A special memorial ground in Montana, preserving the site of a highly significant part of America's history and showcasing the bravery of hundreds of men, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is a premium destination for all history lovers. The landscape and rolling hills are quiet and peaceful now, but the site commemorates the military disaster of 1876 also known as Custer's Last Stand.
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument protects the site of one of the last efforts of Native Indians to preserve their traditional way of life. The battle took place on June 25, 1876 where Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and members of the Seventh Cavalry fought the largest alliance of Plains Indians in recorded history, with the monument commemorating those who died on that day. The monument's current name was given to it in 1991 having previously been known as the Custer Battlefield National Monument.
Visitors to the historic place have a host of recreational activities to keep them busy during their visit. The visitor center and museum have a few historical artifacts from the battle and rangers are on hand all year round to offer visitors interpretative presentations of the events that took place there with a short graphic documentary also detailing events of the battle. A 4.5-mile tour road also connects the site to a separate battlefield, with different trails helping visitors explore the region, either personally or by ranger-guided tours. The monument is best visited mid-year between May and August for the ideal experience.
Getting to Little Bighorn is straightforward once you are in Montana. The monument is situated within the Crow Indian Reservation in southeastern Montana. U.S Hwy 212 connects the monument with Yellowstone National Park and the Black Hills. Sign posts guide you from Hwy 212 until you get to the park gates. The roads throughout the monument are paved.
About 45 miles southwest of the monument, you'll find Afterbay Campground which is part of the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. The campground is located near the town of Fort Smith. There are 29 pet friendly campsites on one side of the Bighorn River and an additional 12 sites located on the other.
Sites have no water or electric hookups but clean water pumps are available at the campground. Other amenities include restrooms, drinking water, and a boat launch which are all within walking distance of the campsites. The campground is open all year and sites are available by reservation. Visitors cannot stay more than 14 days at a time.
During your visit to the monument, visitors will learn that of the over 200 soldiers who died that day. Custer himself was separated from the rest of the troops and became trapped on an isolated hill with around 50 men. An overwhelming number of Cheyenne and Lakota warriors surrounded them and killed them. This hill, where Custer and his men were killed, is known as "Last Stand Hill."
In 1881, a stone memorial with the names of the fallen inscribed on it was raised on the site. At the same time, the bodies of the soldiers were moved to the memorial, but markers of where the men fell were placed and can still be seen today.
Little Bighorn is more than just a monument, it has an ecosystem of wildlife that have lived in the region pre-dating the battle. This ecosystem is comprised of various species of birds, mammals, and reptiles that have thrived in the region for centuries.
The area is home to a wide variety of terrestrial mammals. White-tailed deer can be spotted in the open fields as well as mule deer. Smaller mammals like foxes, coyotes, and raccoons are also often encountered by visitors. There are also over 150 species of birds and reptiles residing in the region.
There are tons of activities to keep visitors entertained at the visitor center. There are artifacts and interpretative exhibits depicting the events of the 1876 Battle of Little Bighorn. The museum has exhibits telling the story of the battle and Custer's life and achievements. There are also exhibits on the lives of the Plains Indians, and a walking tour with interpretive markers.
In the amphitheater of the visitor center, you can watch a live depiction of the battle. Re-enactors don period costumes to bring history to life. It's an immersive experience that will give you a new perspective on a legendary chapter of American history.
Visiting the Custer National Cemetery at Little Bighorn Battlefield is an opportunity to step back in time. As you wander through the graves, you'll be reminded of the terrible cost of war and the tragic nature of human conflict. It's an atmospheric place to visit, where the past seems close at hand.
The audio tour and park brochure contain extra information on the history of the cemetery and its significance.
Visitors to the monument can see a spectacular display of pictures detailing the history of the region and its significance in American history. Tourists can see photos of Elizabeth Bacon Custer and others associated with those involved in the battle. Historic photographs of Little Bighorn Battlefield memorials and Custer National Cemetery from different time periods in the last century are also displayed.
Photographs of the Cavalry and its history are on display as well as photos from previous events and celebrations that have taken place at the monument. You can see photographs and artifacts associated with George Armstrong Custer and some pictures of the region's wildlife.
The 4.5 mile tour road gives visitors an entirely different view and experience of the events of the battle. The cell phone audio tour allows you experience the narrative story of the Battle of Little Bighorn as you drive.
The tour road connects two locations, the Custer Battlefield and the Reno-Benteen Battlefield. The audio tour gives you a detailed explanation of the significance of every site or area as you drive by, giving you your own unique view of the battle.