April 12, 2024

Dinosaur Park Opening May 1: Renovation Project Enters Final Months of Work

Dinosaur Park opens May 1 as the major renovation project enters its final weeks. Dinosaur Park opens May 1 as the major renovation project enters its final weeks. (City File Photo)


Park opens to public May 1;

Some areas remain off limits towards June completion

RAPID CITY, SD—Visitors to Rapid City’s iconic Dinosaur Park will see some big changes when the attraction opens May 1.  Renovations are entering the final phases with project completion estimated for June 21.

       The Dinosaur Park Visitor Center and parking lot will open to the public May 1.  Most of the park, including the accessible pedestrian route will be open with a few areas remaining under construction.  Contractor crews will continue construction activities through May and most of June.

        “The end is in sight and everyone is excited to witness this much-needed project enters the final stages,” said City Parks Landscape Architect Melissa Petersen.  “Much of the area is ready to go, but some important work remains to be done and we are asking the public’s patience as contactors work into June to finish the project.”

        Officials with the City’s Parks Division and MAC Construction advise the public to be mindful of the ongoing work.  Among the construction activities from the May 1 opening date to the June completion of renovations:

  • After May 1, construction activity will be largely concentrated around the Apatosaurus and upper pedestrian plaza. This area will be closed to the public until it is completed.
  • A few items (rubber surfacing underneath dinosaurs, painting the dinosaurs, landscaping) are weather-dependent so work zones will shift as weather allows. Some areas may be inaccessible on the day of your visit.
  • Project completion is scheduled for June 21. Park signs, site furniture, and a park shelter will be installed at a later date.
  • The public is prohibited from accessing work zones and are advised to be respectful of workers and the work areas.

        “We are asking visitors to be respectful of construction workers as they finish up this project,” Petersen said.  “We are asking them to not enter work zones, even after workers have left for the day.  Even if it appears safe or complete, please stay out until areas are officially opened for public access.”

        Petersen says signage will be used to prohibit public access to work areas.  “In some instances, the blocked-off area may look finished but the materials need curing time.  We want folks to understand that stepping into these areas that may look ready for the public, are not and could cause damage.

        The renovation project began in September 2022. The project includes upgrading Dinosaur Park with accessible pedestrian routes, code-compliant safety features, and new and upgraded visitor amenities including site interpretation. 

         Dinosaur Park improvements were among the items approved in the 2019 Vision Fund allocations by the City Council.  The $3.5 million project is funded with $1.6 million from the Vision Fund and the remainder from the Rapid City Parks and Recreation Department’s Capital Improvements Project (CIP) Fund and government facilities fund.

          The park was dedicated in 1936 and was constructed by city crews and the Works Progress Administration (WPA).  The dinosaur sculptures were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.  Over the years, maintenance and renovations have been made to parking, some pedestrian access, pavement and to the dinosaurs. 

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