Sturgis Virgin Bucket List | 16 Things You Shouldn’t Miss on Your First Rally Trip

Source: Google Maps | Used with permission

If you’re planning your first trip to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, you’re in the right place.

Sturgis is an iconic place, and the rally is the ultimate bucket list event for motorcycle enthusiasts.

Before your first rally visit, you may not realize that going to ‘Sturgis’ consists of a lot more than visiting the city limits of Sturgis, South Dakota.

When we were planning our first rally trip, we had no idea where to begin.

We knew we were going to ‘Sturgis’ but didn’t realize exactly how big STURGIS was when it came to planning rides and making sure we didn’t miss anything important.


Downtown Deadwood

While the city of Sturgis is the heart of the motorcycle rally, the true soul of the rally spreads out hundreds of miles across the entire Black Hills region.

You’ll find riders on every road in the hills – and many also venture up to southern Montana for rally events.

There are hundreds of options to keep you busy during the rally.

Sturgis holds something for everyone – from the person who wants to party 24/7 to the rider who wants to put in a few hundred scenic miles on the bike every day.

No matter how you hope to spend your rally experience, there are a few things that every first-time rally-goer needs to check off their bucket list.

Here are the top 16 places you need to see during your first rally:


The Rides

Iron Mountain Road

We consider Iron Mountain Road one of the BEST roads to ride in the country.

There are more scenic roads out there, but this one’s just plain fun.

This 17-mile ride is known for its curves (314!), 14 switchbacks, 3 tunnels, 3 pigtails, and 2 splits.

If you’re a new rider, it’s best to ease into this road later – but for the veterans, it’s one of the best technical rides in the hills.

Iron Mountain Road Ride Details with Map: Route 16A, Custer State Park


Needles Highway

Needles Highway is a one-of-a-kind road – another must during a visit to South Dakota.

During this ride you’ll be taken through magnificent granite rock formations known as spires.

There are two tunnels cutting through the spires, the most famous being the narrow 9-foot Needle’s Eye tunnel.

Needles is a ride full of breath-taking scenery, and shouldn’t be missed.

Needles Highway: Ride Details with Map: Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, Hill City, SD


Wildlife Loop Road

As the name implies, Wildlife Loop Road is the most popular place to check out the wildlife in Custer State Park.

The wildlife loop is an 18-mile ride through open grasslands and wooded hills.

Allow yourself an hour or two to make your way through this area, since the location of the buffalo herds will dictate the speed at which you can complete the loop.

Be smart, be safe – and remember – don’t pet the fluffy cows.

Wildlife Loop Road Ride Map: Custer State Park

Spearfish Canyon

This ride provides a gorgeous, winding, wooded ride through the high walls of Spearfish Canyon Highway.

Many people consider this area to be one of the most beautiful areas in the Black Hills, especially if you’re looking for a scenic hike or break from the heat.

Riding north to south sets you up nicely to be able to pull in and out of the parking areas to check out one of the waterfalls, hiking trails, or spot some of the mountain goats climbing on the cliffs.

Spearfish Canyon Ride Map: Highway 14A, Spearfish, SD


For more Sturgis rides, check out 10 of the Best Sturgis Motorcycle Rides


The Monuments

Mount Rushmore National Monument

Mount Rushmore is probably the most well-known place in South Dakota.

No matter where you stay during the rally, you’re in a great spot to visit this monument.

Iron Mountain Road is the perfect ride to combine with a visit to Mount Rushmore.

Riding Iron Mountain Road from south to north provides the perfect opportunity to add a Rushmore stop at the end of your ride.

Mount Rushmore: 13000 SD-244, Keystone, SD

Devils Tower National Monument

Devils Tower is located on the outskirts of the Black Hills, but well worth the trip.

There are multiple ride options to get to Devils Tower, and they are all spectacular in their own way.

You can choose to ride north and cross into Montana (Alzada) if visiting that state is on your bucket list.

You can also make a scenic loop visiting other popular Wyoming towns like Aladdin, Sundance, and Hulett.

The monument itself is a site like no other, and for this one the journey to the tower is as much of a must-do as the destination.

Devils Tower Information: WY-110, Devils Tower, WY 82714

Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse Memorial, like Mount Rushmore, is a well-known South Dakota monument.

You have the option to visit the Crazy Horse site to take in a closer look and read about the past, present, and future plans for the sculpture.

However, if you’re under a time constraint in your itinerary, we’d recommend viewing this one from the road and taking an up close look on a later rally trip.

Crazy Horse Information: Crazy Horse, SD 57730

Badlands National Park

While Badlands National Park isn’t technically a monument, it is a national park that you won’t want to miss.

This is another one that should be tabled for later if you’ve only got a few days to spend at the rally.

The Badlands are absolutely amazing and breathtaking, but plan to make this one a full day ride from the Sturgis area.

Between the distance you’ll need to travel, and the intense heat and August sun, a visit to the Badlands (plus a stop at Wall Drug) will easily fill a day.

Badlands Information and Ride Map: Badlands National Park


The Towns

Downtown Sturgis

It wouldn’t be a visit to Sturgis without visiting Sturgis.

Be sure to ride down Main Street, grab a meal or drink, and check out all of the shops and events.

The iconic Sturgis signs are prime photo spots, and you can make history by joining the famous Main Street photo.

It goes without saying that riding through downtown Sturgis is a must for all Sturgis Virgins.

While you’re there, pay homage to the grave site of Pappy Hoel, and where roots of the Sturgis rally began.

Sturgis Information: 83rd Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, 2023

Deadwood

Deadwood, South Dakota is where the Sturgis rally meets the wild west.

Deadwood is a blast from the past, offering rally-goers a chance to step back in time at the saloons, brothels, and hotels from an era gone by.

There are no shortage of cold drinks, people-watching, and historic sites in downtown Deadwood.

Grab a parking spot and spend the day wandering around.

Deadwood Information and Ride Maps: Visit Historic Deadwood

Hill City

Hill City, South Dakota is located in the heart of the Black Hills.

A highlight of any visit to Hill City is a ride on the 1880 Train, a scenic steam train ride that connects Hill City to Keystone.

Be sure to visit Main Street in Hill City for shops, restaurants, and souvenirs before or after your train ride.

Hill City Information: Visit Hill City, SD – Black Hills Vacation Destination

Keystone

Like Hill City, visiting Keystone, South Dakota is a worthwhile stops for all new rally attendees.

Keystone is at the other end of the 1880 Train, making it a convenient part of a day trip to this area of the Black Hills.

Walk the two-story boardwalk between restaurants and shops to get a taste of the old west.

Keystone is easily a town that you can spend a few hours, taking in the sights while taking a break from all of the riding you’ll be doing all week.

Keystone Information: About Keystone | Keystone Chamber of Commerce | Keystone, SD


The Stops

Black Hills Harley Davidson

Visiting Black Hills Harley Davidson during the rally is an event unto itself.

Even if you’re not a Harley rider, make sure you stop by this location to take advantage of the experience.

The parking lot transforms into a sea of motorcycles in front of a gorgeous Black Hills backdrop.

There are dozens of vendors, lots of food options, and a wide selection of bikes and gear for sale.

Black Hills Harley Davidson: 2820 Harley Dr, Rapid City, SD

Aladdin General Store

Aladdin General Store is a must-visit hidden gem during the rally.

There are few places left that allow you to walk into the past, and when you find yourself in a place to experience one for yourself, you must do it.

Aladdin General Store is one of those places.

This historic general store also serves as an antique shop, post office, campground, and a bar.

Grab a drink, browse through the goods, and revisit the good old days in Aladdin.

Aladdin General Store Information and Map: 3983 WY-24, Aladdin, WY

Full Throttle Saloon

Full Throttle Saloon is one of MANY bars that attracts visitors during the rally.

This one, however, has drawn lots of attention on reality tv, and holds the title of World’s Largest Biker Bar.

Stop by, enjoy the iconic sculptures lining the roadway on the way in, and grab a cold drink.

Full Throttle Saloon: 19942 SD-79, Vale, SD

Wyatt’s Lemonade Stand

Last, but certainly not least, is Wyatt’s Lemonade Stand.

During your ride up and down Interstate 90, be sure to stop at least once to grab a glass of cold lemonade from this young entrepreneur.

Wyatt’s vision has grown into a fantastic example of how the motorcycle community has a large heart when it comes to charity.

Wyatt’s Lemonade: 21469 Sturgis Rd, Piedmont, SD 57769


Sturgis Virgin Bucket List map

Source: Google Maps | Used with permission


If you’re a Sturgis Virgin, make sure you visit as many of these places as possible during your first visit to the rally.

There are dozens of other amazing sites, restaurants, and rides in the Black Hills – and there’s no way to hit them all in one visit.

By the end of your first rally, you’ll be hooked and hungry for more.

Welcome Sturgis Virgins – enjoy the ride!


Getting ready for your first Sturgis trip?

Check out Sturgis Virgin? Here are 10 Items You Might Forget to Pack


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