Sturgis week, is around the first week every August. It is a gathering of motorcycle riders from all over the world. Sturgis Week originally started as a race called “The Black Hills Classic”.
Hosted by the “Jackpine Gypsies”, and their founder Pappy Hoel, who opened an Indian Motorcycle franchise in Sturgis in 1936. Both have been inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame. Needless to say, Sturgis week, has grown over the years, stopping only once in 1942, due to fuel rationing during WWII.
Sturgis Week, is held in the scenic Black Hills of South Dakota, offers some the best motorcycle riding you will experience anywhere. Having attended Sturgis Week many times, I’ve had the chance to ride all over the Black Hills. Below are some of my favorites.
Favorite Rides In Sturgis Week
- Spearfish Canyon Ride
- Needles Highway – Iron Mountain Ride
- Devils Tower Ride
- The Badlands Ride
This is an excellent ride, surrounded by steep canyon walls, dotted with waterfalls, caves and walking trails.
Start off by taking 14A out of Spearfish and wind your way between 1,000 ft canyon walls.
Bridal Veil Falls will come up on your left, make sure to stop for this really cool waterfall.
Continue up the canyon to Savoy, stop here to visit Roughlock Falls, so scenic that the final scenes of Dancing with Wolves were filmed here.
The Roughlock Falls Rd. becomes gravel so be careful! The Canyon winds up to Cheyenne Crossing at 85 Hwy. The Cheyenne Crossing Store is a great place to stop for lunch. It is the site of a stagecoach stop dating back to 1878.
At this point you can go east on 85 back to Deadwood and Sturgis.
However, I prefer going west on 85, part of the Can-am Highway that connects Mexico with Canada. It travels 1,478 miles from El Paso to the Canadian border. It threads through the Black Hills and down into Wyoming where, at Four Corners, you take 585N to Sundance. From there take old Hwy 14 back to Spearfish.
Directions – Take 14a south out of Spearfish, 85 w to Four Corners, 585 n to Sundance, Old Hwy 14 back to Spearfish.
Ride Tip – Do not miss – Bridal Veil Falls, Roughlock Falls, and Cheyenne Crossing Store.
A Beautiful ride highlighting some of the best riding in the Black Hills.
Dead Presidents, Crazy Horse, amazing scenery, wildlife, and wild roads make this a ride to remember.
To get started, take 385 S. out of Deadwood. You will cruise past some great scenery and many small towns.
During Sturgis week, they all have something going on to make sure you stop and soak it all in.
385 will take you past Pactula Reservoir, a beautiful lake and great place for a pit stop. Continue on 385 past 244 to 87 south, you are now on Needles Highway.
So far a great ride, but the real fun is just beginning. The road twists and climbs as you pass beautiful Sylvan Lake. Up ahead lies the granite cathedral spires of the Needles, nature’s art gallery.
Take your time here, the road is narrow as you pass through the Eye of the Needle. Make sure to stop for some great views and photo ops.
Continue on 87 as it descends down towards Custer. Turn on Playhouse road, stay on till you hit 16A and turn left. You are now on Iron Mountain Road, a beautiful test of your riding skills, as you face hundreds of curves, switchbacks, pigtails, and one lane tunnels, all while rising and descending 2,000 ft.
The tunnels are positioned in a way that they frame Mt Rushmore, for an unforgettable view of the monument. Make your way down Iron Mountain and go left on 244, this will lead you to Mount Rushmore.
There are numerous places to stop for great views and pictures. Many riders stop there and get all the pictures they want, however, you can still go into the park for a closer look.
After soaking in the dead presidents, you stay on 244 till it runs back into 385. Go south on 385 for a look at another monument in the making, The Crazy Horse Memorial.
Work started in 1948 by Korczak Ziolkowski, and is continuing to this day. When it is finished it will be the largest stone carving in the world, and will depict Chief Crazy Horse on his steed pointing into the distance. Again, you can drive up the entrance to get some good pictures, before you have to enter the site itself. After you are finished go north on 385 back to Deadwood.
Directions – Take 385 s out of Deadwood, take 87 to Playhouse Rd and turn left, turn left on 16A, go left on 244, turn left on 385 to Crazy Horse, go north on 385 back to Deadwood.
Have a close encounter with a really cool ride. As you cruise from South Dakota and into Wyoming, you will pass wide open spaces dotted with small historic towns, rolling hills, and grand rock formations.
After you enter Wyoming, look for the Stone House Saloon, this old rock building is only open during Sturgis week. A great place to stop and grab a drink and listen to some good live music. You can’t miss it. It is a great spot to check out.
As you continue west you will pass several small towns, make sure to stop in Hulett for No Panties Wednesday.
Next stop, Devils Tower National Monument. This is America’s first National monument and is featured in sci-fi movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. At 1,265 ft high, it attracts many visitors and rock climbers.
Take one of the trails to the base to watch these guys defy gravity. On your way back make sure to stop in Sundance, Wyoming. Its jail once held the Sundance Kid, one half of the notorious outlaw duo depicted in the movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
It is also known for Burn Out Wednesday, one of the best burnout shows you’ll see, and it only happens during the Sturgis Rally.
Directions – Take 85n out of Spearfish to 34w ( Changes to 24w at state line). Take 14s to Sundance. Stay on old 14e back to Spearfish.
Ride Tip – Do Not Miss – Stone House Saloon, Hulett and No Pantie Wednesday, Devils Tower, Sundance, and Burnout Wednesday
This ride will take you through a landscape that is truly out of this world.
If you did not know any better, you might think you were riding on the face of the moon.
To get there, start at the Black Hills Harley Davidson in Rapid City, a great place to visit during Sturgis week.
Take 44 east towards the town of Scenic, make sure to drive through and check out the jail and saloon ( Closed ) that date back to 1906.
Get back on 44 and head east to the Badlands.
As you pass through Interior get on 377, which will lead you to the entrance of Badlands National Park, run into 244 and go left.
This will lead you through some of the strangest terrain you will ever ride.
The barren peaks seem to appear out of the nowhere and offer some great riding and unforgettable scenery. The road will lead you out of the park and into the town of Wall.
Make sure you drive through Main Street and stop in at Wall Drug, all it’s been there since 1934, and became popular by offering free Ice water to travelers who were passing by.
After checking out Wall, jump onto I-90 for your return to Rapid City or continue on to Sturgis.
Sturgis week is not just for the town of Sturgis. Just about every town within 100 miles is joining the annual motorcycle celebration.
The roads will be filled with riders ready to soak in the sights and sounds of the rally.
So jump on your bike, throttle up, and follow in the footsteps of General Custer and Crazy Horse through the Black Hills and have your own close encounter with the Sturgis Experience.