This memorial often gets compared to Mount Rushmore, and even though it’s not even completed yet, it just might be the cooler of the two. It’s a lot bigger, yet there is less fanfare around it, so the experience of seeing this mountain-sized monument appear out of nowhere in the distance is a lot more epic. It’s also cool that visitors get to see how much care and effort goes into the ongoing creation of the memorial. Plus, it’s a great place to learn about the life of Crazy Horse.
“honoring the heritage of north american indians”
Sure, Mount Rushmore is impressive, but a mere 15 miles away, an even more impressive monument is in the works...and has been for 66 years. When completed, it's slated to be the world's biggest sculpture; but it's far from being finished. When the statue, which depicts Oglala Lakota warrior Crazy Horse, is done, it'll stand 563 feet tall and 641 feet wide. His head alone is 87 feet-- for comparison, the faces of the presidents on Mount Rushmore are only 60 feet. But what's taking so long to carve it? That may have something to do with the fact that the statue, funded by a not-for-profit organization, is being carefully planned and carved by one family, essentially. It all began way back in 1939, when Lakota elder Henry Standing Bear wrote to Korczak Ziolkowski, who had helped to carve Mount Rushmore in the 20's, asking him to help with a project to memorialize Crazy Horse. Ziolkowski agreed, and the two began to scout for a location. Despite the fact that the rock in the Tetons of Wyoming was better for carving, they settled on a location in the Black Hills, which are sacred to the Lakota. Construction began in 1948, and Ziolkowski chipped away the the mountain until his death in 1982. After that, his widow Ruth and 7 of his kids took over, slightly altering some of the original plans-- for example, Ruth decided that the face should be completed first, hoping that it would attract more tourists. In 1998, the face was completed and dedicated. In 2009, work stopped for two years of detailed measuring and planning, and recommenced in 2011. Sadly, Ruth passed away in May, but the work continues. Once fully completed, the Crazy Horse Mountain Memorial will be only one aspect of a cultural/educational center, complete with University of South Dakota satellite campus. In the meantime, people are still encouraged to come to the visitor's center and to check out the gradual progress being made on the statue. Days when big blasts are scheduled are often big events as well, with thousands flocking to the site to watch the clock count down and the ensuing explosion. The project isn't without controversy, though. Crazy Horse purposefully avoided having his picture taken, and made sure that no one knew the location of his grave, so the idea of making a ginormous statue of him has rustled some feathers. Others have taken issue with the fact that the natural beauty of the mountain is being ruined with a man-made sculpture. Either way, the memorial will definitely draw attention to and hopefully educate people on the Lakota culture...if it's ever completed.
I wasn't sure as to what to expect. This is a phenomenal memorial that is still being carved. It's like seeing history in the making. You can read all about, it so I am not going to give you a history lesson. I will however suggest that you go to Mt. Rushmore first because we did it the other way and when we saw Rushmore we were like "it's so tiny in comparison."
Watch the video in the center, it's great information and entertaining. The memorial is all funded from donations and such. This is not federally or state funded. I like to see my money going to something I want it to go to.
FYI-MILITARY GET IN FREE
Fantastic open areas to view, nice large displays and food is available. Parking was great, we were hauling a trailer and they are pet friendly.
We just visited again (May 2015) after initially seeing the monument about 15 years ago. I was concerned after reading the disparaging review above, but our experience was vastly different. We were charged a small fee upon entering (especially small since we were driving a motorhome and towing a car). We also rode the bus to the base of the mountain, and it was only $12 for the 3 of us. The driver was fabulous, stopped several times for pictures, answered all of our questions, and pointed out many other things of interest.
For those who think they can see all there is to see from the road are truly missing out. Without learning the history behind this undertaking you won't understand what a monumental commitment this family has undertaken. Crazy Horses's head is so large that all of Mt. Rushmore can fit inside it, and it was carved out of the mountain by one man. No government teams and no government money. Is there any question why it's taking a long time? As of now, there are only 7-10 people working on the mountain each working day.
Crazy Horse can use our help. They are completely funded by donations. It was fascinating to see how much progress has been completed since we first experienced it 15 years ago. Now, with new technology, this sculpture could be completed in the next 25 years! Watch the video, read the posters and experience each stage of completion.......it's fabulous.
I disagree with the folks who complained about the entrance fee. This monument is completely privately funded. The story of the sculptor and his family is simply fascinating. So much history it brought tears to my eyes. I hope that I will get to revisit Crazy Horse in my lifetime to see how far they get. We also had the privilege to see 3 Lakota women do hoop dances and learn a bit about the Lakota heritage. For a small donation I got to choose a large rock from the monument to bring home and place in my garden. I'm a rock collector, so I was thrilled! The rock is gorgeous!
Admission is $11 per person or $28 per carload (buses $50). I recommend checking out the sculptors studio for some very interesting and unexpected treasures. The history behind this monument is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. A must see if you are in the area.
We were looking forward to this stop on our trip and we're waiting in line at the entrance and realized that we could see the monument still under construction from that vantage point. Many thanks to the ladies in the Honda in front of us for taking so much time; and saving us the admission fee!! Until they complete this, it doesn't warrant the price.
A carload is $28 and well worth every cent! The museums and gift shops have authentic Native American art. we were fortunate enough to see a family of NA dancers--who shared history and culture. The vision and respect of the sculptor and his family is evident. Plan on a couple hours here!
Coolest place to stop in rushmore area!
The Volksmarch is a must do at Crazy Horse! Twice a year they allow hikers all the way to the top and out on the arm. Check the website for the fall and spring dates. This was a great adventure for me and my son, even in the rain.
We caught a break and got in free but it would have been well worth the admission price. This is a massive undertaking by one man and his family. While the Sioux leadership participated in the initial planning and vision, I am not sure how involved they are at this point as the work on the monument and operation of the memorial is dominated by the artist's family. Still, it is a must stop. The art and displays are great; the shops full of original crafts; the restaurant has good food at reasonable prices. Most important, the view of the monument is wonderful and the visioning process then and in the future is laid out and brings the monument into clearer focus.
We visited Crazy Horse after Mt. Rushmore and were amazed by the complexity of the ongoing work. It is especially amazing since the sculptor's wife and children have carried on the legacy. The scope of the work is incredible. The movie is a must and the artifacts in the museum are beautiful. We would have liked to take the bus tour, but it was not within our budget. Twice a year they allow visitors to hike up to the mountain and we just missed the summer date this year. We hope to plan another trip around one of those dates in the future.
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Crazy Horse Mountain Memorial
- Sun - Sat: 7:00 am - 9:30 pm
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Good for backpackers and cultural-travelers.
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