The Ultimate Guide To Crazy Horse Memorial
Crazy Horse Memorial, on its way to being the largest mountain sculpture on the globe!
Engraved into the Black Hills of South Dakota is a gigantic sculpture of Crazy Horse, a legendry warrior and Sioux Indian Chief, being built as a tribute to the exemplary leader and as a symbol of Native American culture and tradition!
Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, a few miles from Mount Rushmore National Memorial, is the looming Crazy Horse Memorial, which measures about 564 feet tall and 640 feet wide. Upon the commencement of the construction of the Mount Rushmore Memorial, the Native American Indians also wanted to honor their hero and commemorate the achievements and contributions of the Native American Tribes.
Crazy Horse was a fearless warrior who fought several battles against the European Americans and the US Army. Crazy Horse and the Lakota people opposed the US government overstepping the tribal lands and its interference in the traditional way of life of the Native American Indians. The legendry warrior was later honored by the US Government by featuring him on the Great American series postage stamps, and he will now live forever on the Black Hills of South Dakota!
The Crazy Horse Memorial is being constructed without any help from the federal government and being financed only using the donations and entrance fees collected from the visitors. Given the size of the sculpture and without any financial aid from the government, the construction process is going to take a while, but once complete, the Crazy Horse Memorial will be the only one of its kind!
Though the construction is far from being complete, the Crazy Horse Memorial is open to the public and a must-see in South Dakota!
The Crazy Horse Memorial was designed by a renowned Polish-American sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski, who passed away in 1982 without completing the sculptor. However, his family, including his wife and children, has since taken over the project and continues to oversee the construction. Though currently just the face and the head are complete, the view of such a grandeur sculpture is a sight to behold! The Crazy Horse Memorial features a visitor center, a museum, laser light shows, and two excellent tours offering close-up views of the Memorial.
Here is my ultimate guide to Crazy Horse Memorial, featuring essential trip-planning information, things to do in Crazy Horse, nearby attractions, and recommendations on hotels and restaurants near Crazy Horse Memorial!
Planning Your Trip To Crazy Horse Memorial
While Summer is the peak season, the shoulder seasons of Spring and Fall are a great choice to beat the crowd at Crazy Horse Memorial!
Best Time To Visit Crazy Horse Memorial: Crazy Horse Memorial is open year-round, but the tours to the base of the sculpture and van rides to the top of the mountain are available depending on the weather and road conditions. Though Summer, June through August, is the busiest season, if you don’t mind a little cooler weather, the shoulder months, Spring and Fall, are a great choice to beat the crowd in Crazy Horse Memorial. Winters are generally cold and snowy, and bus tours may be canceled due to snow accumulation.
Time Required At Crazy Horse Memorial: There’re several ways to explore the Crazy Horse Memorial, including viewing the Memorial from the Viewing Veranda at the visitor center, a bus tour to the base of the sculpture, and a van ride to the top of the mountain to see the face of the statue up-close. If you’re planning to view the sculpture from the visitor center, a couple of hours are sufficient to see the exhibits in the museum and marvel at the sculpture from the viewing platform. However, if you plan to take a bus tour to a viewing area close to the Memorial, you would need an additional half-hour, and if you wish to take the van ride to the top, Face-to-Face experience, you would need an extra one hour.
Getting To Crazy Horse Memorial: Located in southwest South Dakota, Crazy Horse Memorial is quite far from the major international airports, making the Rapid City Regional Airport the best choice to get to the Memorial. There’re no direct Amtrak train services or Greyhound bus services to Crazy Horse Memorial or anywhere in South Dakota.
- Flight: Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP), Rapid City, South Dakota, around 45 miles from Crazy Horse Memorial, is the closest major regional airport to Crazy Horse Memorial. The Denver International Airport (DEN), Denver, Colorado, is the nearest international airport to Crazy Horse Memorial, but it’s located about 360 miles from the Memorial.
- Train: There’re no direct Amtrak train services to Crazy Horse Memorial or anywhere in South Dakota. The closest Amtrak station to Crazy Horse Memorial is in Fort Morgan, Colorado, about 300 miles from the Memorial.
- Bus: Unlike other states, Greyhound doesn’t offer bus services to South Dakota. The closest Greyhound bus stop to Crazy Horse Memorial is located about 260 miles south of Crazy Horse Memorial in Cheyenne, southeast Wyoming.
Parking In Crazy Horse Memorial: There’s ample parking available at Crazy Horse Memorial, located across the Crazy Horse Memorial Welcome Center, including compact, large, and an overflow parking lots.
Other Attractions Near Crazy Horse Memorial: Visiting Crazy Horse Memorial shouldn’t take more than half a day, so it’s a good idea to add a few other attractions to your Crazy Horse itinerary, including Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, and Wind Cave National Park.
Lodging Near Crazy Horse Memorial: There’s no lodging inside the Memorial, but you will find a campground and quite a few hotels and bread and breakfasts in the town of Custer and Keystone, close to Crazy Horse Memorial.
- Custer Crazy Horse Campground
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Custer
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Mt Rushmore
- Baymont by Wyndham Keystone
Dining Options Near Crazy Horse Memorial: On your visit to Crazy Horse Memorial, you must try the Laughing Water Restaurant located inside the Memorial campus, serving great food with spectacular views of the sculpture. You will also find a few more dining options in the nearby town of Custer, including Black Hills Burger and Bun Co. serving comfort food, Skogen Kitchen for American fare, and Purple Pie Place for yummy desserts.
Things To Do In Crazy Horse Memorial
Marvel at the sculpture, explore the several museums and the Sculptor Home & Studio, take a tour to get close-up views of the Memorial, and return in the evening to see the Laser Show!
You don’t need a lot of time to see the Crazy Horse Memorial. If you’re working with a tight schedule, consider exploring the Museum and see the sculpture from the Viewing Veranda instead of taking a tour. If you have 3 – 4 hours, which is the minimum I recommend spending at Crazy Horse Memorial, you could additionally explore the Sculptor Home & Workshop and take one of the two tours that are offered at the Memorial. If you’re staying close to Crazy Horse Memorial, make sure to come back to the Memorial in the evening for the spectacular Laser Show!
Crazy Horse Memorial Visitor & Welcome Center: You enter the Memorial through the Crazy Horse Welcome Center, located right across the parking lot. This is where you would pay the entrance fee and purchase your bus tour tickets. There’re two small theaters inside the visitor center that plays a short video about the history and construction process of the Memorial.
Museums In Crazy Horse Memorial: There’re three museums in Crazy Horse Memorial, with several exhibits showcasing the Native American culture and traditions and the history behind the sculpture and the construction process.
- Indian Museum Of North America: Located adjacent to the Crazy Horse Memorial Welcome Center, the Indian Museum of North America features an extensive collection of artwork and artifacts highlighting Native American culture, their way of life, and traditional practices.
- Mountain Carving Gallery: The Mountain Carving Gallery offers a look into the history of the mountain carving process at Crazy Horse Memorial. Several exhibits, including original tools used by Korczak, miniature models, and methods used in the initial days in the absence of modern tools, tell a lot about the vision and hardship behind the creation of this gigantic sculpture.
- Ziolkowski Family Life Collection: Throughout the Crazy Horse Memorial, there’re various exhibits and artifacts pertaining to the Ziolkowski family, their devotion, and determination behind the creation of Crazy Horse Memorial.
Sculptor’s Workshop & Family Home: Inside the Crazy Horse Memorial campus is the original log home where Ziolkowski and his family lived and is still used by his descendants. Right next to the Family Home is Ziolkowski’s workshop, where he continued his work during the winter months when it was not possible to work at the mountain. The Sculptor’s Studio includes exhibits related to Ziolkowski’s artwork, tools, and the casts that he used for his work.
Viewing Veranda: Located past the gift shop on the west side of the Crazy Horse Memorial campus is an open space that offers distant but clear views of the Crazy Horse sculpture. Here on the Veranda, you will find a smaller model of Crazy Horse Memorial, sculpted by Ziolkowski, which is how the mountain sculpture would look like when complete. Tractional native performances are also held in the Viewing Veranda, and right across the Veranda is the Laughing Water Restaurant.
Crazy Horse Memorial Sculpture Tours: The actual Crazy Horse sculpture is located about 3/4 of a mile from the Memorial campus. However, there’re two sculpture viewing tours at Crazy Horse Memorial that allow you to see the sculpture up close.
- Bus To Base / Rustic Bus Rides: Starting near the Welcome Center, the Rustic Bus Tour takes you to the base of the Crazy Horse Memorial, offering close-up views of the sculpture. This is a short trip that takes about half an hour, and the tour tickets can be purchased at the Welcome Center.
- Van Ride To The Mountain Top / Face-To-Face: The Face-to-Face Tour offers an excellent opportunity to ride a van to the top of the mountain where you actually stand face-to-face with Crazy Horse! The Face-to-Face Tours also start at the Welcome Center and are available through a charitable donation to Crazy Horse Memorial. You can find the tour schedule and other details on the Crazy Horse Memorial website.
Legends In Light Laser Show: The Legends in Light is a spectacular laser show at Crazy Horse Memorial, with amazing colorful animations created using laser projections on the mountain wall accompanied by storytelling and narrations. The laser show is one of the best experiences offered in Crazy Horse Memorial, and if you’re staying close to the Memorial, I highly recommend coming back at dusk for the Legends in Light show. However, the laser shows are seasonal and offered only from Memorial Day Weekend through September.
Laughing Water Restaurant: The only restaurant inside the Crazy Horse Memorial campus, the Laughing Water Restaurant features a snack shop and elegant dining room. The restaurant offers impressive views of the Crazy Horse structures through its expansive glass windows and serves Native American delicacies.
Other South Dakota Attractions & Related Posts
I hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate Guide To Crazy Horse Memorial, and I hope this will help you plan your trip to Crazy Horse Memorial. You can find other South Dakota attractions in my South Dakota Travel Guide.
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