Sturgis Motorcycle Rally: An Overview

During the first full week of August, highways throughout the Rocky Mountain region are chock full of motorcyclists either heading to or returning from Sturgis, South Dakota where the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is held over the course of ten days.

The official site for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is, and 2017 is its 77th year. (Gas rationing in 1942 caused a cancellation of the rally.) The first rally featured only Indian-brand motorcyclists, and was called the “Black Hills Classic.”

Official 77th Sturgis Motor Cycle Rally logo

Official 77th Sturgis Motor Cycle Rally logo

Where is Sturgis, South Dakota?

Sturgis, South Dakota has a year round population of about 7,000 people. During the 10 days of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, that balloons up to about 300,000 or more in hotels, motels and camping around the city and surrounding cities.

Sturgis, founded in 1878, was named after General Samuel D. Sturgis, a Union general during the American Civil War who actually did not cover himself with glory during the war, although he commanded troops during the battle of Antietam and Fredericksburg.

Sturgis is situated on I-90 in northwest South Dakota. It is 28 miles north of Rapid City and 27 miles east of Deadwood (on US-14) – where some of the Rally events take place.

For motorcyclists coming from the south, a favorite route is to take I-25 to Highway 85, and Highway 85 up through Cheyenne, past Torrington, Lusk, and on up to Sturgis.

Motorcyclists in Lusk, Wyoming, coming or going from Sturgis!

Motorcyclists in Lusk, Wyoming, coming or going from Sturgis!

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

What goes on at a Sturgis Motorcycle Rally?

Let’s take the 2017 rally for example.

August 4, there was the Pappy Hoel Speed Classic at the Meade County Fairgrounds, a parade at the Fairgrounds, and the 77th Sturgis Rally Opening Ceremony. There were also plenty of musical performances throughout the day, such as those at the Buffalo Chip: Charlie Brechtel Band, Trapt, Drowning Pool and the Dirtboxwailers. (There were also musical performers at the Rally Point, Iron Horse Saloon, Loud American Roadhouse, and Saloon Number 10.

The Buffalo Chip is a musical venue some three miles east of Sturgis and has 8 music stages, and cabins and RV parking spots. Check it out at They present the “largest music festival in motorcycling.”

On all subsequent days of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, a Street Food Throwdown starts at eleven am and continues until noon. Again there’s musical performances throughout the day at bars and saloons.

Sunday, August 6, there was The Good Ride with Carey Hart, a motorcycle ride for charity. On Monday, August 7, the Spirit of Sturgis Vintage Festival began.

On Tuesday, August 8, there was a B-1 Flyover, a tattoo contest, and the Mayors Pub Crawl, as well as all those musical performances.

On Wednesday August 9, there was the Legendary Sturgis 5K, the Discovery Ride, a Hall of Fame Breakfast, and a Beard and Moustache contest. The 78th Anniversary Logo was also unveiled.

78th Anniversary logo of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally - taking place in 2018

78th Anniversary logo of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally – taking place in 2018

Thursday August 10, just lots of music at various venues.

Friday, August 11 – lots of music.

Saturday, August 12. There’s a drawing for a police bike giveaway.

Sunday, August 13, the rally winds down with only two musical performances scheduled. Yancey at the Buffalo Bodega in Deadwood, and The Cowardly Lions at Saloon No. 10 in Deadwood.

Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame

The Sturgis Museum is located at 999 Main Street in Sturgis.


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