Dump 500,000 bikers, an endless supply of booze, and an army of barely clothed women anywhere and you’ll have a good time—even in the middle of nowhere. That’s just what the founders of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally did. Now in its 68th year, the legendary event takes place August 4 – 10 in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
The center of action is Main Street in Sturgis, SD, a sleepy town of 7,000 that transforms into a mini-city of half a million bike enthusiasts every August. Start your trip off with a new tattoo from the visiting artists who set up temporary shop for the week. Last year, 127 tattoo shops from around the country were represented, and rally director Pepper Massey expects this year to be no different. One of the main events is the World Championship of Bike Building. Customizing teams from Sweden, Japan, Hungary, and the States will display their bikes at Champions Park from August 2 – 6. And check out the annual Motorcycle Expo at the Sturgis Community Center; this year, fine artist Scott Jacobs will be exhibiting his photo-realistic paintings of beautiful women and bikes.
Head to the hills surrounding Sturgis for the rides, races, and concerts. The Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club will host an amateur hill climb at Gypsie club grounds on August 4 and a pro climb on August 8. On August 7, the Legends Ride will start in Deadwood, SD, wind through pine forests, pass the granite walls of Vanocker canyon, and conclude with a huge celebration at the Buffalo Chip Campground, just outside of Sturgis. The campground, famous for its carnival atmosphere throughout the rally (think fire dancers, bikini wrestling, and a reptile zoo) will also host some of the best concerts this year: Kid Rock on August 4, Lynyrd Skynyrd August 5, and ZZ Top August 7
If you’re down for a weeklong party in one of America’s most beautiful natural settings, book your trip now, as hotels and campgrounds fill up fast. For the comforts of home (or at least a private bathroom), reserve a room at the Best Western in Sturgis or Buffalo Ridge or a condo at Barefoot Resort. For a more authentic experience, tow your bikes with a rented RV and park it for the week at Big Rig RV Park. Or, just pack your saddlebags with a tent, set up camp at Bulldog Campground or Free Spirit Campground, and sleep where you drop.