This post is a part of my Black Hills Road Trip Series 

The Mission of Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota is to protect and preserve the culture, tradition and living heritage of the North American Indians.

The looming and luminous Crazy Horse Memorial is both the companion and antithesis of nearby Mount Rushmore. Both are impressive monuments blasted into stone and meant to stand for a thousand years, yet Crazy Horse celebrates the pride and culture of America’s native peoples, while Mount Rushmore memorializes the prosperity of a colonized nation.

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Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

A mantra seen often around the monument.

Mount Rushmore was built with government money and continues to be federally funded, while Crazy Horse operates on the generosity of benefactors and tourist entrance fees.

Some might balk at the “steep” pricing structure, but they should quickly be reminded of sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski’s promise to “never get into bed with the Federal Government”

Current Crazy Horse Memorial Pricing Structure 

$30.00 per car – more than 2 people

$24.00 – 2 people in car

$12.00 – 1 person in car

$7.00 – per person on a motorcycle

$7.00– per person on a bicycle

Free – Children 6 and Under + Active Military + Native Americans

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Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

Visiting Crazy Horse from Mount Rushmore

It’s a quick 30 minute drive from Mount Rushmore to Crazy Horse, so most tourists to the Black Hills area choose to see both monuments in one day.

The two also complement each other well in terms of history and cultural experience, as the more time you spend in the Black Hills, the more it seems like a waste to come all this way and not learn about its original inhabitants.

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Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

Posing as Crazy Horse. The white sculpture is what the finished project will look like. The quote on the bottom reads “My lands are where my dead lie buried” – Crazy Horse.

Things To Do at Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

How long should you spend at Crazy Horse? Because of the price tag and all the things to do, you should plan to spend about two to three hours at Crazy Horse.

You should start by paying the extra fee for the tour down into the construction zone. It’s only $4.00, so a great value to get up close and personal with the monument and get the inside scoop on the carving process and how things are progressing.

My sister and I visited at the beginning of spring, so we were the only two people on the tour. During the summer, it’s often packed, but that won’t make it less valuable.

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Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

Inside one of the museums at Crazy Horse, you have the opportunity to take a home a rock that has been blasted off the mountain for a small donation.

My sister and I traveled “carry-on only” to the Black Hills, but she still took one and managed to get it home. Just goes to show how strict the TSA requirements are, when you can somehow board a plane with a giant rock in your bag.

I am glad she took one though, as we now have a part of  Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota history with us at home.

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Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

The Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota is also home to the Indian Museum of North America®, the Native American Education and Cultural Center®, as well as the original home and studio of the sculptor, Korczak, and his family. The breadth of knowledge and history on display here is worth the admission fee alone.

You can learn about the culture and lifestyle of many different Native American tribes through their clothing, art, religious relics, dish ware, weapons, and construction materials. It’s a deep look at the “everyday” histories that are often glossed over during formal education.

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Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

What the Crazy Horse campus will look like once completed.

Be sure to set aside some time to simply stop and admire the mountain.

To use your imagination and think about how majestic it will look once Crazy Horse is finally finished being carved. How special and important the area will be to all Americans as we make an effort to remember all parts of our history.

Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

The History of Crazy Horse + Why It’s Important To Visit

Crazy Horse was a war leader for the Oglala Lakota tribe. He attempted to fight off the U.S. Federal government as the young nation spread rapidly westward, bulldozing the culture and nearly annihilating the native peoples that got in the way. He fought to protect the legacy of his people, the Lakota.

Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

He is most famous for two battles: the Fetterman Fight (21 December 1866) and the Battle of the Little Bighorn (25–26 June 1876). He eventually surrendered to U.S. troops under General Crook in May 1877, but was fatally wounded by a military guard while allegedly resisting imprisonment (what a bogus charge though?) at Camp Robinson which is in present-day Nebraska.

In 1931, while Mount Rushmore construction was under way, Henry Standing Bear, an Oglala Lakota chief, commissioned  Polish-American sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to build the Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota. This is because Standing Bear’s brother had written to Gutzon Borglum, the lead sculptor of Mount Rushmore, to request Crazy Horse be added, but he never heard back.

Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

Standing Bear is quoted as exclaiming, “My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too.”

Once finished, the Crazy Horse campus will be even more of a hub for Native American cultural education and enrichment, including a satellite campus of the University of South Dakota.

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A Mount Rushmore vacation is an American rite of passage and great introduction to the country for foreign tourists.

You get a good dose of American history as the “beautiful for spacious skies” you hear so much about. My Black Hills road trip was one of the best adventures I’ve had, so I put this itinerary together to help others make the most of the area.

best time to visit Mount Rushmore best time to visit mt rushmore

Quick Facts about Planning a Mount Rushmore Vacation

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This itinerary is based out of Rapid City, South Dakota because it’s centrally located to all the attractions in the Black Hills region. It’s also home of Rapid City Regional Airport, which is where most travelers will start their Mount Rushmore vacation.

things to do in Rapid city South Dakota Berlin Wall Memorial Dinosaur Park Presidents

The activities on each day are grouped by geographic proximity. So if you’d like to do day 3’s activities on day 4, it would work — but you shouldn’t mix activities from different days because they would be too far apart.

You should never spend more than 2ish hours in the car with this itinerary.

  • Where To Stay in Rapid City

My sister and I stayed at the historic Hotel Alex Johnson in Downtown Rapid City. It’s where Hitchcock stayed when he was in the area for North by Northwest filming AND it’s allegedly haunted. If you visit the Black Hills during the off season, you are likely to get a great deal on this beautiful hotel.

If not, or you prefer to rough it, there are plenty of reputable chain hotels in the area, like Best Western, La Quinta, etc.

MOUNT RUSHMORE VACATION BLACK HILLS ROAD TRIP hotel alex johnson

  • Places To Eat in Rapid City

Black Hills Bagels (closes 3pm daily)

913 Mt. Rushmore Road

Rapid City, SD 57701

Wobbly Bobby (opens 3pm daily)

510 Main Street 

Rapid City, SD 57701

  • Where To Rent a Car in Rapid City 

If you fly in, you’ll definitly need to rent a car to properly experience the Black Hills. It’s best to pick up your rental car from Rapid City Regional Airport, so you can spend as much time exploring as possible and then drop it off right before you fly back out.

If your flight arrives late at night, consider returning to the airport via your hotel’s shuttle in the morning to save on rental fees, as odd pickup hours tend to drive up the rental price.

Day 1: Arrive in Rapid City and Get Settled

things to do in Rapid city South Dakota Presidents Sculptures

Whether you’re on a Mount Rushmore road trip or flying into Rapid City, odds are you will arrive in town in the late afternoon or evening simply due to the time is takes to make the trek. I recommend spending your first evening settling into your hotel, gearing up for the fun you’ll be having, and exploring downtown Rapid City.

You could even watch a movie filmed in the area!

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Day 2: Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse

You should get an early start to Mount Rushmore, stopping at Black Hills Bagels on the way for a spot of breakfast.

The drive from Rapid City to Mount Rushmore takes about 30 minutes. Plan to arrive no later than 10:00AM.

best time to visit Mount Rushmore best time to visit mt rushmore

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

13000 South Dakota 244

Keystone, SD 57751

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Plan to eat lunch at the Carver’s Cafe at Mount Rushmore, leaving around 1:00PM. Next up is Crazy Horse! The drive takes about 30 minutes, putting your arrival at about 1:30PM

Things To Do Near Mount Rushmore Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse Memorial

12151 Avenue of the Chiefs

Crazy Horse, SD 57730

After your time at Crazy Horse, you can head on back to Rapid City for a nice dinner and some R&R before your next full day or return to Mount Rushmore for the nightly lighting ceremony.

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Day 3: Badlands National Park and Minuteman Missile Silos

Things to do in the badlands how to get to the badlands

Another early start! Plan to leave your hotel again between 8:00AM and 8:30AM, as it’s a solid one hour drive to Badlands National Park from Rapid City. 

Ben Reifel Vistors Center 

25216 Ben Reifel Road

Interior, SD 57750

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Minuteman Missile Site

You don’t want to miss out on the Minuteman Missile tour! While you can look at the Delta-09 silo without a reservation, if you want to go down into the Delta-01 launch facility, you’ll need a reservation.

Tours run Thursday through Monday at 1:15PM and 2:00PM. The tour typically lasts about 30 minutes and because of limited space, accommodates six people and one Park Ranger. You should reserve your spot ASAP, up to three months in advance, here.

Minuteman Missile Site South Dakota

Unfortunately, no same day reservations are allowed. You don’t want to miss out, so book now!

If “day 3” of your Mount Rushmore Vacation happens to be a Tuesday or Wednesday when no tours are offered, just swap out today’s activities with a different day.

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As you can see, Badlands National Park and the Minuteman Missile Silos form a nice “loop” with the highway. Depending on your time of arrival and the pace at which your progress through the Badlands, you might have to do a little back tracking to see everything.

Things To Do Near Mount Rushmore Wall Drug

Be sure to stop at Wall Drug General Store on the way back to Rapid City for some good food and a fun souvenir.

Day 4: Devils Tower National Monument and the Geographic Center of the Nation

Belle Fourche South Dakota: The Geographic Center of the United States

It’s about an 80 minute drive from Rapid City to Belle Fourche, South Dakota, home of the geographic center of the United Sates. It used to be in Kansas, but then Alaska and Hawaii joined the Union and things shifted.

Geographic Center of the Nation Monument

415 5th Avene

Belle Fourche, SD 57717

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You can spend anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes in Belle Fourche, depending on whether the museum at the monument is open. Then head to Devils Tower.

Devils Tower is a geological wonder heavily featured in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and regional Native American tradition, so it’s a can’t miss!

Devils Tower National Monument

149 State Highway 110

Devils Tower, WY 82714

how to get to devils tower national monument Wyoming

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Devils Tower is also conveniently close to the Montanan border, so if you’d like to check Big Sky Country off the list on your Mount Rushmore Vacation, it’s easy to take a route back to Rapid City that cuts through the corner of Montana.

MOUNT RUSHMORE VACATION BLACK HILLS ROAD TRIP hotel

just call me Hannah cause I’m in Montana

Day 5: Jewel Cave National Monument and Reptile Gardens

The last day of your Mount Rushmore vacation should go out with a bang! The bang of bacon-looking rocks and lots of reptiles.

Things To Do Near Mount Rushmore Jewel Cave

Start the day by making the 70 minute drive to Jewel Cave National Monument, southwest of Rapid City. Set your GPS to Custer, South Dakota and from there, follow Highway 16 West. There are signs for the monument’s entrance along the road.

If needed, here are the exact coordinates:

594270, 4842528 (UTM NAD 83)

Latitude / Longitude:

43 43′ 46.6153″ N

103 49′ 46.6522″ W

You’ll want to head that way quite early as its a popular destination, you can’t reserve tickets ahead of time, and tours tend to fill up fast. Try to arrive at least 30 minutes ahead of the day’s first tour if you want to minimize the time you have wait around for your slot.

You don’t want to miss the bacon rocks!

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On the way back into town, stop into Reptile Gardens! It’s got an impressive menagerie of snakes, frogs, turtles, and birds. There’s even a Bond Girl crocodile. It’s the perfect place for a little family bonding over your shared love (or hatred) of snakes!

Reptile Gardens South Dakota Things to do in Rapid City

Reptile Gardens South Dakota

8955 US-16

Rapid City, SD 57702

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That’s a wrap on your Mount Rushmore vacation! Time to hit the road home or head to the airport for your flight home.

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Are you heading out on a quick Boston trip? This 48 hours in Boston itinerary walks you through everything you need to know about hitting the highlights of Beantown, including where to eat and the best things to do in Boston.

I recently spent a whirlwind 48 hours in my favorite city and can’t wait to share my tips!

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getting ready for the airport

I went to college 1,809 miles away from home at a small liberal arts school nestled in the Pioneer Valley called Mount Holyoke. So, given the distance, after my May 2015 graduation, I wasn’t sure when I would be able to return.

That is until I got a frantic text from my friend Cassidy in late December.

Apparently, every other member of my friend group was meeting up in Boston to surprise our friend Brittney as a late Christmas gift and I was the only one not coming. Was there any way I could be there?

Yeah sure, let me just buy a ticket to Boston less than two weeks before departure for a trip lasting roughly 48 hours.

Except that’s exactly what I did.

And while I spent most of my time lying on apartment floors giggling with my girlfriends, if you want to do a quick Boston trip and still see all the sights, it’s completely possible.

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Quick Boston Trip Day 1 

Arrive in Boston. Logan airport is only about a ten minute Uber from downtown, so if you are staying centrally, it’s easy to drop off your luggage and start the Freedom Trail right away.

I’d been to Boston so many times that I skipped the historical bit this go around and chose a tasty meal at Quincy Market instead, but even if you’re not into the “birth of American freedom,” it’s hard not to get pumped up about it in Boston.

Seriously. Every time I’m there I want to punch a redcoat in the throat or something.

Boston Freedom Trail

Baby She’s a Trip at the Old North Church (1 if by land…2 if by sea) circa 2010.

Quick Boston Trip

Reenacting the Boston Massacre in 2010 (look how little I was!)

After you’ve had your fill of history, make sure to explore Boston’s harbor and have a lobstah or two, or maybe even a nice bowl of clam chowda.

Quick Boston Trip Day 2

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is a must see even if you don’t like art. Be sure to check out these art history snapchats, as they might change your mind.

MFA Boston Snow

Snow day at the MFA

MFA Boston

#Vanity

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On this quick Boston trip, I may or may not have used my three hours there in a futile attempt to avoid the snowstorm going on outside (two years in the south really decreased my tolerance for the stuff).

The museum is also nestled near the famous South End, so if you like old brick buildings and cute Instagrams, then this is the area for you.

Friends being classy AF and taking in Renaissance art

After exploring the museum, feel free to pop over to Cambridge to pahk ya cahr in Harvahd Yahd, or Fenway if you want to watch the Red Sox lose (again).

Quick Boston Trip Day 3 (Bonus Day!)

If you’d like to extend your 48 hours in Boston, you might take some time to venture out into Lexington and Concord (where the shot heard round the world was fired), Salem (to try some witches), or even Plymouth (to see the hella underwhelming Plymouth Rock).

Plymouth Rock is Small

#Selfie with Plymouth Rock in late 2014…which as you can see is small and disappointing.

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General Advice for Flying Standby with United 

Of course, I was having so much fun with my college girlfriends that I didn’t want to come home, so when United said my flight was overbooked, I was nearly delirious with joy. When the gate agent announced that he was offering $600 travel vouchers, I don’t think I had ever moved so fast.

Unfortunately, I learned a harsh lesson about volunteering to be bumped off your flight. It was the first time I did it, so I assumed that since I was first in line to volunteer, they would call me over when they needed me, but that wasn’t the case.

As I was minding my own business in the gate area, texting my friends to make sure they didn’t wander too far so we could all enjoy my hotel room courtesy of United Airlines, the girl who had been behind me acted like a total vulture and hovered around the desk.

Mon petite croissant – a lovely friend I wish I had more time with.

Because she was right in the agent’s eye line, she got the upgrade when he realized the flight was full. I walked over to hear her get a $600 travel voucher, $10 dinner voucher, free night at the Embassy Suites Boston, and a 1st class ticket in the morning.

That was supposed to be mine!

I was furious, but I learned my lesson: all’s fair when there’s a $600 travel voucher on the line.

So if you volunteer to be bumped off your flight, stand by the desk until your voucher is in your hand.

I did shed some tears on the flight home, but I’m unsure if they were exhaustion from a whirlwind weekend, disappointment that I was ROBBED of my $600 voucher, or simply because I missed my friends.

But at least I’m headed back to Boston in May!

Wagamama in Boston

P.S. Did y’all know they have WAGAMAMA in Boston? I about flipped my lid. The UK chain is one of the best places to eat in Boston.

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