Sturgis is the Mecca for all motorcyclists, or it should be. It is a place you have to attend at least once. Once you see it, you will get addicted and return again and again. You will never regret your time there. It is a week of motorcycles, for motorcyclists. Sure, there is booze, music, and wild times, great sights and roads to ride, but it is all about the motorcycle party.
The Sturgis Rally, originally know as the Black Hills Classic, began in 1938. The Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club organized the event as a series of motorcycle races. The first event only had 9 races and a few spectators. The Rally did not really get organized until 1940 and only became a multi-day event in the 1960's. In 1964 with attendees growing and few rooms available, Sturgis opened the city park for camping. In the 1970’s the rally of today took shape. The rally became about the participants and the racing became entertainment. It was in this decade that the rally became a 7-day event and the day rides around the Black Hills took the place of the races as the primary attraction. In 1983 camping in the park came to an end. By 1995 the organization of the rally was given to a professional events manager. The size and financial importance became too much for local part time employees to continue to produce. This being the Sturgis of today.
The Rally has spread into Rapid City, Spearfish, and surrounding towns. Deadwood being the one of the most famous,with a very old western history, does dead mans hand give you a clue"? That was the hand Wild Bill Hickok was holding when he was shot in the back. Hickok and was buried in Deadwood in 1876, and in 1903 Calamity Jane was laid to rest beside him, both Deadwood icons. Today as in it's history there is still gambling in Deadwood along with the old building that were rebuilt after a fire that
devastated the town, destroying over 300 buildings and consuming everything belonging to many in 1879.
I know you have heard of the party's from Buffalo Chip, where anything goes, yes I mean anything that's fun. From beer, great concerts with top name acts, burn out pit's and I don't mean BBQ. There is also a certain lane where the women show of themselves, walking and riding. You get the idea. Buffalo Chip is not the only place there many more. The rally has spread out in the last few years. Many of the bars now have land and nice buildings outside of Sturgis unfortunately there is still that two lane road that takes you there and back, it's the only one. To get in the back way you would have to go to Belle Fourche and back on 212 to 79 south to the party, or just the stop N go on Highway 79 for about 6 miles east of Sturgis. On Wednesday this would be a great time to leave early ride west to Spearfish Canyon, and further west to Devils Tower. After spending a few hours there head back east to Hulett, Wyoming and the no panty's night. After a few drinks sights and great food stay on 24 east that turns into 34 in South Dakota to the Stone House and more partying. The Stone house is located between Hulett and Bell Fourche on the north side of hwy 24, don't look for anything special, as it's name say's it's just a stone house. as the evening is getting late 34 east to 89 north and 212 east will bring you back to the main party and Sturgis
While at the Rally, you will want to see the Badlands National Park, that is about 100 miles east of Sturgis on Interstate 90. Now don't look for any cowboy's and indians, if fact no one even wanted that land. It's a nice ride through a park that has dead land around, there get's the name The Badlands. If you are really looking for a great ride take Hwy 44 from Rapid City east to the county road 377 into the south side of the park then 240 back west to Wall, South Dakota the Interstate 90 west back to the party. Other sights are MT Rushmore, Custer State Park where you will ride along side of buffalo and wild ass's, "donkeys" what were you thinking? Just great rides are Needles Hwy. don't forget to ride into Nemo from there into Sturgis that is a great ride. If you ship your bike and fly into the Rapid City Airport pick up the map of the area it will be great help if this is your first time or your 68 time, there are always new attractions, and roads.
If your really in for a ride, go west about 370 miles or so. A few years ago when a friend of mine Jerry got off the plane in Rapid City and look at the Black Hills his statement was, is that all there is to these mountains? I told him to look just past the Black Hills to those white clouds, he did, I them informed him that was were we were going and and it was hard water "snow". The mountain range is know as the Bighorn Mountains, from Deadwood just take 14 west until your about 11,000 feet, your there. Now that you have ridden this far spend a day and go to Cody, Wy. Chief Joseph Hwy and Bears Tooth Pass. By the way, Jerry had an interesting ride down Bears Tooth. "slow and easy"
I began going to Sturgis some 20 years ago, in the beginning I shipped my bike into Denver and rode to Sturgis, by way of the Flaming Gorge and Yellowstone National Park. Someone once said it's all about the ride. I agree it is about the ride, however because of time restraints and the sights I wanted to see shipping became a better idea. You also leave out the 4200 miles "round trip" of interstate with the same scenery each way. By shipping instead of the interstate, I have the chance to ride back to Yellowstone, and along the way enjoying Chief Joseph Scenic Hwy. and Bears Tooth Pass. Both roads are a biker's Dream. I have ridden all over the west and to Alaska via the Alaskan Hwy. There are five roads that must be ridden this is one. How I determine the must be ridden roads is the road must be over one hundred and fifty miles of continuous beautiful scenery. Now that's a ride. I do not ship to Denver and ride to Sturgis anymore, now it's straight to Sturgis and ride west.
Back, to the it's all about the ride. One of my rides I was riding with Al, Mike, Dan and Joe to Yellowstone, from Sturgis we stopped in Cody, WY. to have lunch at Buffalo Bills restaurant, the Erma, "named after Buffalo Bills daughter" We had an idea to camp that night, we had sleeping bags so all we needed was a tent. Mike, Dan and I bought one apeice.That night as the tempters dropped to 30 we froze our buts off, even with a camp fire. When were finely packed and on our way crossing Bears Tooth Pass we stopped at the Top Of The World. Temp 16 degrees. Ya it was cold down right freezing. By the time we got off the pass the temp warmed up to the sixty's and later that day into the seventy's. Oh Al and Joe went on to Red Lodge, MT. and slept in warm beds. From Red Lodge we went back over the pass to Yellowstone and camped out again still got cold but no where near the night before. By the way that was the end of our camping. Note: when going on a trip always bring warm gear and rain gear. Remember, this was in August and about 10,000 feet above sea level
Two years ago on my way to Yellowstone from the Sturgis Rally I stopped at a favorite watering hole, The Spotted Horse on Wyoming Hwy 14 in Spotted Horse, Wyoming. It's not hard to find as it is the only building in town and 40 miles from nowhere. While there having a beer and one of the best hamburgers with my riding buddy Greg. The front door open and in walked Peter Fonda. The bar is small and you could have heard a pin drop. Here was the man for me start it all. The owners knew Pete well he seemed like a nice guy. Being bold I walked up to him introduced myself and we chatted about bikes, fuel additives and just what ever, Greg, all he could do or say, well stuttering was" that's Peter Fonda", The Easy Rider. The look on Greg's face was priceless. After some time with Peter, Greg and I left, we took no pictures and asked for no autographs, I still regret not doing so, but later it paid off. You may wonder why does he stop at the Spotted Horse every year on his way to Sturgis? It seems a few years ago he hit a deer just down the road. Now he stops every year and drinks a beer to the deer.The next year, I met him again at the Spotted Horse and rode to Sturgis with him. Talk about a ride.
Yes' It is all about the ride, the friendship, the adventure and the new roads and visiting our nations parks. From the break downs to the drink you have with strangers and meeting people on the two lanes. It is definitely all about the ride, but for me it's not the four thousand miles of interstate to get there and back.
Singletary Motorcycle Transport