Today we're going to talk about Sturgis, the biggest motorcycle gathering in the world.
It's exciting to be there.
It's even more exciting to ride there from all corners of this country.
But where do you start? What do you want to see along the way?
We've put together this expanded guide with 9 routes to get you to Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and a few local suggestions.
A BIT ABOUT THE STURGIS RALLY
First, a short intro for everyone who's heard of Sturgis, but doesn't know the back story on how this rally got started.
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is one of the world's largest and best-known motorcycle events.
Camaraderie, fantastic riding, street food, bike events, and concerts are the main attractions, not to mention the stunning South Dakota scenery and the rich history of the Rally.
Sturgis truly is a one-of-a-kind, all-American event that makes for an unforgettable motorcycle vacation experience.
WHEN IS STURGIS MOTORCYCLE RALLY?
Dates of the rally vary every year, but historically Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is held in the first week of August. The first weekend is always packed with music, events, announcements, and attracts the largest crowds.
We have 200 locations to choose from when you're planning for a starting point on your trip. DENVER and RAPID CITY (only 20 minutes away from Sturgis) are two of the most popular pickup locations for Sturgis rentals.
Getting around Sturgis and Rapid City during that time takes longer because the legendary rally attracts more than half a million riders each year.
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally began as a motorcycle racing event in 1938. Founded by Clarence "Pappy" Hoel and his Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club, the first Rally attracted nine racers and a crowd of 175 onlookers.
Rally attendees slept in Hoel's back yard, and ever since, camping at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally has become a tradition.
Little by little, the event grew as new race and stunt elements were added. Board wall riding, ramp jumps, and Hillclimb races all found a place in Sturgis. The event had a brief pause between 1942 and 1943 because of gasoline rationing during the Second World War, then resumed in 1944.
Sturgis has been going strong ever since seeing record attendance of over 600,000 riders in 2000. In 2020, Sturgis is celebrating its 80th anniversary and expects to break attendance records once again.
Since August is the perfect month for riding in South Dakota, many riders choose to travel to Sturgis days or even weeks before the actual event.
During the event the town's population swells from around 8,000 to over 500,000, so book your accommodation in advance to avoid last minute panic.
EagleRider offers a nationwide network of rental locations, 100+ tour itineraries (including 4 brand new tours to Sturgis, which we'll talk about in a minute), and bike+hotel packages that can be upgraded to group travel–additional van, bi-lingual driver, and mobile app with the route to guide you along the way.
Essentially, you can pick a bike to ride and add any extras for the trip that you need. We can make all your wildest dreams become reality.
WHERE TO STAY IN STURGIS MOTORCYCLE RALLY?
Over 300 camping, hotel, cabin, and resort accommodations are available in and around Sturgis and Deadwood. Hotels are usually booked up months in advance and prices increase significantly when the rally dates are approaching. Airbnb and bringing your own RV are two other options for a comfortable stay.
Every year, EagleRider contracts hundreds of rooms for our customers. If you want to save on both AND HOTEL STAY, PLEASE REACH OUT TO OUR TEAM. OUR BIKE+HOTEL DAILY RATES start at $210/day and include both your HARLEY-DAVIDSON RENTAL and a motorcycle friendly hotel or motel of your choice.
WHILE AT THE RALLY
Riding etiquette in Sturgis is the same as on the road: be respectful, do not hog the road or the parking spaces, be courteous to other riders, and never touch or sit on someone else's bike without permission.
Lazelle Street in Sturgis is the main cruising strip to go to see and be seen. This is the main drag through Sturgis. Parking is available on Main Street and all the side streets–simply follow the signs and park where allowed.
Although Sturgis is a well-organized and safe event, motorcycle theft isn't uncommon, so make sure your motorcycle is parked in a well-lit area and do not leave any valuables on your bike when you're going for a stroll. For added safety, bring a good quality disc or cable lock.
Lazelle Street and Main Street are lined with bars, shops, restaurants, and souvenir stalls, but these aren't the only places to hang out. Music concerts, custom bike build shows, and many other activities take place all over town and on off-site venues like the Sturgis Buffalo Chip campsite and Iron Horse Saloon.
Buffalo Chip is where many of the major events and performances happen.
Make sure your motorcycle is parked safely before you start sampling the drinks, and if you are planning to buy Sturgis souvenirs, wait until the end of the Rally as the prices are drastically reduced in the last days.
Finally, pack both sunscreen and rainwear for Sturgis as the weather in August is very hot and sudden rainstorms are frequent.
Every year, thousands of EagleRider customers ride and party in Sturgis. So, we send plenty of support staff and the tech of service tech always makes sure everyone is road ready.
Our managers are happy to assist if you ever need help on the road. We offer several insurance packages and roadside assistance, so you can enjoy your time fully.
RIDING AROUND STURGIS
Sturgis is located at the very edge of the Black Hills National Forest, a beautiful wilderness area of rugged rocks, canyons, forested mountains, and grasslands. The Black Hills has some of the best riding in South Dakota, especially along Highway 385 that cuts right across the Forest.
The biggest highlights of the local area are:
- Devil's Tower National Monument
- Mount Rushmore National Memorial
- Badlands National Park
- Crazy Horse Memorial
- Custer State Park
- Bear Butte State Park
- Needles Highway (Hwy 87)
- Spearfish Canyon (14A)
- Iron Mountain Road (16A)
We created a few suggested routes that combine the best of the riding with the most sought after places to see.
ROUTE 1 (CUSTER STATE PARK AND MORE)
If you plan to have several full days of riding, our first recommendation is to head down from Rapid City to Custer State Park, a unique wildlife reserve that is home to free-roaming herds of bison.
To this route, we added Crazy Horse Memorial, Wind Cave National Park, Hill City, Silver City, and Deadwood. This 191- mile loop is a great way to spend a day before the evening entertainment. There are numerous ways to carve out a route that's both scenic and incredibly fun to ride.
EAGLERIDER STURGIS DAY RIDE ROUTE 1MAP IT
ROUTE 2 (DEVIL'S TOWER)
No trip to Sturgis is complete without a ride to Devil's Tower National Monument. You've seen it in photos and movies. Now it's time to start your engines and go for a ride on HWY 44 up North and turn this into a loop by coming down through Deadwood.
EAGLERIDER STURGIS DAY RIDE ROUTE 2MAP IT
ROUTE 3 (BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK)
An hour East from Sturgis lies the Badlands National Park, a magnificent natural wonder of red and yellow rock spires and buttes. For the best views, ride Highway 44 and take the narrow two-lane Route 240 back which offers several pullouts revealing the stunning vistas of the Badlands.
EAGLERIDER STURGIS DAY RIDE ROUTE 3MAP IT
ROUTE 4 (BEAR BUTTE)
Bear Butte State Park is a great ride when you need some fresh breeze and a visit to the sacred mountain where many Native American ceremonies and rituals take place. You're likely to see bison in the area, please offer them plenty of space when you pass them by.
EAGLERIDER STURGIS DAY RIDE ROUTE 4MAP IT
ROUTE 5 (MOUNT RUSHMORE, DEADWOOD)
Another scenic ride will take you to Mount Rushmore through Needles Highway, or SD 87, is one of the most beautiful rides in the Park offering views of the famous granite pillars and rolling hills. We will then head north through Spearfish Canyon, a breath-taking gorge carved through limestone rocks.
EAGLERIDER STURGIS DAY RIDE ROUTE 5MAP IT
RIDING INTO STURGIS
Although many riders choose to trailer their bikes to Sturgis or rent a motorcycle locally, riding into Sturgis is a veritable two-wheeled pilgrimage.
Whether you are coming in from the neighboring states or riding cross-country, America has some of the best motorcycling roads on the planet to explore.
ROUTE FROM DENVER, COLORADO
Most of us don't have the luxury of riding for two weeks from our home to get to Sturgis and then spend another 2 weeks to ride back home. It's fair to say that most of the riders would be jealous of so much riding time available.
Most of us, however, are limited by work and family commitments. Yet we still want to have a fabulous time in Sturgis and spend quality time riding.
Denver is home to one of the nearby major airports and a popular arrival city for Sturgis trips. Our rental locations in Denver offer a variety of makes and models for rent. We also have a special treat for you - A 10-DAY GUIDED TOUR that will take you through backroads and introduce you to riders from all over the world who will become your friends for life in no time.
This tour includes enough time to really explore what Sturgis Motorcycle Rally has to offer, ride amazing nearby routes, and have great social time with the tour group and other fellow riders you'll find yourself with in these 10 days of adventure.
ROUTE FROM LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
There are over a thousand miles between Las Vegas and Sturgis, but if you have the time, there is some spectacular riding in between.
You'll get to see the best of American West and bond with other riders on the tour. If you choose to do this as a self-guided ride, there is an option to head further south to add a great stretch of Route 66 from Oatman to Williams before heading up to Grand Canyon and amazing scenery fo Utah.
On our LAS VEGAS TO STURGIS TOUR, there are three days to enjoy local riding, rally festivities, and a great company of thousands of riders.
ROUTE FROM SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
The most scenic ride from Salt Lake City to Sturgis is via Yellowstone National Park. On this SALT LAKE CITY TO STURGIS 12-DAY TOUR, we start the ride heading North to Yellowstone, a must-visit for any motorcyclist riding in the Western USA.
Dramatic canyon and mountain scenery, stunning geysers, hot springs, and waterfalls, as well as abundant wildlife, make Yellowstone a spectacular destination to explore.
There are several special treats on this journey to Sturgis. Cody, Wyoming is home to the best rodeo you'll probably ever observe. Buffalo Bill Museum is another great stop in the city.
We head further north on Chief Scenic Byway that connects to Beartooth Highway 212 in Montana. It's one of the best rides in America and will be one of the highlights of your time on any motorcycle.
ROUTE FROM MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN
Welcome home, to the birthplace of Harley-Davidson, the iconic brand that got so many of us into motorcycling in the first place and continues to be our companion for thousands of miles of adventure.
This trip starts with a VIP visit to the HARLEY-DAVIDSON MUSEUM, an impressive tribute to the 115 years of history, innovation, passion, and comradery that the Harley-Davidson brand stands for.
After a few days in Milwaukee, we start to make our way West to South Dakota, with every mile getting closer to the rumble of thousands of motorcycles making their way to the rally.
CREATE A CUSTOM ROUTE
There are many other cities that can be a great start to your journey to Sturgis. Here is a short list of our suggested starting points for your rides.
- LOS ANGELES
- SAN DIEGO
- SAN FRANCISCO
- NEW ORLEANS
- NEW YORK CITY
- WASHINGTON DC
We will continue to update this post with more routes and helpful information. If you're heading to Sturgis soon, we wish you a great time and hope you choose to fly and ride with us to this one of a kind motorcycle rally.