The face of the Crazy Horse Memorial.

Crazy Horse Memorial

Custer City

The world's largest monument is this 563ft-tall work-in-progress (with a lot of work to go). When finished it will depict the Sioux leader astride his horse, pointing to the horizon saying, 'My lands are where my dead lie buried.' No one is predicting when the sculpture will be complete (the face was dedicated in 1998). Although you can see the mountain in the distance, you need to pay another $4 for a van ride to get close.

Never photographed or persuaded to sign a meaningless treaty, Crazy Horse was chosen for a monument that Lakota Sioux elders hoped would balance the presidential focus of Mt Rushmore. In 1948 a Boston-born sculptor, the indefatigable Korczak Ziolkowski, started blasting granite. His family have continued the work since his death in 1982. (It should be noted that many Native Americans oppose the monument as a desecration of sacred land.)

The visitor center complex includes a small Native American museum, gift shops, cafes of limited merit, and a fragment of Ziolkowski's studio. A laser-light show plays off the monument on summer evenings.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Custer City attractions

1. Mount Rushmore National Memorial

9.46 MILES

Visitors can't help but be impressed by the sheer scale and massive physical effort of the team behind Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota…

2. Jewel Cave National Monument

11.98 MILES

If you visit only one Black Hills cave, this would be a good choice. It's 13 miles west of Custer and is so named because calcite crystals line much of…

3. Custer State Park

13.14 MILES

Mt Rushmore may lure travelers to the Black Hills, but it's nearby Custer State Park that often creates the most lasting memories. Not only does it boast…

4. Bear Country USA

19.56 MILES

Oodles of bears big and small in this drive-through park live off the land and hope you'll do something forbidden like offering them a Big Mac, or your…

5. Wind Cave National Park

20.28 MILES

This park, protecting 44 sq miles of grassland and forest, sits just south of Custer State Park. The central draw is, of course, the cave, which contains…

6. Reptile Gardens

21.22 MILES

Reptiles, snakes, giant tortoises and many more critters inspire countless 'wows.'

7. Statues of Presidents

26.61 MILES

From a shifty-eyed Nixon in repose to a triumphant Harry Truman, lifelike statues dot corners throughout the center of Rapid City. Collect all 42. Maps…

8. Museum of Geology

27.15 MILES

All that drama underground has produced some spectacular rocks. See these plus dinosaur bones and some stellar fossils here at the South Dakota School of…