Hidden messages, secret codes, and trap doors are only a few of the things you might encounter in the latest group activity to hit the Black Hills. For those of you who have yet to experience an escape room, I highly recommend you get a group together and go get your sleuthing on. Starting in 2006, escape rooms have become popular all around the world and there are currently two businesses in Rapid City offering the challenge. Rapid Escape and Black Hills Escape Rooms both have numerous rooms with very different puzzles to solve. The best part about an escape room is that you need a group of people, and in today’s world of technology it’s a great opportunity to get out with friends. The Rooms The reason you need multiple people is each escape room is timed and in order to succeed you have to escape in a specific amount of time. Having been to both Rapid City venues, I can say it would be tough for any single person to solve all the puzzles alone. Only by drawing on the combined knowledge of a group of 2-8 people can you hope to escape on time.The puzzles vary from venue to venue and room to room. Some puzzle makers even begin to take on a certain style that can help you solve future problems. You’ll see a lot of padlocks, combo locks, numbers, and possibly even a laser pointer or EMF detector, all standing between you and the way out. I can’t speak for all rooms, and I wouldn’t want to give the secrets away, but some rooms I’ve been in have included second or even third rooms within one experience. Rapid Escape Located at 420 East St. Patrick Street, when you first enter Rapid Escape be sure to check out all the quotes on the wall from previous escapees. They aren’t particularly helpful in terms of escaping, but they can give you a little insight into what you’re about to experience. They currently have two escape rooms, "Where in the World" and "Old West." At Rapid Escape, the first key you’re given will be to a locked chest outside that contains your cellphones as they aren’t allowed inside the rooms. Once inside, you’ll be under the watchful eye of a staff member via camera system. You have the option to ask for a clue which will be relayed to you via a monitor in the room. All party members have to face the camera and agree to receive the clue, otherwise none will be given. This was something I hadn’t seen before that I really liked. Myself and some co-workers had the pleasure of escaping from the Where in the World Room, and I say that with some hesitation as we only had 3 minutes left on the clock at the end. Without giving anything away, I will say that my favorite obstacle had something to do with the vintage piano in the room. Black Hills Escape Rooms Located in Downtown Rapid City, Black Hills Escape Rooms has four rooms to choose from, each a little harder than the next. Their first room is "Murder in Saloon #10" where you track down Wild Bill’s assassin. They have two identical setups for this room in case two groups want to race. I experienced their "Ghost of the Black Hills" room which is modeled after room 812 in the Alex Johnson Hotel. For those of you that don’t know, room 812 is supposedly haunted by a lady in white who committed suicide in the 1970s, and in this room you help her via communicating with the other side. Be prepared to use some interesting gadgets and solve a lot of combination locks through various methods. While I didn’t experience it first hand, a group of friends also tackled the "Treasure at Mt Rushmore" room and from their stories I gathered it’s quite difficult and has something to do with the Constitution and free masons. Currently their hardest room is "Terrorism @ Holy Terror Gold Mine" where you have 80 minutes to stop a nuke from detonating in western SD. I spoke with one of the staff that said three employees barely made it out on time despite knowing half of the clues before they even started. So if you take on Holy Terror, be sure to come with your A game and plenty of clever friends. All in all, if you haven’t tried an escape room yet the Black Hills has a great variety to choose from. From chasing a thief around the world at Rapid Escape or stopping a nuke threat at Black Hills Escape Rooms, your whole group is sure to have fun!