Sturgis is the undisputed king of all motorcycle rallies in the United States. Every year, this monster-size rally is held in the South Dakota town of the same name during the first full week of August. The population of Sturgis, which is approximately 6,000, typically swells to between 400,000 and 600,000 during the period of the rally.
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally traces its beginning to August 14, 1938 when the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club held its Black Hills Classic, a two-day rally that featured racing and motorcycle stunts. The main founder of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is considered by many to be Clarence “Pappy” Hoel. Since 1938, the rally has been held every year, except for 1942, when it was cancelled due to World War II gas rationing.
This monstrous rally features a number of rides -- including the Wounded Knee Memorial Motorcycle Run, which is held to honor the memory of the Lakota Native Americans who were killed in 1890 at Wounded Knee – lots of live musical acts, races, exhibits, bike-building contests, and tons of vendor booths. The Sturgis rally is so popular that both Harley-Davidson and Victory choose this event to introduce their new motorcycle models.
Motorcyclists will find a number of dining and drinking options in Sturgis during the rally. One of the most famous is the Knuckle Saloon and Grill, which is located in downtown Sturgis. This restaurant also features an onsite museum where riders can see Sturgis memorabilia.
Because Sturgis draws so many bikers from across the nation, many neighboring towns in the Black Hills also hold events to entice bikers, including little Hulett’s Ham ‘n’ Jam, which is held on the Wednesday of the rally. The town of Custer, South Dakota also holds a rally during this same period of time. While out and about, bikers might also want to visit some of South Dakota's many interesting sites, including the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills, and Wyoming's Devils Tower.
Bikers have numerous lodging choices during Sturgis including cabins, hotels, private home rentals, and camping grounds. At one time, many people camped in Sturgis’s City Park, but after it was closed in 1983, a number of camping grounds opened on the outskirts of town. Arguably, the most famous place to set up a tent is the Buffalo Chip Campground, which offers its guests lots of live entertainment, including big-name musical acts, rides, and lots of biker contests.
Although, a large majority of the motorcycles at the Sturgis Rally are Hogs, some people do arrive to the event on other makes of bikes and generally, the Harley riders are welcoming to all.