LITTLE BIGHORN BATTLEFIELD TOURS
LEARN BOTH SIDES OF THE STORY : TRIBAL & MILITARY
Custer was on the offensive until the very last. When he reached the hill that would forever carry his name he traded victory for immortality, but his end was not like in the movies. Lakota and Cheyenne did not ride round and round him in decreasing circles; some approached on foot, some fired from long distance, until finally Chief Comes in Sight led a charge that would ultimately end it for that day.
It is said that history is written by the victors, but the Battle of the Little Bighorn has proven to be the exception to the rule, and some say more ink has been spilled on the epic encounter than blood was on the battlefield! But of the thousands of books and articles, scarcely a handful have been published by Lakota and Cheyenne historians – the descendants who keep the stories of the victors.
Did you know that right after the battle, warriors made a pact between themselves never to speak of the battle and who’s war deeds were whose…such was the trepidation of retaliation from the US government upon their families that these stories were not told until relatively recently. So what does that pact mean for you?
It means that the stories passed to you from decades of telling are one-sided and sometimes flat out wrong. After all, if you don’t know both sides, how can you know the truth?
Our Little Bighorn Battlefield guides are the very best, and we don't make that claim lightly. They are knowledgeable, friendly and some have even said going to the battlefield with one of our guides is like having a battle participant at your side!
Our guides will dispel often repeated myths (eg. 'there were 10,000 warriors against Custer and his men.') Custer was only one of many men who died at the Little Bighorn, fighting in the name and cause of their respective nations: All five companies with Custer were annihilated, and with associated 7th Cavalry casualties, the total fallen rose to 263. But do a google search about how many men were killed at the Little Bighorn, and you will see for yourself the Eurocentric sway of information, because for the large part, only military losses are noted. The Cheyenne lost 14 men on the field, including the great Lame White Man, and the Lakota lost closer to double that number. Where are their names?
But why did Custer really lose?
Come with us for to learn how it was that on June 25, 1876, the 7th Cavalry were out-thought and out-fought.
ABOUT YOUR TOUR . . .
MEETING PLACE AND TME:
Your guide will meet you at Putt's Trading Post (Hwy 212, opposite the entrance to the NPS site at 9.30am or 1pm, accordingto your booking.
All guides go step-on in your vehicle with you.
Depending on the tour you have booked, you may start at the Reno-Benteen fight area first, or cover some off-site areas that are important to the story; for example, the Indian camp area & Lone Tipi. You will also explore the 4 1/2 mile route through the NPS site with your guide; the difference between a Little Bighorn Tours experience to self-guiding visitors being that you will learn about what happened at Little Bighorn and what were the consequences from both perspectives - Indian and military. Because if you don’t understand both sides you can’t really know what actually happened on June 25th, 1876.
If you booked an all-day tour, lunch is back at Putt's Trading Post and Cafe (on your own).
Half day tours are approx 3 hours long and full days are 5-6 hours. Your tour is usually over when all your questions have been answered, and although you may not think you will have many now, this story is told in such a compelling way and with such passion, that you may be surprised.
We can run Little Bighorn Tours year round, but the more comfortable seasons are late spring, summer and early fall.
Your choice. If you want to see everything, you need a basic fitness level to be able to walk, but it perfectly feasible to do most of this tour from your car.
Guiding only. We do not include meals or hotels in day tours, although if you would like us to help you organize other aspects of your visit, we have specialist knowledge of the facilities in the surrounding areas (Billings, MT., Sheridan, WY., and Hardin MT so we can usually help.
Full Day tour (best value) $697 for two guests (plus $75 per additional guest)
Half Day tour $497 for two guests (plus $40 per additional guest)
Ride & Guide $550 tour fee (covers two guests) plus $145 per rider
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you consider yourself to be a serious Little Bighorn historian please DO NOT hit the 'book now' button!
Instead please call the office on 307 699 6015 BEFORE BOOKING.
Or call 307 699 6015 now
Why is it worth spending a whole day on the Battle of the Little Bighorn?
When we claim to offer the best tours at the Little Bighorn, we don't say so lightly. Its time the truth of events leading to this cataclysmic event on the plains was known and accepted. And remember although the battle at the Greasy Grass was won by the Cheyenne and Lakota, the reverberations of the war still continue to this very day around many Plains Nations.
Of course you will have a great time on your tour, but our guide's responsibility is not just to you. All Little Bighorn Tours guides relate this story for the ancestors, as though the battle participants are standing with you, listening. And their goal is to be sure the story (which cost so many their lives) is told in a way that would make those participants nod, and agree that the truth is being told of their actions, deeds and sacrifices. Truth matters and we are dedicated to telling that truth.
To other tour companies who cover 'the Custer Battlefield', the mission is simply to have a guides learn enough basic information to entertain visitors, load as many mini buses from Billings as they can, and make money. They will 'throw in' excursions to nearby battlefields as a bonus, but they don't do those stories justice either. To us, this is the difference.
Will I get to walk or hike on the Little Bighorn Battlefield wherever I'd like to go?
Not just anywhere. The land of the battlefield is privately owned. The Park Service has a lease on the 4 1/2 mile road through the battlefield, and has access to 6 feet either side of the road and no further, and permission must be gained for anyone to venture onto the private lands. We get that permission for you, but there are still some restrictions.
How much time to allow at the Little Bighorn?
The best tours we offer run all day. But for the first time we are offering 1/2 day tours of the Little Bighorn Battlefield, however
we ask that you consider your tour carefully. If you truly only have a morning or afternoon in your schedule and the alternative is that you can't go with one of our guides at all, then take a 1/2 day tour. Or if you have kids, or other party members with a limited attention span, book the half day or evening tour. But before you do, please read the next FAQ down.
If I do a shorter Little Bighorn battlefield tour will I get the same information?
No. This story begins long before June 25th, 1876. It is an epic and fascinating tale of the clash of cultures that decimated Plains Indian peoples and it needs and deserves time. We can't tell a story that needs multi hours in half that time, and we don't want to give you less than our best tour. However, sometimes needs must.
Short tours run from 9:30am -12:30pm, 1:30pm - 4:30pm or 5pm -7pm.
Please call to book - +1.307.699.6015
Why do some people still call the Little Bighorn Battlefield 'the Custer Battlefield?'
Very strange that they do! Nowhere else in America is there a battlefield memorial story dedicated to the losers. But here in the West there are many descendants of the US military as well as Native descendants, which may account for the resistance in some quarters to move on and embrace the re-name that was authorized by Congress in 1991.
Tell me about the Indian Memorial at the Little Bighorn battlefield.
Native people had long asked for there to be something commemorating the battle that noted the Lakota and Cheyenne victory, but this had fallen on deaf ears until finally a competition was dreamed up to design a monument to the indigenous story. Many assumed it would be opened to Native people, so they could tell their own story (something that is lacking in interpretive signs talks at the site to this day) but actually it was opened to artists worldwide.
The architect who won was John R. Collins from Philadelphia, and he won the memorial design contest without ever setting foot in the West, beating 563 others designs. The Little Bighorn Indian Memorial is one of the most photographed areas of the battlefield, and is particularly striking with a sunset behind it. The most photographed however is the Custer monument on Last Stand Hill
Are there horseback tours at the Little Bighorn ?
Yes! if you would like to horseback ride at the Little Bighorn, we send rides out at 8am most days, but you MUST BOOK AHEAD! We do not accept walk-in bookings because this isn't the kind of nose to tail ride where horses are left saddled and tied all day in the hope that tourists will show up!
You don't need to be an experienced rider, but follow the word of your wrangler, wear shoes/boots with heels (absolutely no trainers or flipflops) and take water and a sunhat.
Things to do near the Little Bighorn ?
There are multiple related sites in the area and we offer Native American guiding at all of them:
The Battle of the Rosebud - Take the grassy path that leads through the valley toward the Old Buffalo Jump. Hear of the stories of the battle’s participants who were involved in a titanic struggle, which lasted more than 6 hours and how on June 17 went down in Cheyenne history as one of outstanding bravery – the story of the Fight Where the Girl Saved Her Brother was an event of cultural magnitude and inspiration which still resonates in the present day culture of the Cheyenne.
The Deer Medicine Rocks - It was here, in 1876, that the Lakota chief Sitting Bull had a vision of soldiers tumbling into his camp, and carved this script into the stone - the figures, though a little faint, are very visible. Not long after that, not far from here, at a place history remembers as Little Bighorn, the men of General George Custer’s 7th Cavalry played their parts, as predicted.
The Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation - The Cheyenne culture is complex, deeply spiritual and beautiful, the Tsitsistas language is still spoken, and traditional people have retained their ways. Formerly named the Tongue River Indian Reservation, the 707 square miles of what nearly 5000 residents call ‘God’s Country’ is the home of the Tsitsistas – the Morning Star People, or the Northern Cheyenne.
The Fetterman Miscalculation - If you are interested in visiting the site where Captain Fetterman led his 80 men in a forbidden charge over Lodge Trail Ridge, resulting in ambush finely planned by Lakota military leader Crazy Horse, please call the office on 307 699 6015. Please note: we offer this tour only as part of a two-tour package.
Discover the Little Bighorn - If you are very interested in all things Little Bighorn, then this exploration is the trip
for you. Spend three days in the company of one of the finest tribal historians on the Plains, visit places off limits to the general public and learn the intricacies of tribal warfare in cultural context. Learn more here