Get your motor running! We’re closing in on the 81st Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and it’s sure to be a good time for all in the motorcycle Mecca of the West. As you tune up your engines and start your checklist for your pilgrimage to western South Dakota, take a look at this blog of everything you need to prepare for the 81st Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
WHAT TO EXPECT
For all newcomers and non-bikers, the Black Hills and Badlands are a veritable paradise of motorcycle riding that brings in thousands of bike enthusiasts every year for the world famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Rides like Iron Mountain Road, Needles Highway, the Badlands Loop and Vanocker Canyon are rites of passage for many bikers across the globe. Expect to see tons of bikes on the road during the Rally—be prepared to drive slower, give bikes plenty of space (remember, a bike will need more room to stop in an emergency) and check your blind spots carefully, particularly along popular driving routes.
Most of all, keep an open mind and prepare for a good time! There will be visitors from all walks of life, a variety of concerts, incredible motorcycles, tasty food and great fun across the entire region.
There’s always a concert happening during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and whether you’re looking for big name shows or smaller main street gigs, you’re sure to find it in the Black Hills and Badlands.
Drop by spots like the Knuckle Saloon, Iron Horse Saloon, Full Throttle Saloon, Rally Point and Loud American Roadhouse in Sturgis for free concerts daily.
Looking for free concerts in other places? Take a look at our events calendar for concerts happening throughout the region.
Just outside of Sturgis City limits, the Sturgis Buffalo Chip also hosts free entertainment daily at the Big Engine Bar and CrossRoads. Their free bands in 2021 include Thunderosa and BC & The Big Rig. You can also catch their big name acts like Kid Rock, REO Speedwagon and ZZ Top every evening on the Wolfman Jack Stage.
There are plenty of thrilling events all across Sturgis and the Black Hills and Badlands to keep the party going all Rally long. Tour the various bike shows or enter your bike and show it off, join a poker run, take a group ride, watch a race or just watch the traffic go by.
For inspiration, take a look at our Sturgis Motorcycle Rally page to see an extensive list of Rally events.
There’s more than a few reasons why the Black Hills and Badlands are a motorcyclist’s dream. With dramatically curvy roads, craggy badlands, sweeping views of granite peaks and an expansive forest, some of the most impressive scenery in the West for motorcycle riders is right here. The routes range anywhere from easy to challenging, so it’s rider’s choice. Take a look at our Motorcycle Map of the region to start planning.
In addition to touring the area on your own, consider joining one of the group rides and experience the best of the region with the best riders. Cruise the Hills with a local, Aug. 6, 10 & 13 to see the lesser known parts of the Black Hills and Badlands and experience every hidden dip and curve. Early birds can take the Director’s Ride Aug. 4, or wait later in the week for the Mayor’s Ride on Aug. 7 and the Legends Ride Aug. 9.
Make sure to stop in at the Black Hills Visitor Information Center at Exit 61 on I90 to pick up maps, motorcycle maps, vacation guides on everything there is to do and see, and information from the knowledgeable guides.
WHAT TO BRING
Weather in the Black Hills and Badlands can be unpredictable, especially in August. While one day may be sunny and blistering hot, the next may bring chilly showers. Even in the matter of a few hours, the Black Hills can see large thunderstorms, as recent months have proven. Having a change of clothes or wearing layers for inclement weather is recommended. Remember: traffic lines can get especially long and hot! Bring raingear, potable water and sunscreen, especially for long rides and tours in the Badlands area.
AFTER THE RALLY
As the Rally turns down and we once again inch closer and closer to autumn, it’s still the perfect time to be out on a motorcycle, riding the Black Hills and Badlands. You can expect traffic to slow down, the weather to become gradually cooler with the shorter days, and the region to be as beautiful as ever. In short, though the concerts and vendors pack up, the fall transition makes the perfect time to get out and ride in western South Dakota. If you’re aiming to miss the crowds and you’re more interested in the Black Hills riding experience, this is the time of year for you. Additionally, the fall season is packed full of iconic, must see events, so be sure to stick around, take a few cruises, see a few sights and join in the local fun.
Whether you join in on the Sturgis fun or visit the region afterwards, the Black Hills and Badlands riding experience will always stay the same—unparalleled.