Visit Crazy Horse Memorial
Mount Rushmore is a classic South Dakota road trip staple that everyone puts on their list of places to visit. But many people may not know that another monument graces the skyline of the Black Hills. Crazy Horse Memorial is a work in progress monument that looks down on Custer while fitting right into the Custer State Park skyline.
The Crazy Horse Memorial is a tribute to the Lakota warrior of the same name who was known for standing up to the United States Federal government for encroachment on the Native American way of life and land. The towering monument dedicated to him will stand at 641 feet long and 563 feet high. The heads at Mount Rushmore National Memorial currently stand at 60 feet high. The Crazy Horse Memorial was created and started by sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski in 1948. The face of Crazy Horse, which stands at 87 ½ feet high, was completed in 1998 and since workers have focused on thinning the rest of the mountain by blasting rock away to form the 219-foot-high horse’s head.
Crazy Horse Memorial is not only a memorial to the past Crazy Horse warrior, it also serves as a way to educate visitors and honor the Lakota people. The Indian Museum of North America is also housed here, along with the Welcome Center and Native American Educational and Cultural Center. The Cultural Center features more than 12,000 contemporary and historic items, from pre-Colombian to contemporary times, allowing visitors to browse and learn the history of the Lakota people and Crazy Horse’s life. Recently added is the Mountain Museum wing that gives some insight into the work that goes into creating the massive monument.
Crazy Horse Memorial often hosts blasting ceremonies where guests are invited to come witness history in the making as they blast more rock away from the mountain and continue carving into it. During the peak season, each night the memorial continues the storytelling by hosting a “Legends in Light” laser show on the side of the mountain for guests to learn more about the warrior legend.
Crazy Horse Memorial is nestled in the heart of the Hills and is surrounded by a mountainous landscape that lends itself to some top notch riding. Highway 385 connects Custer and Hill City, both towns that are worth a visit and are charming for visitors and locals alike. The ride from Hill City to Custer, and to Crazy Horse Memorial in the middle, offers picturesque views of the Black Hills.