An event owned by no one, the Sturgis Rally is an 81-year-old gathering of like-minded people who share a passion for motorcycles and the open road. The Sturgis Rally began as a friendly competition between a few friends – a two-day event with only 9 competitors and a tiny crowd. It has now grown into a ten-day bike rally featuring rides, bike exhibitions, and music unlike any other in the world.
Hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists go to the Black Hills for one of the largest and longest-running motorcycle rallies in the world. Sturgis and its outskirts are teeming with campers, bikers, onlookers, and just about everything else. Merchants and food vendors from all over the country descend on downtown Sturgis for the event. Walking along Main and Lazelle streets in Sturgis is a spectacle in itself. Some of the largest personalities and wackiest custom bikes may be found here.
A motorbike trip through the Black Hills and Badlands is an exhilarating adventure with spectacular views. The entire region is studded with spectacular rides from all directions.
When Was The First Sturgis Motorcycle Rally?
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was first organized for stunts and races in 1938 by a group of Indian Motorcycle riders. Clarence “Pappy” Hoel, the founder of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, acquired an Indian Motorcycle franchise in Sturgis, South Dakota in 1936. He created the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club a year after. The Jackpine Gypsies motorcycle club hosted the first Sturgis Rally, dubbed the Black Hills Classic, which took place on August 14th, 1938, with only nine competitors and a tiny crowd.
The Sturgis Rally has since been organized every year, except during World War II. From 1939 through 1941, the Rally was canceled due to gas restrictions in support of the war effort. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally made a comeback in 1942. The Hill Climb and Motocross events were first held by the Jackpine Gypsies in 1961. Since then, the rally has evolved into a multi-faceted event that includes activities organized by a variety of organizations.
The Buffalo Chip Campground was built outside of town to meet the demands of forthcoming rally participants. In 1982, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally hosted the first campers. The area has grown over the years to incorporate merchants, campers, cabins, and stages, making it one of the rally’s largest entertainment centers.
In 1987, the Buffalo Chip’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally entertainment was expanded to the current 10-day and 9-night style.
What Happens During The Rally?
The whole town is swarmed with motorbikes, parties, bike displays, and live performances during the festival. People come from all over the world to ride, sightsee, and soak up the atmosphere. It doesn’t matter if you ride a Harley-Davidson, a custom chopper, or if you’re just there as a rally-goer and not a rider, because the rally has something to offer for everyone.
Sturgis Hall of Fame and Motorcycle Museum
Take in the collection of antique bikes and artifacts and learn more about the history of motorbikes as well as the people who have had a long-term positive impact on the motorcycle community.
Every minute spent at this event and every inch you see is a bike show itself. The streets are lined with a massive variety of automobiles. Motorcycling celebrities and motor-enthusiast personalities and crazy customized motorcycles are a sight to behold. You might even get to test drive one yourself.
Every day of the rally, there are a variety of races to select from, ranging from Moto-X to PRO-AM hill climbs.
Main Street is closed to pedestrians during the rally and is a fantastic area to wander around. Vendors, fine eateries, and infamous saloons line the street.
Buffalo Chip Campground
A well-known Sturgis destination, the campground is on the outskirts of the protest, yet it’s the self-declared hub of action. A bike display, roller derby, merchants that will maintain your bike, musical concerts, and a large swimming pool are all available to campers at the campground.
There are competitions for delicious food, bizarre facial hair, and a myriad of tattoos in Sturgis, plus more to take part in or cheer on.
Enjoy picturesque rides to landmarks and roads through national parks, and spend a relaxing afternoon exploring the Black Hills.
Where Are The Best Places To Ride?
It’s difficult to know where to begin in the Black Hills because there are so many magnificent roads and renowned bucket-list sites. Below are some routes to try.
Most travelers’ bucket lists include a visit to America’s Shrine of Democracy. The sculpture can be seen from Route 244 as it snakes along the ridge, so you don’t have to go inside Mt. Rushmore National Memorial to see it. However, the admission fee is worth it to see the wonderfully planned park and learn about the monument’s history. Mt. Rushmore is also a fantastic place to start a journey down Iron Mountain Road or Needles Highway.
Iron Mountain Road
US 16A, also known as Iron Mountain Road, runs between Keystone and Mt Rushmore and ends just east of the Custer State Park Wildlife Loop. The Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway runs through it. It has three granite rock tunnels to pass through and offers excellent views of Mt Rushmore. You will also cross the three pigtail bridges, which are corkscrew structures that can give you a hard ride and an upper-body workout.
Alternative Route 14 through Spearfish Canyon, accessible from I-90 exits 12 or 14, is without a doubt one of the best 22 miles on two wheels. It’s the quintessential picturesque route, with sheer cliffs cutting through the valley, bubbling streams, waterfalls, and breathtaking views around every bend.
The 17-mile run down Vanocker Canyon Road (Forest Service Road 26) is undoubtedly one of the most thrilling Black Hills motorcycle rides, with visible twists and switchbacks leading to a dramatic downward plunge after around five miles.
If you don’t feel like getting caught in the crowd, these are some of the places to go to. The Thermosphere Gallery is a one-of-a-kind attraction in the Black Hills. It’s off a well-kept gravel road outside Spearfish, under a geodesic dome studded with fantastical globes created by the artist Dick Termes, who dubbed the artworks as ‘Termespheres.’ The gallery is one of the country’s most eccentric art places.
The Journey Museum & Learning Center, located in the center of Rapid City, will get you started on your journey across the gorgeous Black Hills. The Journey Museum & Learning Center, which has a desire for creating a place where families can learn and play together, takes you through the rich history of the Black Hills and Native American culture through four main exhibits: Geology and Paleontology, Archaeology, Native American Culture, and Pioneer History.
Rush Mountain Adventure Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota offers excitement for all ages! Explore Rushmore Cave, the nearest cave to Mount Rushmore, ride the Rushmore Mountain Coaster, fly through the sky on the Soaring Eagle Zip Ride, shoot them up on the Gunslinger 7-D Ride, and unleash your inner daredevil on the Wingwalker Challenge Course.
What Should I Bring To The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally?
When you visit Sturgis, you should dress in proper attire and accessories. Here are a few outfit suggestions for the Sturgis Rally:
- Pack light and plan to buy new clothing and gear when you get to the rally. Two pairs of jeans, two shirts, and one week’s worth of underwear should be enough, leaving room for souvenir tees to be worn while you’re there.
- Protection Gears. Check out Krazy Katz Moto Gear for your best options.
- Warm layers of clothing. As the sun sets and the canyon is surrounded by shadows, rides like Spearfish Canyon can take the summer rider off a surprise. The world record for the largest temperature shift in 24 hours is believed to have been set by Spearfish.
- Wet weather gear. Summer storms are frequent through the Black Hills so you will need a solid set of rain gear to avoid being drenched. Make sure you have them with you when you leave the house.
- Helmet. Adults in South Dakota are not required to wear helmets. However, neighboring states do. Krazy Katz Moto Gear has many designs for you to choose from.
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Great content! Keep up the good work!