Historic Deadwood | Where Sturgis Meets the Wild West

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Welcome to Deadwood, South Dakota.

The town that brought the wild west to the Black Hills.

The history of Deadwood begins in the 1870s, when the discovery of gold in the area brought the miners searching for riches and the American Dream.

The gold camps quickly flourished into a town, bringing all of the notoriety comes with a proper outlaw destination.

Saloons and brothels supported the drinking, gambling, and prostitution habits of the town.

Murders and lawlessness became the way of life.

Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane’s stories both ended in the town, finding their final resting place on the outskirts of town in Mount Moriah Cemetery.

Deadwood, like Tombstone, has been popularized by TV and movies – adding to its lure and drawing modern day crowds to visit the historic outlaw lifestyle that built America west of the Mississippi.

To this day, the allure of Deadwood’s draws visitors from across the globe.


Deadwood during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Every summer, during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, historic downtown Deadwood comes alive with the rumble of thousands of motorcycles.

The rally spans two weekends in early August.

Deadwood, like all other towns in the Black Hills, prepares months in advance for the annual event.

Vendors line the towns, and motorcycles line the streets.

Stores are well-stocked with souvenirs during the rally.

The local casinos run gaming around the clock.

Deadwood is also home to some of the best steakhouses found in the black hills.

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’s Famous Outlaws

Several famous names from the wild west era are associated with Deadwood.

Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane are the most famous.

Others include Seth Bullock, Jack McCall, Poker Alice, Potato Creek Johnny, and Al Swearengen.

Each name holds documented history tied to Deadwood, along with many tall tales and mysteries about their time in town.

Walking through downtown allows you to set foot in the places these icons roamed.

You can stand in the place that Wild Bill was shot by Jack McCall.

Head across the street to view the showcased death chair from the poker table where the famous dead man’s hand was born.

To continue the outlaw tour, check out The Brothel or a ghost tour at the Historic Bullock Hotel.


Mount Moriah Cemetery

Mount Moriah Cemetery is home to the final resting place of several famous Deadwood names.

Both Wild Bill and Calamity Jane are buried within the grounds – with well-marked graves and signage.

There is a small admission fee to visit Mount Moriah.

A self-guided tour, with a map and history of the cemetery comes with the fee.

Be aware that there are very steep hills on the drive into the site and inclined paths leading up to the graves.


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DEadwood Motorcycle Rides

Deadwood is located just west of Sturgis, right in the heart of the Black Hills and the rally.

There are no bad rides in this area and lots of options to make Deadwood a stop.

Three great ride options with Deadwood on the itinerary include:

Ride 1 | Sturgis to Deadwood Loop

Deadwood is located less than 15 miles from downtown Sturgis by way of Highway 14A.

We always enjoy riding between Sturgis and Deadwood.

Our ‘Deadwood Loop’ usually just includes driving straight out to Deadwood and back, but it worth calling out because we love the winding highway with its spectacular scenery.

Highway 14A between these two towns is beautiful.

You’ll encounter heavier traffic at times, but if you’re lucky enough to take this ride on a lighter traffic day be sure to take time to enjoy the ride!


Ride 2 | Deadwood Spearfish Loop

Spearfish Canyon is one of the most talked about rides during the rally.

Spearfish is located about 15 miles northwest of Deadwood by way of Highway 85 and Interstate 90.

After you get off of the interstate, riding down 14A provides a gorgeous, winding, wooded ride through the high walls of Spearfish Canyon Highway.

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.

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.


Ride 3 | Deadwood Nemo Vanocker Loop

This stretch of road is not always highlighted on the local ride maps and could easily be overlooked.

If you’re visiting Deadwood and want to get off of the main drags, head over to Vanocker Canyon.

You’ll find lots of curves, views, and fresh air on this wooded ride.

It’s a scenic alternative to get from Deadwood to Rapid City if you’re looking for a break from the interstate and rally crowds – just follow Nemo instead of getting on Vanocker Canyon Road.

We enjoyed this ride so much that we ended up riding it three days in a row during our first visit to the Black Hills.


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


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