10 Gems of the Sturgis Rally You Have to See | Black Hills Travel Blog

10 Gems of the Sturgis Rally You Have to See

  • 10 Gems of the Sturgis Rally You Have to See
    10 Gems of the Sturgis Rally You Have to See
Wednesday, October 4, 2023
By : 
Black Hills and Badlands Tourism

Experiencing Main Street Sturgis during the Rally for the first time—music spilling out of virtually every venue, mixing with the melody of a thousand motorcycle engines, while a perpetual tide of people flows up and down the sidewalks—can be overwhelming at first sight. There’s so much to see and do, and never enough hours in the day to squeeze in everything. Here are a few nuggets to help you on your way to planning and maximizing your time at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Black Hills Harley-Davidson

Every year, Black Hills Harley-Davidson attracts some of the leading aftermarket parts and accessories manufacturers in the industry. Black Hills Harley-Davidson is your one-stop shopping destination, the place you can see all of the latest Harley motorcycles, test drive them, and then haggle a deal on a new ride to take home. For those who already own a motorcycle, you can buy new tires, exhaust, seats, handlebars, controls, gauges, and gadgets and have everything mounted on the spot. There’s always a long list of entertainment to liven up the atmosphere along with numerous food and beverage booths. The dealership is right off Interstate 90 outside of Rapid City on your way to Sturgis and is one of the best places to check out the hottest new products in one spot. Stop by for their Pre-Rally Rollout July 31-Aug. 1 for good food, free entertainment, and more. 


Charity Rides

What better way to tour the region than on an organized ride that contributes to a charity? The camaraderie of the group rides is a one-of-a-kind feeling and an awesome way to build lifelong connections with motorcycle enthusiasts from across the country. There are more than a few rides that go to different places in the Hills, but here are a few of the biggest must-dos. 

Now one of the most iconic organized rides of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, the Legends Ride leads hundreds of bikers from Deadwood on a 50-mile trek to the Sturgis Buffalo Chip. Each year, celebrities head the ride and wrap up the event with a private reception and a headlining concert at the Chip. The best part? Since its inception in 2008, the ride has raised almost half a million dollars. Whether you ride or find a viewing spot to see the massive group ride together, it's high on the list of Sturgis events. 

To honor one of the founders responsible for the legacy that grew to become the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, register for the Pappy Hoel Memorial Ride. The ride will take place Wednesday, August 9, 2023, and takes off from the Full Throttle Saloon at 10 a.m. Proceeds benefit local charities, so your dollars stay right in the Black Hills and Badlands.

If you want to see the Crazy Horse Memorial® and you want to do it as a group, the Medicine Wheel Ride is the one for you. Starting at Bear Butte State Park outside of Sturgis, this ride raises awareness and support for issues that affect Indian Country. 100% of the registration fees for this event support local Native non-profits in the Black Hills area working to Protect, Defend, and Empower Native Women and Families. It's a good-length ride that takes you right up close to the World's Largest Mountain Carving in Progress. 

NASCAR fans will clamor to join the Rusty Wallace Charity Ride to meet and ride alongside Rusty Wallace, his celebrity NASCAR driver friends, and top racing industry executives. The Kickoff party starts at Black Hills Harley-Davidson and goes through an incredible route chosen by Rusty to an exclusive reception at the Legendary Sturgis Buffalo Chip. Food, drinks, and swag will be provided after the ride. Meet your NASCAR heroes and put your money to a good cause.

Downtown Sturgis

During the days of the Rally, the town of Sturgis and the surrounding area bustles with campers, food trucks, bikers, on-lookers and everything in between from across the country. You just can't beat walking the streets of downtown Sturgis while everything is going on. Buy a t-shirt or two, grab a drink, and catch free concerts in spots like Harley-Davidson Rally Point, the Knuckle Saloon and the Loud American Roadhouse. Most of all, make sure you keep your eyes peeled—walking Main and Lazelle streets in Sturgis is nothing short of an adventure. Here, you can catch some of the biggest characters and craziest custom bikes.

While you take in the sights, make one of your downtown stops Rally Point on Main Street. One of its featured attractions is a dais you can ride up on and take a picture of you and your motorcycle with the legendary “Sturgis” hillside sign in the background. This is the shot that every rider wants—best of all, it’s free! You might have to wait your turn in line, but that’s a small price to pay for a once-in-a-lifetime shot. Afterward, make your way to the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum to soak in the history of the Rally and motorcycle culture in America.

While it's not exactly downtown, motorcycle racing, and the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club have been a part of the Sturgis Rally since the get-go. What better way to honor the spirit of the Rally’s roots than by checking out the Jackpine Gypsies Hillclimbs while you're in town? Bodies and dirt are guaranteed to be flying up the steep, slippery slope, hanging on to high-powered machines while they rocket up the hill. It may be hard to see when you watch them, but hill climbers are undoubtedly a fearless lot with a special skill set. If you have time to take the detour and watch this talented lot of bikers, go ahead and take it. Every part of Sturgis is an experience, and these stops aren't ones you can miss. 

The Sturgis Buffalo Chip®

Located just east of Sturgis, the Sturgis Buffalo Chip® holds thier own lineup of wild Rally events and provides excellent camping close to all the Rally action to keep the party going all 9 days. Established in 1981, the Chip is the home to the Largest Music Festival in Motorcycling®, bringing together motorcycles and music. Swing by this year to watch big-name entertainment like REO Speedwagon, Kid Rock, and more. Or, catch some of their sights and events like the Field of Flags, Big Engine Bar, Bikini Beach, Fan Fest contests, and more. 

Not to be missed at the Chip, the Motorcycles as Art exhibit by Michael Lichter is located inside the Buffalp Chip Event Center outside the east gate. Over the course of a few decades, Lichter has now curated a splendid exhibit of custom bikes, artwork, photography, and memorabilia to spark awe in any motorcycle enthusiast. The exhibit and many of their events, bike shows, and concerts are free to the public, so get out to The Chip and check it all out for yourself.

For a full list of everything going on at the chip, take a look at our Sturgis Motorcycle Rally page. 

Death Wire Daredevil Spectacular


Also at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip®  is the Death Wire Daredevil Spectacular. On Thursday, August 10 at 5:00pm - marking the start of the Def Leppard concert- motorcycle Daredevil Kyle Ives will attempt to jump over Blake Wallenda as he tries one of the longest wire-walks of his career. Both descendants of legendary stunt performers, these two legends will have attendees on the edge of their seats as they perform a trick not even Evel Knievel and Karl Wallenda wouldn't attempt! 

Crazy Horse Memorial®

While a visit to the faces on Mount Rushmore is a given, many forget to round out their mountain carving viewing with a ride down the road to see the World's Largest Mountain Carving in Progress—Crazy Horse Memorial®. Emerging from granite and iron in the Southern Black Hills, Crazy Horse Memorial® is the world’s largest mountain carving in progress, eventually standing 563 feet high and 641 feet long when completed. The dream began in 1939 when Chief Henry Standing Bear invited sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to create a tribute to the North American Indians to show that, “the red man has great heroes, also.”

Today, a group of dedicated mountain crew members works hard to carve the Lakota warrior, Crazy Horse, upon his steed. Visit the memorial to see and learn more about the progress, as well as tour the Indian Museum of North America® and even watch the Legends in Light® laser show in the evening. 

Devils Tower National Monument

The Black Hills spill across the South Dakota state border and into the western parts of Wyoming. And just beyond the national forest, America's first National Monument stands 1,267 feet from the prairie. Devils Tower is a sight to behold, whether you're a geology fanatic or just another person cruising the highway. One of the most picturesque drives in the region, the 52-mile journey from Belle Fourche to Devils Tower National Monument takes you through the picturesque Belle Fourche River Valley. The drive passes through the historic coal-mining hub of Aladdin, WY, and climbs through ponderosa pine forests. As you approach the town of Hulett, WY, glimpses of the tower emerge from the ranches and grasslands surrounding the rocky hills. The ride is excellent, the views are beautiful, and the sight of the monument can't be beaten.

Needles Highway/Iron Mountain Road

Rated at the highest difficulty riding in the Black Hills and Badlands, the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway—comprised of Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road—is a favorite among riders and is considered by many to be the most scenic ride in the area. Iron Mountain’s pigtail turns, switchbacks, and tunnels that frame Mount Rushmore were created so visitors could enjoy the beauty of the Black Hills. Ride the entire loop, relish the perfectly scenic views of Mount Rushmore, and then continue on into Custer State Park to the park’s wildlife loop and view diverse scenery and wildlife, including around 1,300 head of wild buffalo. 

Spearfish Canyon

Riding right along the burbling Spearfish Creek, Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway is a picturesque and leisurely ride through thousand-foot-high limestone palisades. Several waterfalls can be found in the canyon, including Bridal Veil Falls, as well as wildlife, swaying birch trees and sweeping curves. Take the short drive through the canyon or continue your ride to Highway 385 via Lead for a longer, meandering ride to the Central Hills. 

Badlands Scenic Loop

A trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota wouldn't be complete without also making your way through the Badlands. The park's Martian-like landscape is out of this world and the curves of the road between the buttes are a joy. Keep your eye out for buffalo, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs and more. You're guaranteed to feel like a certified cowboy while you ride into the sun across this spaghetti western scene. On your way back to the Black Hills, stop in the town of Wall to see the world-famous Wall Drug Store and grab your free ice water and a homemade doughnut. Once you get back home, you can tell everyone you saw it all at least once!

While you're in town for the Rally, be sure to make your first stop by the Sturgis Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau for info, maps, and a welcome pack to the city. 

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