The Complete Sturgis Rally Guide: Everything You Need To Know About The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
There’s nothing in the world like the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Our rides, concerts, and events are as notorious as they are famous. You’ve heard stories of horned men, buffalo hide bikes, and bartenders on stilts pouring drinks down people’s throats. You’ve seen iconic Sturgis Motorcycle Rally celebrations on T.V.: Travel Channel, Discovery Channel, and every news channel known to man. Maybe you’ve been to the Sturgis Rally and ridden past Mount Rushmore, through the Needle’s Eye, or scraped pegs on the 360-degree Pigtail Bridge turns. You want to experience the Sturgis Rally, and you should.
It’s easy to imagine yourself riding down Main Street, hitting the 84 curves on Iron Mountain Rd through the Black Hills, or drinking a cold one, center stage, at the best concert of your life. But what else should you know about the Sturgis Rally?
Anyone who comes to the Sturgis Rally knows there is no shortage of things to do. In fact, it’s impossible to do All The Things, even if you tried. To ensure you don’t waste your time at the wrong events during this year’s Rally, you need the inside scoop, a trusted Sturgis Rally Guide of must-dos, and you need it now to plan for the Sturgis Rally. Do all the things you truly want to do.
What Is The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally?
If you made it this far in your search, you likely know the Sturgis Rally is an 82-year old gathering of like-minded individuals who share a love for motorcycling and the freedom of the road. The Sturgis Rally started as a race between a few friends. Since then, it has become a ten-day bike rally with rides, bike shows, and concerts unlike anywhere else in the world.
The Sturgis Rally is known for some of the best motorcycle riding in the world, unique concert settings, and crazy events that create smiles from ear to ear. But Sturgis is more than just a series of events. It’s the feeling of outrunning a storm through the Black Hills, enjoying a “we’re not gonna take it” moment at a Buffalo Chip Twisted Sister concert, and gawking at eye-catching hand-built bikes.
The Rally is a state of being. It’s the wind and sun on your face as you ride past Mount Rushmore. It is a laugh with lifelong friends. It is a memory you’ll cherish forever.
When Is The 2022 Sturgis Rally?
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally starts on the first Friday of August every year. The 81st Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is August5 through 14, 2022.
The Sturgis Rally Pre-Party starts on August 1, 2022, at the Buffalo Chip.
Where Is The Sturgis Bike Rally?
The Sturgis Rally takes place in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Multiple promoters organize and promote the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally: Sturgis Buffalo Chip, Lamphere Ranch, Full Throttle Saloon, Glencoe Campresort, Black Hills Harley-Davidson, and the City of Sturgis, to name a few.
Who Owns The Sturgis Rally?
NOBODY OWNS THE STURGIS MOTORCYCLE RALLY. Since day 1, the Sturgis Rally has been by bikers for bikers. Not by the city government, for bikers.
In 2018, the Eighth Circuit Court made that fact clear when they ruled that 100s of private entities have organized the Sturgis Rally over the years.
“We agree and hold that the jury could not infer from the onerous planning that the City undertakes to provide infrastructure for the Rally that the City was the organizer or sponsor of the Rally. To allow such an inference would be tantamount to saying that it would be reasonable to infer that the City of New York organizes the sessions of the United Nations General Assembly because of everything it does to assist their occurrence.”
The court went on to say that an organization cannot establish ownership “simply by getting its officials and agents to say that it is.”
Corporate sponsors paid millions of dollars to the City of Sturgis for the right to use false trademarks over the years. Will sponsors who paid for licensing to use those false trademarks want their money back?
Read the articles explaining the historic ruling here:
When Did The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Start?
A local racing club called the Jackpine Gypsies started the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in 1938. The Jackpine Gypsies Club was founded in 1936 by local Indian dealer Clarence “Pappy” Hoel, who later started the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally as a series of races and stunts. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally originally began as a two-day event called the “Black Hills Motor Classic.” The Jackpine Gypsies continue to host races annually outside of the Sturgis City Limits in Meade County. In 2020, the City of Sturgis attempted an unsuccessful hostile annexation of the Jackpine Gypsies’ property. The Jackpine Gypsies successfully petitioned to bring the forced annexation attempt to vote and won.
Should I Register For The Sturgis Rally Or Just Show Up?
Have you ever shown up to a destination wishing someone was there to tell you about all the best things to see and do? Sure you have! Discovering the best that the Sturgis Rally has to offer can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can begin your Sturgis Rally adventure by connecting with a friendly face, picking up a Welcome Packet, and free Sturgis Rally Ride Pin and Patch at the Sturgis Rally Information Center™! Sometimes all you need to help make your trip frustration-free is the opportunity to ask someone for a recommendation on what to do and see. Check out the Sturgis.com Official Sturgis Rally Registration. You’ll be glad you did.
Where To Stay In Sturgis During The Motorcycle Rally?
Where you should stay during the Sturgis Rally depends on you. If you want the traditional authentic Sturgis Rally experience, the best place to stay during the Sturgis Rally would be at a campground like the Sturgis Buffalo Chip. The Buffalo Chip is the original “by bikers for bikers” campground. It opened when the City of Sturgis kicked bikers out of town and is the original destination that brought music and motorcycles together for the Sturgis Rally. It has grown to be a world-class entertainment venue with top concert performances from bands like Kid Rock, ZZ Top, and Shinedown. In addition to camping, they have R.V. Camping, Cabin Rentals, Suites, Tipi Rentals and all the amenities of a town.
Other area venues that offer camping and accommodations include Shade Valley, Kickstands, Drag Pipe Saloon, Iron Horse Campground, Glencoe Campresort, Steel Pony Campground, Hog Heaven, Lamphere, and more.
What Should I Wear At The Sturgis Bike Rally?
When you come to Sturgis, you’ll want to wear appropriate gear and clothing. Here are a couple of tips on what to wear to the Sturgis Rally:
- Pack minimally and plan to pick up new apparel and gear when you arrive at the rally. Two pairs of pants, two shirts, and one week’s worth of underwear should hold you over and leave room for those souvenir shirts to wear while you’re here.
- Protective leathers – This is self-explanatory
- Warm Clothes. Believe it or not, rides like Spearfish Canyon can catch the summer rider by surprise when the sun leaves its peak and shadows envelope the canyon. Spearfish is known to have set a record for the largest change in temperature in 24 hours.
- Rain gear. Summer storms can make riding through the Black Hills a fun game of cat and mouse as you try to outrun and outsmart the storms on your radar. But eventually, a storm will win, and you’ll find yourself needing a good set of rain gear to keep from getting drenched. Don’t leave home without them.
- Helmet. South Dakota Doesn’t have a helmet requirement law for adults. However, neighboring states do. Check to see if your route passes through states with helmet laws on your way to S.D.
Why Go To The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally?
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is known for having some of the best rides in the world. The Blacks Hills are stuffed full of fun winding turns, unique eats scattered throughout quaint little towns, and Native American and U.S. Calvary historical sights. Riders enjoy monuments like Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial, granite spires of the Needle’s eye, and crystal-clear high mountain lakes, reservoirs, and waterfalls. In addition, there are tons of Sturgis Rally Campgrounds with their styles. Some offer accommodations with picturesque views like Bear Butte, Military Tributes like the field of 800 flags to see, and live music to lead you into each night’s sleep. If you’re looking for a truly unique experience, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is one way to check off all the boxes.
What To Expect At The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally?
If this is your first time at the Sturgis Rally, you’re in for a few eye-opening treats. First of all, you should know that you’ll meet the nicest people at the Sturgis Rally. The South Dakota community welcomes bikers into its yard to play, and they do it with that Midwest hospitality and smile. Those smiles and the good times bring out more smiles and good times from the people visiting. You can expect to find various vendors, a massive selection of live concerts, demo ride opportunities, and bikes lined up and down main street in Sturgis, SD. Towns like Sturgis block off sections of Main Street to motorcycles only. It feels like you’re at the world’s largest bike show. Which, you are!
Some people mistakenly think it is only a big party. You can party, but you can also live a tame life if that is more your style. Wake up early, go for a beautiful ride in the day, stroll through the Black Hills area sites, visit vendors, see the races and bike shows, have dinner at a winery in Hill City or a Brewhouse, check out the Saloon where Wild Bill Hickock got shot, then tuck yourself in to do something like it again the next morning. There are more than enough activities at the Sturgis Rally to fill your itinerary for ten days.
Is The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Family Friendly?
Generally speaking, the Sturgis Rally is not Family Friendly. But it is adult-friendly.
How Many People Are At The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally?
Traffic counts by the DOT estimate around 500,000 people go to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally each year.
Where Is The Best Sturgis Rally Camping?
As mentioned above, if you want the traditional authentic experience, arguably the best Sturgis Rally Camping is at the Legendary Sturgis Buffalo Chip. When the City of Sturgis kicked bikers out of town, the Buffalo Chip was there to give bikers a home. A giant Welcome Home Bikers sign even adorns the entrance to its property. The Buffalo Chip is the original By Bikers For Bikers® destination that first brought music and motorcycles together during the Sturgis Rally. It has grown to be a complete entertainment, camping and festival venue with top concert performances from bands like… https://sturgis.com/concerts.
How Much Does Sturgis Cost?
There are some excellent sources on Sturgis’s costs and ways to save money planning for Sturgis.
#1 – One tip to save money is to reserve early. Many campgrounds have very low prices that increase as the Sturgis Rally approaches. The Buffalo Chip prides itself on the fact that if you buy the extended rally pass when they first go on sale, it works out to be only about $20 a day for world-class concerts, camping, and other entertainment. You can’t find a deal that good at any other festival.
#2 – A money-saving tip to reduce how much Sturgis will cost is to be sure to fuel up at the Free Fuel Happy Hours by Renewable Fuels.
Want to see more tips on how to save money? Visit How to Get the Most Bang For Your Buck during Sturgis.
What Are The Best Biker Bars In Sturgis?
One of the most popular biker bars in Sturgis is the Knuckle Saloon. The Knuckle is also a local brewhouse. Other popular biker bars include One Eye-Jacks, the Iron Horse Saloon, and the Loud American Roadhouse.
Sturgis Rally Must-Dos AKA What Are the Best Things To See And Do In Sturgis?
Here are must-do staple activities and events that everyone who visits the Sturgis Rally should do.
- See live music
- Ride through the Black Hills on a guided group ride or your own
- Go to a bike show
- Go to a race
- Visit Downtown Sturgis Main Street
- Pick up your free Sturgis Rally ride pin and patch
Other Sturgis Must Do Highlights
Other fun things to do during Sturgis include:
Visit out-of-the-way hidden gems
Ride through Custer State Park and see the Buffalo
The Sturgis Rally Guide
Sturgis.com is the best Sturgis Rally Guide. It provides all you need to know about the events, vending, concerts. If you ever rode through the Black Hills, or you plan to, you can even peruse the photo library to find an image of you riding!
What Should I Pack To Bring To The Sturgis Rally?
Here’s a list of essential items that would be good to bring:
- Rain Suit
- Sanitizer wipes
- Helmet (if you are passing through a helmet law state)
How To Ship Your Bike To Sturgis
If you are flying in, or you just need to ship your bike for whatever reason, here are motorcycle transport services that can help https://haulbikes.com/
What Are The Best Rides To Do During Sturgis?
There are many great roads to ride during Sturgis. But the best and most famous rides during Sturgis to take are:
- Mount Rushmore – A visit to America’s Shrine of Democracy is on most visitors’ bucket lists. You don’t have to go into Mt. Rushmore National Memorial to see the sculpture from route 24
- Iron Mountain Road – includes three granite rock tunnels to pass through. You’ll also travel over three pigtail bridges, which are corkscrew structures engineered to curl and pass over themselves for a challenging ride and an upper body workout.
- Needles HWY – A beautiful ride through granite spires and high mountain lakes.
- Spearfish Canyon – It’s one ride you must take before you die. The quintessential scenic road adorned with cliffs cut through the gorge, bubbling streams, waterfalls, and striking vistas at every turn.
- Devils Tower – You won’t regret taking the trip to visit this Close Encounters of a Third Kind lava cone.
- Badlands – Riders that don’t take the time to see the Badlands are making a mistake. Put this on your to do list.
- Legends Ride – Scenic ride through the beautiful Black Hills alongside celebrities and hundreds of fellow Legends Riders.
What Bands are playing at Sturgis?
Bands are announced all year long. Some of the biggest bands in music will play at Sturgis. Subscribe to the sturgis.com newsletter to get updates first. Some examples of the biggest Sturgis Rally Concerts announced in 2021 included:
- Kid Rock,
- Z.Z. Top,
- Stone Temple Pilots,
- Black Label Society,
- Black Stone Cherry
See the full Sturgis Rally Concert and Event Schedule at the Sturgis Rally Website.
Is Sturgis Canceled?
The Sturgis Rally was not canceled in 2020, or in 2021 either. For one reason, nobody owns the Sturgis Rally. You can’t cancel what you don’t own. In 2020, businesses and promoters like the Sturgis Buffalo Chip, Full Throttle Saloon, Shade Valley, and over 50 local businesses said they would have the Sturgis Rally even if the City of Sturgis chose not to support it. The Sturgis Rally is on.
Where Can I Get Full Experience Sturgis Rally Reservation Packages?
If you’re looking to make things easy on yourself and get the best of the best Sturgis Rally activities laid out for you, the Sturgis Rally Experience Packages are the way to go. One purchase dishes you up a savory platter of assorted experiences that ensure you don’t miss a beat during your Sturgis Experience. Each package includes:
- Museum passes
- Welcome Packet
- Meet and Greets
- Pins and patches
Where Can I Get The Best Sturgis Rally News?
Avoid getting your news from the rumorville, and get your Sturgis Rally News directly from the source. Sturgis.com doesn’t shy away from controversy or tell you half-truths that others want you to believe.
What Days Should I Come to the Sturgis Rally?
What days you should come to the Sturgis Rally depends on many things. The Sturgis Rally attendance is a bell curve with the biggest spike in rally attendance on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
If you can, come to the Sturgis Rally for the entire ten days and experience it all. Go for rides at the beginning of the week before you get worn out and the bigger crowds clog up the roads. The Buffalo Chip Official Sturgis Rally Kickoff kickstarts the rally on the first Friday.The rally ramps up through the middle of the week, and then wind down to the Rally Wrap party before everyone rides back home.
If you can only come for one weekend, the first week Sturgis Rally Concerts usually have some outstanding concerts.
If you can only come for a few days and want to experience the Rally in all its glory, come on Monday through Wednesday.
Where can I get more information about the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally?
The original and official Sturgis.com Sturgis Rally Website is arguably the most comprehensive in-depth resource for the Sturgis Rally.
What are the Future Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Dates?
The Future Sturgis Rally Dates are:
- August 5-14, 2022
- August 4-13, 2023
- August 2-11, 2024
- August 1-10, 2025
Other Sturgis Rally Articles And News You Might Find Helpful
How to Do Sturgis Vol. 1
How to Do Sturgis Vol. 2
How to Do Sturgis Vol. 3
How To Do the Buffalo Chip:
Hidden Gems of the Black Hills
The Essential Packing List