The Top Sculptures You ABSOLUTELY Need to Visit on Your Next Trip to the Black Hills
As the residential sculpture experts of the Black Hills here at the National Presidential Wax Museum in Keystone, SD, we’re here to share the top sculptures/sculpture parks you ABSOLUTELY need to see the next time you’re in the Black Hills!
Mount Rushmore National Memorial – Okay, this one is totally a given and likely the reason a majority of the people reading this are coming to the Black Hills, but no trip to South Dakota would be complete without seeing Mount Rushmore up close and personal. Open year round, Mount Rushmore National Monument is arguably one of the most significant pieces of American history and pride created during our nation’s history. Once you’ve visited Mount Rushmore, make sure to stop at the National Presidential Wax Museum just two miles down the hill in Keystone to learn more about Mount Rushmore! We even have an exhibit paying homage to the unveiling of Mount Rushmore featuring temporary South Dakota resident Calvin Coolidge!
Crazy Horse Memorial – When the Black Hills do sculptures, our mantra is “go big or go home!” Expected to be the world’s second tallest statue when complete, Crazy Horse Memorial pays homage to the Native American ancestors who have come before us, with a stunning 563-foot-tall, 641-foot-long depiction of the Oglala Lakota warrior Crazy Horse. With its stunning cultural center, jam-packed with incredible Native American artwork and artifacts, you could easily spend an entire day taking in the beauty of Crazy Horse and the unending learning opportunities that await you. Fortunately for you, Crazy Horse Memorial is just 30 minutes away from the National Presidential Wax Museum!
Rapid City City of Presidents – Since 2000, visitors of Rapid City have paid appreciation to all of our U.S. Presidents while taking in the amazing sculptures of Presidents that can be found on nearly every corner of downtown Rapid City. Featuring the work of many local artists and sculptors, you could spend an entire afternoon poking around downtown Rapid searching for your favorite Presidents! Under 30 minutes from the National Presidential Wax Museum, the City of Presidents is a must-see stop on your next Black Hills getaway.
Dinosaur Park – What would the Black Hills be if it weren’t for the dinosaurs that roamed the area during pre-historic times? If your trip to the Black Hills involves some time in Rapid City, you’ll adore Dinosaur Park! Located on scenic Skyline Drive, towering above Rapid City, Dinosaur Park features a variety of concrete dinosaur sculptures. Just 30 minutes away from the National Presidential Wax Museum, Dinosaur Park is an unforgettable, and free place to visit on your next Black Hills vacay.
Dahl’s Chainsaw Art – Featuring the work of local wood sculptors Jarret and Jordan Dahl, it’s hard to miss the amazing craftsmanship of Dahl’s Chainsaw Art when you’re driving through Keystone or Hill City. Just footsteps away from the Presidential Wax Museum, you will be blown away by the Dahl brothers’ woodwork at their Keystone location. Don’t forget to take picture with the largest bigfoot wooden sculpture in the world while you’re there! (Yes, you read that right – it’s 22.8 feet tall!) If you like a sculpture enough, you can even take one home with you! If you’re in the Hill City area, make sure to stop at their other location too.
Hill City Sculpture in the Hills – If your Black Hills travels find you in the quaint town of Hill City, make sure to take a walk up and down Main Street. Here, you’ll find a variety of unique sculptures and artwork. Chalked full of art galleries from various artists, Hill City is a hub for art and even hosts a yearly event called “Sculpture in the Hills” to celebrate the great work of local sculptors! Under 20 minutes from the National Presidential Wax Museum, Hill City is the perfect place to visit if you’re looking to spend some time learning more about the Black Hills and the great sculpture work in the area.
Main Street Square Sculpture Project: Passage of Wind & Water - The crowning jewel of downtown Rapid City, The Sculpture Project: Passage of Wind & Water in Main Street Square is downright gorgeous, and a must-see stop on your trip to the Hills! Etched in sprawling granite formations by renowned stone sculptor Masayuki Nagase, art lovers will appreciate the craftsmanship and unique perspective that went into creating downtown Rapid City’s premier destination for visitors and locals alike. Depicting the history of the Black Hills and surrounding area, Main Street Square is the perfect place to kick back and relax while taking in the breath of fresh air that is Rapid City.
Custer Buffaloes – Once you’ve spent time exploring Custer State Park, you’ll definitely want to make a pitstop to Custer before you head back to your hotel or AirBnB. Here, not only will you find some of the best local businesses and food in the Black Hills, but you’ll also find a herd of sculpted buffaloes adorning the town, painted by a wide variety of artists. From depictions of Sylvan Lake to traditional Native American quilting patterns, the buffalo statues are truly cool sight to see. Just 30 minutes away from Custer and 20 minutes from Custer State Park, the National Presidential Wax Museum is in the epicenter of the sculptural heaven that is the Black Hills.
Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center – If you know anything about Black Hills history, you’ll know the area was home to a major gold rush in the 1800s – especially in the Lead-Deadwood area. Now predominantly known for the Sanford Lab Homestake mine, Lead, SD is definitely worth the trip to if you’re in the area and are looking to see some cool sculptures. Here, you’ll be able to learn all about the area’s rich history in mining while enjoying mining artifacts that are now on display as sculptures of sorts. Under an hour away from the National Presidential Wax Museum in Keystone, the Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center rocks! (pun intended)
Bonus: While this sculpture is not in the Black Hills, anybody traveling to the Black Hills via I-90 eastbound or westbound needs to stop in Chamberlain, SD to take in the spectacle that is the Dignity: Of Earth & Sky statue. Towering 50 feet in the air, overlooking the winding Missouri River, Dignity pays homage to Native American culture in a brilliant way. Depicting a Native American woman proudly holding a massive traditional Native American star quilt, Dignity may be one of the most beautiful sculptures you will ever see.