Well first, I did not actually go to the Crazy Horse Memorial.
But, I did get a glimpse of the Crazy Horse Memorial from the car!
The Crazy Horse Memorial is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
It started off as a day trip from Custer State Park to the Mount Rushmore area that included seeing Mount Rushmore in the rain and some time in Black Hills National Forest, including Breezy Point and Horsethief Lake (both which are just outside Mount Rushmore National Memorial).
On the way back to the Custer State Park camping cabin where I was staying, there were so many signs for the Crazy Horse Memorial.
So similar to Wall Drug while driving along I-90 west, those signs got me! (The Crazy Horse signs were just regular road signs though, compared to the Wall Drug billboard signs!)
I wasn’t planning on going to Crazy Horse but since I’m seeing so many signs for it and I’m in the neighborhood, sure why not!
So then it was off to see Crazy Horse.
👆 How to get to Crazy Horse Mountain, Sylvan Lake (one of the many Custer State Park lakes), and Needles Highway (where you can drive through the Needles Eye Tunnel).
👆 How to get to Jewel Cave National Monument, Crazy Horse Mountain, and Sheridan Lake.
👆 How to get to Sylvan Lake, Needles Highway, Crazy Horse, and Custer SD.
👆 2.5 miles to go to get to Crazy Horse Mountain.
👆 1 mile to go to get to Crazy Horse.
👆 Half a mile to go to get to Crazy Horse.
👆 Arriving at the Crazy Horse Mountain entrance!
But as it turns out, Crazy Horse is more than just about seeing the “world’s largest mountain carving in progress” that is the huge face of the Lakota man named Crazy Horse carved into a rock.
The Crazy Horse Memorial is also about exploring the Indian Museum of North America, and apparently there’s quite a bit of Native American culture to explore here.
More below about my short drive to see Crazy Horse from the car!
Here are some ideas for a classic South Dakota road trip going from east to west!
After you go to Badlands National Park, you can head west to Wall Drug and then onwards to Mount Rushmore! You've made it to the Black Hills, where you'll find Custer State Park for a perfect place to stay. You can choose from the Custer State Park campgrounds or Custer State Park camping cabins for a budget-friendly stay, or you can go for more luxury at one of the Custer State Park lodges! (You can even stay at a past president's Summer White House!) While you're in the area, you can also go to Wind Cave National Park and/or Jewel Cave National Monument and/or the Mammoth Site! Drive the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway on your way west out of the Black Hills and South Dakota as you continue your epic road trip to Devils Tower National Monument and Wyoming! Then, onwards to the best places to visit in Wyoming with your grand finale of Wyoming being one day in Yellowstone National Park!
Read the details: Best places to visit in South Dakota
Save the South Dakota video playlist to watch on youtube later!
The drive to see Crazy Horse from the road
Note that when I went, I did not know that I was going to be able to see Crazy Horse from the road!
I went to the Crazy Horse entrance in August 2021. Things can change!
So when you turn down the road to the entrance, that is when you will get your first glimpse of driving directly towards the Crazy Horse rock carving.
And then you will arrive at the Crazy Horse Memorial entry station.
It was past 7:30pm when I arrived at the Crazy Horse Memorial entry station. I was ready to pay the entry fee.
Then the Crazy Horse entry station attendant briefly explained about things to do at the Crazy Horse Memorial and then mentioned that things would be closing soon. (Some things might have already been closed, I don’t remember the exact details.)
She indicated that there really wasn’t much time left to do much and then asked if we still wanted to go.
And well, with a $15 per person Crazy Horse Memorial entry fee, it would be better to have the time to explore all that it has to offer in order to make it worth it to go to Crazy Horse.
If you have more than 2 people, the cost of Crazy Horse is $35 per car. See current fees.
Crazy Horse Memorial is not a national park site so you won’t be able to use your annual national park pass here.
👆 The cost of Crazy Horse Memorial in summer 2021 was $35 per car.
And so I was thinking that I should come back later when I also have adequate time to fully explore the Indian Museum of North America and the rest of the Crazy Horse Memorial. So I decided that it would be better to come back later when I have more time to explore all that the Crazy Horse Memorial has to offer. (But well, I never did make it back.)
So for you, just know about the hours before you go! See current hours.
BUT… I did still get a small glimpse of Crazy Horse Memorial!
You can see the Crazy Horse Memorial from the road!
It’s clearly not as magnificent as getting up close and personal to the Crazy Horse Memorial, but as you are entering the Crazy Horse Memorial, you do start to see Crazy Horse off in the distance.
I was not expecting this, so it was kind of a WOW moment!
But the thing is that in order to reach this spot, you kind of need to drive as if you are intending to actually go to the Crazy Horse Memorial… as in you need to get beyond the pay station.
After I decided not to go to the Crazy Horse Memorial, the entry station attendant said to drive ahead to turn around.
And that’s when I really started to see Crazy Horse up ahead.
It’s like you’re driving straight towards Crazy Horse!
👆 As far as you’ll drive towards Crazy Horse for the first turnaround spot.
Now technically you can do as I did… which is show up and decide not to go… and then you will need to keep driving in order to turn around. It’s at that point that you’ll start to see Crazy Horse off in the distance.
But I mean, if you are a really honest person, this may seem a little awkward to show up at the pay station to just say, “I don’t want to go to the Crazy Horse Memorial, I just want to turn around up there.”
And so, the best way to see Crazy Horse is by paying the entrance fee.
The other spot where you can see Crazy Horse from the road for free
I guess there is another spot where you can see Crazy Horse. This is a spot to see Crazy Horse along the main road.
I wasn’t looking that hard so I missed it.
This tripadvisor post seems to say that you can see Crazy Horse along the main road before you even turn onto the final road to the Crazy Horse Memorial.
So you can look out for that, apparently the “east side of the road near the entrance“!
But I would imagine this would be an even more distant view. But this is the hassle-free way to see Crazy Horse from the road for free.
Still, if you want to see Crazy Horse without having to be all awkward, this might be the way!
On google maps, it seems as though it’s called Crazy Horse Overnight Parking, or somewhere around there! (map)
And then driving back to Custer State Park it was!
And that’s a bit about seeing Crazy Horse!
If you are interested in the Crazy Horse Memorial, you may also be interested in these road trip activities:
- Things to do for the best views of Mount Rushmore
- Things to do in the Black Hills for views
- Quick things to do in Badlands National Park
- Sylvan Lake
- Things to do in Wind Cave National Park
- Quick things to do in Devils Tower National Monument
- Things to do in Custer State Park for views
- Things to do in Jewel Cave National Monument
- Needles Eye Tunnel and the Needles of the Black Hills
- What is up with the Wall Drug Store?
- Things to do in Black Hills National Forest
- Best hikes in Custer State Park
- The Mammoth Site
HAPPY SEEING CRAZY HORSE FROM THE ROAD!