In an effort to honor the rich heritage and traditions of Native Americans, Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear set out to carve a mountain just south of Mount Rushmore. In 1948, the two men agreed that this monument would be carved without any federal funding. Korczak and a handful of others began blasting the mountain and removing the rock.
Ziolkowski died in 1982 but his family, led by his widow Ruth, continues to work on his great vision. The face of Crazy Horse was dedicated in 1998 and today precision blasting is carving out the features of his horse. When completed, the mountain will be 563-feet high and carved in the round.
Korczak Ziolkowski wanted more than just a mountain carving. His 220-page master plan included museums, a medical school and training center, recreation area and an Avenue of Chiefs that would be lined with sculptural portraits of great Lakota and Native American leaders. His family plans to continue to work until this vision is realized.
Today, the Crazy Horse Memorial campus offers visitors breath-taking views of the ongoing carving from its viewing veranda. The campus also includes an Indian Museum of North America, gift shop, welcome center, Native American Cultural Center, conference facilities and the Laughing Water Restaurant. During the summer, visitors can watch a laser light show and two special night blasts. The first blast, held every year on June 26th, celebrates the birthday of Ruth Ziolkowski and the anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. The second blast, held September 6th, celebrates the dual anniversaries of the 1877 death of Crazy Horse and of the 1908 birth of sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski.
Location: approx. 5 minutes north of Custer on SD HWY16
Hours/Seasonality: Open year-round.
Fees/Reservations: $11 – Adults/ Under 6-years of age FREE or $28 - Carload (whichever is better for you); Mid-October through early June, admission is free with three cans of food per person for the KOTA Care & Share Food Drive.