This year marks the 82nd Black Hills Motorcycle Classic, but we just call it Sturgis. Most riders will never make it to this rally, and for some it’s a bucket list event. For those that have experienced it, the Black Hills will always hold a special place in your mind.
Rally week is plenty of time to see best locations and ride the top roads. Staying in Sturgis puts you in the middle of everything. It all depends on what direction you decide to ride each day. You can jump on the interstate and ride East to Rapid City then head out to Mt. Rushmore. Or take I-90 west to visit Devils Tower. But the best way to see this part of SD is to take the back roads through the Black Hills.
The top rally destinations are Crazy Horse, Custer State Park, Iron MT Road, Mt. Rushmore, Deadwood, Keystone, and Spearfish Canyon.
If you are only spending two days in Sturgis and want to get the best “bang for your buck” this is our recommendation.
(This is a full day ride so be ready to hit the road early and take all of your gear).
Day 1 Take Vanocker Canyon Rd south to Nemo, turn right on Norris Peak, then right on 44, and then left on 385, stop at Three Forks country store, fill up and get snacks.
This puts you just north of the big three, Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and Custer.
Take a left and follow the signs to Keystone - Rushmore. Take some time to see the monument or pull over on the side of the hill and grab a quick pic (that’s what we do).
Your next stop is to enter Custer State Park. Take 16a Iron Mtn Road to S. Playhouse then right on Needles Hwy. These are the best of the best as far as scenic motorcycle roads are judged. Please know that these roads can be dangerous. You may have years or riding experience under your belt but be ready to handle your bike in corners and switchbacks.
When you finish Needles Hwy, you are only a few miles from Crazy Horse. For reference. all four presidents at Mount Rushmore fit inside the space behind Crazy Horse’s head. This monument needs to be seen in person and we recommend going inside the gates and taking the bus ride to the base of the mountain.
If the big monuments aren’t your thing and you really want to see the wildlife inside of Custer State Park, pull over at any ranger station and ask what field the buffalo are located in that day. (take the Wildlife Loop Road) Please remember buffalo are wild animals, follow the Rangers directions, keep riding, and do not get off your bike.
This is a lot of riding for one day, but it can be done. As long as you keep moving you will make it back to Sturgis before dark. If you find yourself in the canyons at night go slow and give some space in between other riders.
Day 2 we recommend a shorter loop by visiting Deadwood, Cheyenne Crossing, and taking Spearfish Canyon back to I-90. Deadwood is rich in history and a great place to hang out, shop, and get some food. Note: Cheyenne Crossing has the best Indian tacos in the area.
During rally week we have seen temperatures change 30° in a matter of hours. The Black Hills are no stranger to severe storms including hail and flash floods. This is why it’s important to pack your rain gear every day and have your gear within reach for emergencies.
Cell phone signals are hard to come by in the Black Hills so when you stop in towns or gas stations take a look at your weather apps to make sure you are staying ahead of the game.
We hope everyone has a safe journey to SD. If you are attending the rally, come ride with us on August 11 for a group ride across Spearfish Canyon. We will be filming our new ads and videos. Bring your FMCo vest or jacket.
Everyone wants to get that perfect riding shot during bike week. When you see a photographer stop and introduce yourself, chances are they just got a great pic of you riding.
black and white BANNER PHOTO by @noxboxphotography Rod Olson
Blog images shot on film by FMCo Staff.