to visit. The museum exhibits highlight the history of Lead and its people. And it’s not all about the mine. There are a nice range of exhibits highlighting everything from the town’s old census records to their baseball team. I especially enjoyed the historic photos from the town’s high school. And Buddy was fascinated by the mine’s old telephone switch board.

3. You can pan for gold

If you ever wanted to try panning for gold, the Black Hills Mining Museum is the place to do it! Outside of the museum, there is a place to pan for gold. It is an experience offered to people of all ages. Best of all, you get to keep any gold you find!

Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to pan for gold during our visit to the museum. We were pressed for time as we were heading to Devil’s Tower, WY later that afternoon. But, we look forward to panning for gold the next time we visit!

Why did we choose the Black Hills Mining Museum?

Given that our trip to South Dakota was fairly short, we only had one day to visit either Deadwood, Sturgis, or Lead. We specifically picked Lead because of the Black Hills Mining Museum. Here’s why.

As I shared in a previous post, when planning a trip, Buddy is engaged in the decision-making process that way we choose places to visit that we all are excited to see. After being presented with different options of things to do and places to visit that morning, Buddy chose the Black Hills Mining Museum.

A black white and red sign that says Danger. Do not touch. Not only will this kill you, it will hurt the whole time you are dying. Black Hills Mining Museum. MPA Project Travels.
Buddy took this photo at the Black Hills Mining Museum. He says it was his “favorite part of the museum.”

Sal also voted for the museum as his first choice too. This is because Sal’s father, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers were copper miners from Southern Arizona and Northern Mexico. If there is a mine at a place we visit while traveling, we usually go. We have been to mines or mine museums in Bisbee, AZ, Valencia, Guanajuato, Mexico, and Chicago.

Sal, a man in jeans and a black baseball hat and gray long sleeve shirt views an exhibit called "Fire in the Hole" at the Black Hills Mining Museum.
Sal at the Black Hills Mining Museum

It is interesting to see the similarities between the different mines. For example, we were gifted a mining lantern that Sal’s grandfather used in the Cananea Copper Mine in Mexico. We saw the exact same lantern on display in Lead, SD. I also thought it was interesting that there was a retired coal miner from West Virginia on our mine tour. It was a bit serendipitous to be on a mining tour with people from very different backgrounds and geographic regions yet who all shared a heritage of mining.

Movement Postcard

We did not film a Movement Postcard at the Museum because we did not feel like it was appropriate. However, we are sharing a Movement Postcard from Custer State Park instead! Check it out!

What mines have you visited? Have you ever panned for gold?  And which mine should we visit next? Let us know in the comments below.

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MPA Project Travels

Hello! We are Yvonne & Buddy and we create family travel blogs based on firsthand knowledge and experiences of a destination. Our goal is to inspire teens, parents, and families to share time together engaging in new experiences whether the destination is near or far from home. Come join us on our travels!

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