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Crazy Horse monument depicts chief Crazy Horse mounted on his horse with his left arm outstretched, pointing at the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota. The face of chief Crazy Horse was completed about 20 years ago and current efforts are now focused on revealing the planned horse’s head.

More than seven decades after Polish sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski began carving Chief Crazy Horse Memorial in 1948, the monument continues to be under construction.

To date, the complete Crazy Horse monument project has been funded primarily through donations and by charging a small admission to the site. Even though the federal government offered to fund Ziolkowski’s Crazy Horse Memorial on two separate occasions, Ziolkowski and his successors gracefully declined the funding, preferring instead to keep the project non-profit.

Ziolkowski labored on the monument until his death in 1982. Today, along with operating the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation, Ziolkowski’s widow Ruth, and seven of his ten children are involved in the ongoing work at Crazy Horse monument.

Korczak Ziolkowski & Crazy Horse

Korczak Ziolkowski was a well known Polish sculpture. In the early 1940s, a number of Lakota Indian Chiefs approached Ziolkowski about creating a sculpture that could be dedicated to all North American native people. They wanted a sculpture similar to the Mount Rushmore Presidents, except that it would be a monument to honor Native Americans and to show that the Native Americans also have their share of heroes.

Ziolkowski chose to create the Crazy Horse monument at Thunderhead Mountain, in the sacred Black Hills that is part of the Native North American heritage. The monument is less than ten miles away from Mount Rushmore and is situated between Hill City and Custer.

Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse

Chief Crazy Horse was a South Dakota Lokata Sioux war leader who fought in the Black Hills War of the late 1800s against the US government in order to protect his people’s land and way of life. In June of 1876 Chief Crazy Horse teamed up with fellow war chief “Sitting Bull” in the Battle of Little Bighorn in eastern Montana. The battle was a great success for Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse and has since become infamous as “Custer’s Last Stand”.

Size of Crazy Horse Monument

Crazy Horse monument is carved in the likeness of chief Crazy Horse himself and when completed it will be the largest man-made sculpture in the world. The final sculpture is envisioned to be 641ft wide and a staggering 563ft in height. The site is also home to the Native American Cultural Center and the Indian Museum of North America.

The public has access to the Crazy Horse monument only at the time of the Volksmarch which takes place in June each year. Nearly 15,000 attend the event and the number is growing with every successive year.

One of the most interesting events to take place at the Crazy Horse Memorial site is the blasting of the rock from time to time. There are many spectators at these events waiting patiently while counting down to the blast to witness the falling of tons of rock and dust as it cascades down to the ground from the mountain high above. Many of the one million-plus visitors that visit Crazy Horse monument annually actually take pieces of the rock as mementos, which are generally obtained by giving a small donation towards the completion of the project.

All-Inclusive Tours by Caravan

Crazy Horse monument is included as part of Caravan Tours’ all-inclusive Yellowstone National Park Tour. These fully escorted, 8-day all-inclusive tours are exceptionally priced, and also include Mount Rushmore, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, and a Grand Teton float trip.

Visit Caravan’s Yellowstone National Park Tour Reviews page to read what others have said about Crazy Horse monument and Caravan’s all-inclusive Yellowstone National Park tours.

To book this tour, call Caravan toll-free at 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826).

The World’s Largest Sculpture

Chief Crazy Horse Monument has been continually under construction in the Black Hills of South Dakota since 1948. Chief Crazy Horse Memorial is a mountain sculpture dedicated to Chief Crazy Horse, an Oglala Lakota (Sioux Indian) warrior.

Once completed, the Crazy Horse South Dakota monument will depict the upper torso of Chief Crazy Horse mounted on his horse, with his arm outstretched and pointing towards the “land of his ancestors.” The construction is still in progress.

Who Was Chief Crazy Horse?

Chief Crazy Horse and Chief Sitting Bull have gone down in history as the leaders of the Sioux uprising that defeated General Custer in the Battle of Little Big Horn, otherwise known as “Custer’s Last Stand.”

The Crazy Horse mountain memorial includes:

  • Chief Crazy Horse Monument
  • Native American Cultural Center
  • The Indian Museum of North America
  • Crazy Horse Monument History

The Mount Rushmore Monument likely inspired the Chief Crazy Horse Monument. Native Indian Chief Henry Standing Bear wanted to publicly prove that Indian nations had their own heroes too. He wrote a letter to sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski inquiring about his interest in creating a North American monument. Ziolkowski had previously worked on the Mount Rushmore Monument in 1924 under master sculptor Gutzon Borglum and had the experience needed to take on this new monumental project.

Location of Crazy Horse Monument

Crazy Horse Monument is being carved out of Thunderhead Mountain, a place considered to be sacred ground by Native Americans. As you travel south along route 385 (on the southwest side of South Dakota), Thunderhead Mountain and Crazy Horse Memorial can be found almost mid-way between Hill City and Custer City. The location of Crazy Horse Monument in relation to Mount Rushmore is only about 8 miles away.

Size of Crazy Horse Monument

Once completed Chief Crazy Horse memorial dimensions are expected to be 641 feet (195 meters) wide and 563 feet (172 meters) tall, which would make the Chief Crazy Horse Monument the world’s largest mountain carving.

The Crazy Horse Monument will also be the world’s largest sculpture of the human head, measuring in at approximately 87 feet tall. In comparison, the heads of the US Presidents carved into Mount Rushmore Monument are approximately 60 feet tall.

Completion of Crazy Horse Monument

Perhaps the most common question asked is, “When will Crazy Horse Monument be finished?” No one is really sure. The blasting continues and the mountain carving is a work in progress, dependent upon donations and private funding only. Although the US Government has offered to help fund the construction of the Chief Crazy Horse Monument on several occasions, artist and sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and his successors have politely declined.

When Ziolkowski passed away in 1982, the non-profit Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation took over the project and to this day continues to honor Ziolkowski’s intentions to keep funding for the project private while striving for higher educational and cultural goals within their communities. Ziolkowski’s wife Ruth oversees all work on the Crazy Horse Monument with the help of the foundation and their 10 children. Essentially, the foundation collects funds to continue with its project through visitor fees, with more than a million guests visiting each year.

The completion and dedication of the face of Chief Crazy horse occurred in 1998, fifty years after the very first blasting of rock. At this point in time there is still no estimated completion date for the rest of the monument.

Chief Crazy Horse Volksmarch

Each year, the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation hosts many educational, social and cultural events.

For the last 30 years they have organized an Annual Spring Volksmarch where the public is invited to hike 6.2 miles through the Black Hills woodlands to see the actual sculpture in progress up close. This is a very popular event with up 15,000 guests in attendance each year. In 2013, an Annual Fall Volksmarch was introduced, giving guests a second opportunity to hike up to the monument. This is the most popular organized hike in the United States.

Crazy Horse Monument Controversy

There is plenty of controversy to go along with the Chief Crazy Horse South Dakota monument. During his life Crazy Horse did not want his picture taken and following his death, his body was placed in an unnamed location. As such, the Chief Crazy Horse monument is sculpted in likeness of him and is dedicated to both the spirit of Crazy Horse and to all Native Americans.

While Lakota (Indian) Chief Henry Standing Bear acknowledged the sincerity of Chief Crazy Horse’s motives, many Native Americans are still against the construction of this memorial. Some of the people who knew the history of Crazy Horse have likened the monument to a “pollution and desecration of the landscape.”

About Caravan Tours

Caravan Tours, which is still family owned and operated, began offering all inclusive tours back in 1952. We now offer affordable, fully guided, all inclusive tours throughout the United States, Canada, and Central America.

A tour of Chief Crazy Horse monument in the Black Hills of South Dakota is included in our fully escorted, all inclusive Mt Rushmore Yellowstone tour.

Visit our Caravan Mount Rushmore tour reviews page to read what others have said about this exceptionally priced US travel tour. For more tour information about Chief Crazy Horse monument or to book a vacation with Caravan Tours, please call us toll free at 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826).