Crazy Horse National Monument, South Dakota – The Legacy Lives On

Crazy Horse 1While in Rapid City  in June of 2015 we went to Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse National Monument. I had heard a lot about this monument but didn’t know really much about it. I am embarrassed to admit that at one point, I actually thought it was about an actual horse. Yes, I am hiding my face in shame, lol. Gladly I knew more about it when we headed out, but not much. At least I knew it was about an Indian Chief and not a horse, lol. I have to say, I learned a lot while we were there.

I will start with a little bit of the history of Crazy Horse. According to information we received while there, Crazy Horse was a member of the Teton Sioux tribe and was born around 1843. He was killed at the age of 34 at Fort Robinson by an American Indian soldier around midnight on September 5, 1877 while under a flag of truce. What people may not know was the Crazy Horse was not always known as Crazy Horse. It was originally “Curly”, apparently because he had wavy hair. He didn’t earn his father’s name, Tasunka Witco (Crazy Horse) until he proved himself in battle.

Crazy Horse 3Another interesting fact is that Crazy Horse refused to have his picture or likeness taken. He felt that by taking a picture you were taking a part of his soul and would shorten his life. Crazy Horse Memorial was developed by descriptions from survivors of the Battle of the Little Big Horn and other contemporaries of Crazy Horse the man.

The memorial creator, Korczak Ziolkowski, decided to create a monument that captured what Crazy Horse stood for instead of a true likeness based on the descriptions provided to honor the great warrior chief’s wishes. With his left hand thrown out pointing in answer to the derisive question asked by a Cavalryman, “Where are your lands now?”  he replied, “My lands are where my dead lie buried.”

Crazy Horse 2Today the memorial is continually being worked on by the Ziolkowski family and will continue for many generations. The 563-foot-high Mountain Carving will dominate the horizon. A poem written by Korczak will be carved on the Mountain in letters three feet tall and the multi-storied, 350-foot diameter, will be located closer to the Mountain. When it is finished it will be much bigger than Mount Rushmore. A note of interest is that this is not a government-funded park or monument. All the money they receive from admission fees, gift shop sales, etc is used to continue to work on their mission. They are proud to host over one million visitors per year!

We watched a very informative video in one of the theaters, then walked the grounds for a while. We saw the wonderful sculpture of what the memorial will look like when it’s done, as well as a 911 Memorial. Both were very well done and impressive. We had a great time running around and could definitely feel the pride in each exhibit. We set down and had a drink while being entertained by a group of dancers doing some ritual dances for the crowd. It was really nice.

Crazy Horse 4While reading some documentation they passed out, we learned more about the horse and Crazy Horse’s dimensions. I thought I would add it below for those that may be interested.

Crazy Horse Dimensions

Crazy Horse’s Face

87 feet, 6 inches (completed June 3, 1998)

Outstretched Arm
263 feet

Opening underarm
70 feet wide and 100 feet high

29 feet, 6 inches

Horse Dimensions

Horse’s Head
219 feet high (22 stories)

Horse’s Mane
62 feet high

Horse’s Ears
54 feet long

Horse’s Eyes
20 feet wide and 15 feet high

Horse’s Nostrils
26-foot diameter

We had our dogs with us, and they really enjoyed sitting outside and relaxing with us. We were even able to take them into the museum as long as we held them. It was a great day and I really enjoyed our visit there. I just wish it would be finished so I could see it completed. It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon. In the meantime, go and enjoy the museum and grounds and appreciate what they are accomplishing. Read more about the monument on their website.

Crazy Horse 5

Crazy Horse National Monument Visitor Center



12151 Avenue of the Chiefs, Crazy Horse, SD 57730




Hours vary depending on the season. Usual hours are from 8-5. Check their website for exact hours before your visit.


$30.00: 3 or more people in a vehicle

$24.00: 2 people in a vehicle

$12.00: 1 person in a vehicle

$7.00: Per person on a motorcycle

$7.00: Per person on a bicycle

$7.00: Per person walking

No parking fee.

Group rates available – Call group sales (605) 673-4681.

Special Tours:


Meet Crazy Horse Face-to-Face through a memorable trip to the top of the Crazy Horse Carving, available with select Charitable Gifts to Crazy Horse Memorial®. (Charitable gifts are non-refundable.)

Rustic Bus Rides

Rustic bus rides to the bottom of the Mountain, for a close-up view (weather permitting).

  • 25-minute round-trip
  • $4.00 per person
  • Age 6 and under are free


There is plenty of parking available with special parking for larger vehicles (i.e., busses, vans, and motorhomes). We even have special parking during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally for our friends on two wheels.


The facility is handicap accessible and strives to ensure all guests are accommodated at all times. Persons with disabilities who anticipate needing accommodations or who have questions about physical access may call 605-673-4681 for more information.


Crazy Horse welcomes pets and service animals, however, make sure you know the rules first. Service animals are permitted in all areas. Leashed pets are welcome at the common areas outside the Crazy Horse Memorial visitor complex. Pets must be carried or otherwise contained while inside the Welcome Center, museums, gift shop, sculptor’s home studio, and cultural center. No pets are allowed in the food service areas or on the bus rides to the bottom of the mountain. Leashed pets are allowed on the mountain carving viewing deck and the roofed, concrete floor entry leading to the deck. Owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets.


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