With its prime location in a valley at the entrance of the Northern Black Hills, Sturgis—the county seat of Meade County, South Dakota—once marketed itself as “The Key City to the Black Hills.” Today it’s known as the “City of Riders” in tribute to the town’s annual motorcycle, Mustang, and Camaro rallies, as well as its past providing goods and services to the cavalry and infantrymen stationed at Fort Meade. The rumbling of two-piston engines isn’t the only draw in Sturgis.
Restaurants and saloons line Main Street in Sturgis, spilling over into the adjacent downtown core. The Knuckle Saloon and Brewing Company is a cavernous entertainment venue that offers concerts, bar bull riding, craft beer brewed onsite, and food choices ranging from flat bread pizza to juicy half-pound burgers. Equally popular is the Loud American Roadhouse, renowned for their live music and “legendary” steak tips. If wine is more your style, Belle Joli’ Winery Sparkling House features a variety of South Dakota traditional and sparkling wines, which can be enjoyed on a scenic outdoor patio. Weimer’s Diner and Donuts excels in comfort food and, of course, donuts. There is often a crowd lined up early to snag a maple bar or other sugary treat.
If motorcycles are your thing, you won’t want to miss the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame. Dedicated to preserving the history of motorcycling and honoring individuals who have made an impact on the sport and lifestyle, the museum offers interactive displays, an extensive collection of classic motorcycles and memorabilia dating back to 1905, and a visitor’s lounge that plays motorcycle-inspired movies. Located just east of town, the Old Fort Meade Museum provides a glimpse into the history of Fort Meade, established by the 7th Cavalry in 1878 to provide military protection against the Lakota Sioux following the discovery of gold in the Black Hills. Set on the grounds of the Veterans Administration Hospital, the museum houses a collection of historical artifacts and exhibits dating back to its period as an active military installation, which lasted until 1944. The nearby Black Hills National Cemetery is a 105.9-acre cemetery administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. More than 20,000 graves mark the final resting place for many notable military and government figures, some dating back to the Indian Wars.
Rising 1,253 feet above the surrounding plains six miles northeast of Sturgis, Bear Butte is a geological formation considered sacred by many Native American tribes. Visitors will find colorful bundles of cloth tied to trees around the mountain; these prayer ties, usually filled with tobacco, are offerings to the Great Spirit for blessings, healing, and giving thanks, and should never be disturbed. There are plenty of recreational opportunities within Bear Butte State Park, including hiking, fishing, camping, and horseback riding. Intrepid adventurers who trek to the summit are rewarded with views of four states: Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
For 10 days every August, the population of Sturgis swells from approximately 6,700 to 500,000 as visitors from all over the U.S. descend upon the town for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, making it temporarily the state’s most populous city. The Rally, which dates back to 1938, is the premier motorcycle festival in the country and one of the largest in the world. It offers everything from motorcycle rides and races to high-octane concerts from some of the music industry’s most popular artists. Increasingly, non-riders are turning out, as well. Even if you’ve never hopped onto a Harley, the Rally is a mesmerizing experience you’ll long remember.
The Sturgis Camaro Rally and Sturgis Mustang Rally provide opportunities for non-bikers to celebrate the joys of riding. Both events are open to participants and spectators of all ages. The Camaro Rally, held each June, allows Camaro owners to show off their vehicles and features events such as drag racing, auto cross, poker runs, a car show and shine, and more. The Mustang Rally is a week-long event in September that offers autocross, drag racing, barrel racing, rodeo, scenic cruises, a car show and shine, parade, fun runs, poker runs, and a BFGoodrich Driving Class.
Not all Sturgis events require wheels. The Sturgis Chamber of Commerce sponsors an annual Volksmarch every June, providing hikers with an opportunity to participate in either a 5K or 10K event. The route changes every year, providing attendees with a unique experience each time.
Music on Main is a popular summer concert series held every Wednesday evening during June and July. People of all ages gather at Harley-Davidson Rally Point for entertainment, food, games and activities, and mountain bike races.
Oktoberfest, traditionally held in September, offers a stein crawl, brats and hot dogs, and games and activities such as keg bowling, corn hole, and keg races.
Fun isn’t reserved for the warmest months of the year. The Sturgis Frostathlon, held in March, consists of three traditional triathlon events: running, bicycling, and swimming. The long course and relay includes a 5K run, 10.5-mile mountain bike race, and 500-yard swim. A short course, perfect for younger participants, features a 1.5-mile trail run, 5K mountain bike ride, and 100-yard swim.
Note: During the COVID-19 pandemic, certain events may be postponed or canceled, and attractions may not be open as regularly scheduled. We encourage you to check with each venue before planning your visit.