Have you ever heard of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally? Motorcycle enthusiasts the world over have flocked to this annual summer event in the Black Hills of South Dakota for the past 80 years.
Sound interesting? Want to learn more? You're in luck. We'll give you an overview of how this worldwide rally started, and we'll explore some of the things to do in and around Sturgis.
Whenever you're ready to hop on a bike – or get behind the wheel of a V8 muscle car – we'll be ready to hit the road with you.
How did the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally get started?
To explore the origins of this famous event, you need to travel back in time with us all the way to 1936.
According to the rally's official website, that was the year a man named Clarence Hoel, known to many as Pappy, bought a local motorcycle franchise in Sturgis and launched a club for riders. The rally began in earnest two years later, when Pappy launched a small race for nine riders. The race was known as the Black Hills Classic, and with it, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was born in 1938.
The rally went on hiatus for a couple of years during World War II, but it soon returned. By 1949, it started to gain a greater presence in the town of Sturgis. That was the first year that Main Street was taken over for the rally's award ceremony.
The annual event expanded during the 1960s, adding new races and additional events. By 1975, it had grown into a week-long destination event.
In 1979, the city started licencing vendors. As the rally expanded through the '80s and '90s, the city council might have decided that they needed some extra help keeping up with the rally, because they established a separate department dedicated solely to managing the annual event in 2002.
Now the event lasts for 10 action-packed days.
What events take place at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally?
First and foremost, of course, the rally is a motorcycle lover's dream, but there's so much to see and do in Sturgis that nobody could feel bored. Whether you arrive on the back of a bike or behind the wheel of a car, you can't go wrong.
Drag races are definitely a big draw. Other events at the famous motorcycle rally also include a 5K run and a concert series that boasts big headliners, including heavyweights from classic and contemporary rock, metal, country and western. Throughout the city, venues range from small saloons to big stages.
And don't forget, this is a motorcycle rally in the Black Hills. That means there are lots of scenic journeys in the area for bikers and drivers alike.
Across Sturgis, there's no shortage of vendors to visit or restaurants to experience. Sample some of the local concoctions at a brewery or winery, too. If you're feeling lucky, there's even a poker tournament.
What's there to do near Sturgis?
Remember those scenic trips we mentioned earlier? They're some of our favourite things about the motorcycle rally. Accessible trips located close to the action at the rally include circular routes near the iconic Devil's Tower and Bear Butte. Annually, the mayor of Sturgis leads a motorcycle ride through the Black Hills that stops at Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park.
Rally participants at Sturgis often camp or stay at hotels. After the end of a long day on their motorcycles, you'll find them kicking back at a saloon in the city or nearby towns.
No matter where you travel during the rally, there's no shortage of camaraderie among motorcycle riders and other visitors who are there to enjoy the scenery, the spirit and the energy of this world-renowned rally.
What's it like to visit the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally with Route 66 Tours, and what's happening this year?
Sadly, as you may have expected, travel restrictions related to the outbreak of COVID-19 have forced us to postpone our 2020 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally tour, and presently, our 2021 tour is actually sold out. However, you can get on the waiting list for 2021 or start thinking ahead to 2022.
Our tour lasts 22 nights, and you can travel with us by either bike or car. We start and end the journey in Las Vegas. To get to the city of Sturgis, we travel along the Beartooth Highway, through Bighorn National Forest and across the Million Dollar Highway, as well as to the top of Pikes Peak.
In South Dakota, we stay near the rally in a small town called Deadwood, spending our nights in comfortable, quality lodgings. As a bonus, Deadwood is home to the Sturgis Hall of Fame.
Our fully guided tours do not involve camping. With us, you don't have to worry about setting up a tent after a long day of riding or driving. You get to unwind and wake up rested and ready for your next day on the road. If you're interested in getting on the waiting list for next year's Sturgis tour, reach out to us today.