Places to See at The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
I have to admit; there are few things I look forward more to than the Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. If you are a motorcycle enthusiast that loves to get out on the open road and experience our country in all of it’s grandeur, and you also like to cut loose and have some fun, the Sturgis Rally is un-matched. Historic landmarks, unique country towns, great nightlife and concerts, and breathtaking scenery highlight every rally and make every visit to Sturgis memorable.
There really is something for everyone. World famous bars and taverns are popular stops for everyone looking to cut loose. Unique shopping opportunities can also be found throughout the black hills area, as well as beautiful parks and vistas. Below is a my of some of my favorite things to do at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
Main Street Sturgis
Looking for a great souvenir to bring home? Perhaps you are just looking to find that great Sturgis Rally Shirts to wear back home. Then Main Street in Sturgis is the place to be. During the rally, Main Street is strictly motorcycles-only and a great place to walk around. The street is filled with vendors, good restaurants and notorious saloons.
Spend some time on Main Street and you will also see some of the most uniquely customized motorcycles around. From choppers to cruisers to virtually anything on two wheels, you will see it on Main Street.
Iron Horse Saloon
Just off of Main Street in Sturgis, you cannot miss the Iron Horse Saloon. The multi-story 25,000 square foot location has multiple dining options and hosts some of the most raucous indoor and outdoor entertainment. Some of Sturgis best live concerts can be seen at the Iron Horse. All concerts at iron horse saloon are free and open to the public ages 21+.
They call it the “Legendary” Buffalo Chip campground for a reason. It is the unofficial center of the rally with bike shows, vendors, and concerts. Each year the Buffalo Chip Campground main stage hosts some of the biggest names in music. Hundreds of top name acts have played the main stage. Additionally, there are smaller stages throughout the campground keep your party going before and after the main. A great thing; all entertainment is free if you camp there, but individual day passes are available to purchase as well. Visit the vendors, pickup a souvenir or your favorite motorcycle t-shirts, and stay and watch an array of rides, races, bike shows, contests, exhibits, and outrageous events that make Buffalo Chip a must see in Sturgis.
Full Throttle Saloon
The original Full Throttle Saloon (FTS) was built on a 30-acre lot in Sturgis, SD and featured as whole bunch of fun stuff including music stages, zip lines, a tattoo parlor and camping. It called itself the world’s largest biker bar. Full throttle also gained a lot of fame as it was featured in it’s own reality TV series on TruTV for five seasons.
In 2015, the original FTS burned down due to a catastrophic fire. The new Full Throttle Saloon sits on 600 acres in Vale, near Bear Butte, on what used to be the Broken Spoke Campground. If you are visited FTS, my advice is to get there early. It is reported that they serve about 15,000 people night! Due to the amount of beer that they go through, they say that tractor-trailers have to deliver nightly after 3am to keep up with demand and to avoid the streets being crowded with bikes. FTS also features it’s own line of spirits including the Full Throttle 70 Proof Espresso Shot and S’loonshine. Looking for something unique to give you that extra kick? Try the Oil Spill, which is Full Throttle Espresso Shot and Guinness over ice.
No trip to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is complete without taking a ride to Mount Rushmore. You may have seen Mount Rushmore before during a family vacation, but nothing compares to seeing it while on a motorcycle. Cruising through the beautiful Black Hills Forest, Mount Rushmore rises above dense forests and pristine streams. It is a true national treasure, symbolizing the ideals of freedom and democracy, it is a tribute to four presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln and their invaluable contributions to the United States.
If you are up for a full days adventure, I recommend starting early and heading down to do the Custer Wildlife Loop as well as Needles Highway (more on these below), then hit Mount Rushmore. It’s a lot to jam in one day, but you will love every minute of it. Here is my map:
I never miss a chance to visit Custer State Park. The 71,000 acre park is truly the gem of the Black Hills. Custer State Park features some of the hills’ most spectacular views and wildlife, including a herd of free-roaming bison 1,300 strong. No Sturgis Rally experience is complete without cruising through the park’s famous 18-mile wildlife loop where you have the chance to come face to face with the bison herd. Custer is also where you will find some unique scenic drives, including the famous winding Needles Highway.
The Needles Highway is a spectacular drive through pine and spruce forests, meadows, rock tunnels, and granite mountains. The needlelike granite formations that seem to pierce the horizon everywhere along the way is how the highway got its name.
An old gold rush town, Deadwood was founded on gold mining in the Black Hills, and the town has stayed very true to its old west feel with its gaming halls, saloons and casinos. Enjoy a ride through the town’s brick-laid streets and take time to stop at one of the saloons for lunch or gambling. There is also a lot of history to discover in this old town. With plenty of activities and entertainment both day and night it is easy to understand why Deadwood is on everyone’s to-do list during the Sturgis Rally.
The city of Spearfish is one of the most popular cities in South Dakota year round, not just for the Sturgis Rally. Only 20 miles away from Sturgis, the city of Spearfish is a great escape from the crows of the rally. Spearfish is also the gateway to Spearfish Canyon. Spearfish Canyon is stunningly beautiful 20-mile canyon road is a must-see for visitors to the Black Hills. A good part of the road runs parallel to rushing water as it cuts through 1,000-foot-tall cliff faces that rise above the dense tree-line.
The old west town of Hulett, Wyoming is located only 9 miles west of Devils Tower. Hulett is a beautiful community nestled within the grassy prairies and pine-covered bluffs. During the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Hulett will often see over 100,000 motorcycle riders pass through the town, often on their way to Devils Tower. The route from Sturgis to Hulett, WY and Devil’s Tower on the Spirit Highway/Highway 24 is a memorable ride filled with classic western scenery and historical landmarks.
If you are looking for a picture perfect destination to post photos on social media, then Devils Tower, Wyoming is your place. Devils Tower, Wyoming sits at the entrance to the National Park, our county’s first national monument. The monument’s legendary stature towers over the surrounding landscape. It is easy to see why the area is so rich in history. Those that appreciate sci-fi movies with notice that Close Encounters of the Third Kind, released in 1977, was filmed at Devils Tower.
There you have it. Some of my must-see destinations while you attend the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. I recommend that every motorcycle enthusiast make it out to the rally at least once. Of course, if you go once, you will definitely want to go again… and again. Keep an eye out for the gang here at Wayward Moto Gear as we will be all over the Black Hills enjoying the event of the year. We will be easy to pick out, wearing our uniquely custom designed motorcycle graphic shirts. Hope to see you there!