When it’s completed, the Crazy Horse monument will be the second largest sculpture in the world. Currently, only the head of the Native American warrior is finished. It is 87 feet high, exceeding the height of each president’s head at Mount Rushmore by 27 feet. The purposeful scale of the sculpture speaks to the Lakota warrior’s legacy as a fierce and unyielding leader.
Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski dreamed of honoring his tribal ancestor with an immense mountain-sized statue. He traded 900 acres of his land for the desolate, undeveloped site and began construction in 1948. Ziolkowski died in 1982, and his widow Ruth took over the project. She changed the plans slightly by focusing on sculpting the face of Crazy Horse first, rather than the horse as the original plan had called for. She wisely figured that having the face finished would bring more tourists and thus generate revenue to fund continuing work on the project.
The museum and visitor center provide a great deal of historical information about the saga of Crazy Horse and how the memorial came to be. It is quite an amazing story. There is a video presentation that is very informative and you can also view some of the tools used in the earlier years. You can even touch some of the blasted rock for a small donation which is very cool. The museum and visitor center are free but the lighted exhibits on the memorial itself are an additional fee of about $125 per person.
In the summer, the park hosts a laser light show at night on the mountain that is absolutely spectacular. The show lasts about 30 minutes and is accompanied by music. It is well worth the extra cost to experience this.
Although the sculpture is far from completed, it is fascinating to see how it’s coming along. Thousands of people visit the memorial each year, contributing millions of dollars in admission fees to the workers who are keeping the project alive. The museum and lighted displays are a must-see for anyone visiting the area. The memorial is located near Mt Rushmore in South Dakota at 12151 Ave of the Chiefs, Crazy Horse, SD 57730. The memorial is open 365 days a year and admission costs are $35 for cars with three or more people and $12 for individuals. Parking is included in the price of admission. You can also purchase a souvenir photo for an additional charge. Children 5 and under are free. Reservations are recommended, especially during the summer. For more information, visit their website.