Crazy Horse Memorial
12151 Avenue of the Chiefs, Crazy Horse, SD 57730, USA
9 am - 4:30 pm
museums, road-trip, outdoor-adventures, local-highlights, fun-paid-activities
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Studying American cultures and history wouldn't be complete without making a concerted effort to learn about the history of Native Americans.
The Crazy Horse Memorial offers a beautiful monument to the life of an incredible man. I realize Mount Rushmore is nearby and is a much more popular destination, but I want to challenge travelers to consider that visiting the Crazy Horse Memorial may be just as important (possibly more so) than seeing Mount Rushmore. Why do I say this? Because studying and understanding Native American culture is an often overlooked part of travel culture in the US. We grew up learning all about Honest Abe, but how much did we learn about Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, or Chief Joseph? Probably not very much.
I love the outdoors, but I also love taking a detour and learning a bit of history, as well. Taking my kids to see this memorial really opened up the conversation about Native American history and all sorts of ethical discussions. It's good to stretch your brain a bit, and help your kiddos to do the same.
So, who was Crazy Horse? He was a fearless Sioux Indian Chief. He fought against the removal of his people to a proposed reservation in the Black Hills. He was a fierce protector of his people's way of life and he wasn't afraid to stand up for what he believed in. In 1876, he joined together with Cheyenne forces and later joined Sitting Bull in the infamous Battle of Little Big Horn. Crazy Horse may be gone, but his legacy lives on. Commissioned by Henry Standing Bear, the construction on this memorial began back in 1948 and has much work left to be done. It's carved out of Thunderhead Mountain in the Black Hills, on land considered sacred to some - Oglala Lakota. Once it's completed, it will be the world's second tallest statue, at 641 feet long and 563 feet tall, and is carved from pegmatite granite. The yet unfinished sculpture will eventually depict Crazy Horse riding a horse and pointing to his tribal land.
This was a somewhat spendier destination on our South Dakota itinerary, costing considerably more than Mount Rushmore, yet still less than Bear Country USA. The cost is based on number of people in your vehicle: 1 person = $12, 2 people = $24, 3 or more people = $30 and parking is free of cost. Located conveniently in the gorgeous Black Hills, it's in close proximity to other wonderful destinations, including Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, and the South Dakota State Railroad Museum. Be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to explore this gorgeous area.