Standing Face to Face With Crazy Horse

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What’s 641 feet long, stands 563 feet high, and resides in the side of a mountain?

Well, technically nothing yet. However, once completed, the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota will lay claim to the title of the largest sculpture in the world and the answer to that question.

The project began in 1948 when sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski was invited to carve a mountain to honor the heritage, tradition, and culture of North American Indians. Its namesake, Crazy Horse, was a war leader of the Oglala Lakota Tribe and a prominent leader in the Sioux resistance to white encroachment on the Black Hills. His bravery and skill are greatly admired, and he is revered by the Sioux as one of their greatest leaders.

View from the Observation Deck

View from the Observation Deck

Along with nearby Mount Rushmore, seeing the Crazy Horse Memorial in person has always been on my bucket list. While the ongoing progress of this massive undertaking in the Black Hills — with frequent drilling and mountain blasts — is reason enough to make a visit to the Memorial, I wished for a more exciting experience than simply viewing the sculpture from the observation deck. That’s when I discovered the Volksmarch!

The Crazy Horse Volksmarch is an organized hike that allows visitors to make the 6.2-mile roundtrip journey to stand on the arm of the mountain carving and experience a one-of-a-kind closeup view of the nine-story Native American face. An event that used to only occur once a year in June, the hike is now open to the public the first full weekend of June and the last full weekend of September with the addition of the Fall Volksmarch in 2013.

I had the pleasure of taking part in the very first Fall Volksmarch and it was the perfect way to experience the Crazy Horse Memorial for the first time. Enjoy photos from my journey to meet Crazy Horse face-to-face!

Crazy Horse Volksmarch Start Line

Crazy Horse Volksmarch Hike

The hike is relatively easy, but there are a few steep hills and a couple patches of rocky terrain. It’s best to pace yourself, which I made the mistake of not doing in my race to get to the top for the best light for photographs.

Hike to Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse Volksmarch Hike

Almost to the top…

Crazy Horse Memorial Autumn Volksmarch

Crazy Horse Volksmarch

Crazy Horse Memorial Closeup View

Crazy Horse Volksmarch Path

Crazy Horse Memorial Autumn Volksmarch

The payoff, Crazy Horse himself! The face was completed on June 3, 1998 and stands an incredible 87 feet high. In comparison, the heads of the Presidents on Mount Rushmore are each 60 feet high.

Crazy Horse Memorial Face Closeup

Crazy Horse Memorial Face Profile

Crazy Horse Memorial Photos

After making the hike to the top, how could you not get your photo taken with Crazy Horse? I decided to join in the fun!

Crazy Horse Selfie

View from the Arm of Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse Memorial View

Crazy Horse Through the Arm

Leaving the Crazy Horse Volksmarch

Crazy Horse Memorial
12151 Avenue of the Chiefs
Crazy Horse, SD
Crazy Horse Volksmarch Details
Admission: $3 or three cans of food donated to KOTA Care & Share Food Drive
Parking: Free
Start time: 8am-1pm
Time: Hike averages 2-4 hours
Hikers must register by 1pm and be off the trail by 4pm
Gates open at 6am

Where to Stay in Rapid City, South Dakota

Comfort Suites – Ranked #1 of all Rapid City area hotels! And I really can’t dispute that. The rates were a little higher than I’m used to paying, but that is common for this area. For the condition of the rooms and location to downtown and attractions like Mount Rushmore & Custer State Park, I would gladly spend the money again!

Click here for the most current Rapid City hotel deals.

If you’ve always wanted to visit the Crazy Horse Memorial, I highly suggest planning your trip around one of the Volksmarch events!


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A look at the 6.2 mile hike to the top of the Crazy Horse Memorial in Rapid City, South Dakota. Click to see more or pin for later!