April - May: 8:00am - 6:00pm
June - August: 8:00am - 9:00pm
September - October: 8:00am - 6:00pm
November - March: 8:00am - 4:30pm
Price: $10 entrance private vehicles; $5 on foot, bicycle, or motorcycle
On June 25 and 26, 1876, U.S. General George Armstrong Custer and his Seventh Cavalry Regiment engaged a superior fighting force of Lakota and Northern Cheyenne Indians under the leadership of Crazy Horse and Gall, and the guidance, if not the physical presence, of Sioux leader Sitting Bull. In the coulee-wrinkled plains above the Little Bighorn River near what is now the Crow Agency reservation in southeastern Montana, Custer and 267 of his men fell. Estimates of Indian casualties range from 30 to 300.
The battle, often summarized in the phrase "Custer's Last Stand," has inspired countless variations in literature and film, and continuing controversies about military tactics, tribal motives, and the conflict's role in the settling of the American West.
The battle of Little Bighorn was actually a series of skirmishes over the course of several days, and the site's 4.5-mile, interpretive-signed driving tour through the stark, windswept landscape includes both the Custer Battlefield and the preceding Reno-Benteen Battlefield. A bus tour operates from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. A visitor center features a well-stocked gift shop, a museum offering exhibits on the battle, Custer, contemporary weapons, archaeology, Plains Indian life, and a 17-minute documentary film.
Next door to the visitor center is Custer National Cemetery, with interments from abandoned frontier military posts, the world wars, and conflicts in Korea and Vietnam. Also adjacent to the visitor center is the site's original obelisk monument to Custer and his troops, who died on a high hill overlooking the river. The area is accessible via walking trails; watch out for rattlesnakes.
It was only in 1991 that the site was renamed, from Custer Battlefield National Monument to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, to accurately reflect the battle's full range of participants, and to acknowledge the Lakota tribes' last defense of its traditional way of life. Since then, an Indian memorial and several red granite markers memorializing fallen Lakota have been added to the array of memorials at the site.
More information on this complex landmark in American history is available at the Friends of the Little Bighorn Battlefield's website.