USER'S NOTE: Throughout this site you will find links to other sites. When you click on the link it will open in a NEW window. That new window may cover this one, but they are both open, so you can switch back and forth. There are a couple map sites you may wish to keep open though. Just minimize them, and pop 'em up again when you need them. GEOGRAPHIC NOTE: When you look at the map , note that I-90 in this area makes a jog between Rapid City and Spearfish. It runs almost due north from Rapid City to Sturgis, then more north that west from Sturgis to Spearfish. That can be confusing to people who carry a mental picture in their head of I-90 just running east and west (as it mostly does), and wind up getting them lost.

There are folks out there headed to Sturgis who have never been there, and others who have but don't know that the world doesn't stop at Spearfish. This section is for to those who would explore beyond. It's a suggested route that will run you around the Sturgis area for a day, then through God's country, over in central and western Wyoming for five more. It also has a few tips to help those who've never been in the far west, especially the high, wild, lonesome country.
rally info
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  A Day Around Sturgis
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If this is your first time in Sturgis, let me tell that in my opinion, unless you just like crowded sidewalks, crowded restaurants, crowded bars, crowded curbs, and crowded every-damn-thing, you can see what's there in a full day, and maybe allow another day just in case there's something you want to look at twice, or a special event somewhere. Sixty-eight percent (by my own personal measurement) of the places there are selling leather (they kill every cow in Texas and Oklahoma during the springtime to make leather for Sturgis), and only half a dozen of them are worth a damn. And how many times can you look at the same jacket or chaps, anyway?

Another 15% are selling tattoos, and if you don't know what you want for a tattoo, browsing through the same 10 flash books in 32 different locations is not the way to find out. If you're gonna get one, make up your mind ahead of time what you want, take a picture with you, and let some inkslinger create a custom flash. It'll cost a little more, and you'll have to wait overnight, but then you won't see your tattoo on 227 other people, some of them women who could whip your ass anyway, and might resent seeing THEIR tattoo on you!

One of the parts I do like, though, is all the motorcycle vendor areas around and in the Civic Center on Lazelle Street - you'll find lots of good scooter stuff and related items there.

If you are looking for leather, I've got a recommendation. The stuff is industrial-strength, heavy duty, well-tanned, well stitched, and made by a scooter tramp who ain't into fashion over function. He makes saddlebags, tool rolls, chaps, and a couple other items. The chaps, for instance, will nearly stand up by themselves when new, but a few dozen hours on your scooter and they break in soft and supple as a good work glove. Far as I remember, he doesn't make jackets. I can't recall his name, but the outfit is LongRider Leathers. He operates out of a little canvas cubicle, usually right by the sidewalk, somewhere on the north side of Main Street between Third and Fourth. If you want stuff that will last a lifetime, he makes it.

Devote a day to riding the local area - it is terrific, and don't try to cram it into the same day you spend in town, won't work. You oughta spend an evening downtown though. It's pretty interesting, and that can certainly follow a day on the road. You could easily spend two or three interesting days riding in the general area, but since this section is partly devoted to going to Wyoming, I'm only gonna show a one-day Sturgis-area trip here.

Unless you have fuel injection or one of the Keihin CV carbs (stock on Harley since about 1986), or an SU, your scooter is gonna run pretty rough in Sturgis, and just plain bad in Wyoming. Other carbs are not self-compensating for altitude, and will be very rich up there. Since you won't find anyone in the area who can do it for you quick, you guys who just had to have that sexy, hell for fast Mikuni or S&S oughta take the opportunity to learn how to do a jet swap; t'ain't hard. Although you might not suffer much in Sturgis, you'll start climbing once you hit the Wyoming line, and most of the next few days will be well above 6,000 feet; Wyoming is a very high state. You'll want to lean out your idle mixture too. You'll be amazed at the number of sea level bikes there that just won't run worth a damn. You'll see LOTS of black exhaust smoke, and lotsa guys pushing a scooter they've flooded, and hear a plenty of rough-running motors. A spare set of plugs, pregapped, is a good idea too. 'course none of that applies if you tuned your bike to run in, say, Denver, or Albuquerque or El Paso, or Phoenix, which are all pretty high themselves.

TIP:Take raingear or there's a good chance you'll be sorry. There have at least been heavy showers in the mountains nearly every year I've been at Sturgis, and all you need to do is soak your leathers to make yourself miserable for the day or two it will take them to dry out. If you don't want to take raingear, click here for a trip to another page with a tip on the subject.

A good day's ride there looks something like this - it'll be couple hundred miles or more on interesting two-lane roads, crowded with bikes by the literal tens of thousands. Do not figure on going fast (except maybe on the Interstate, but the cops do work speed there), it's just too damn dangerous. Those mountain roads are twisty, with lots of blind curves, and a good rule of thumb is never go around a curve, or over a hill faster than you are willing to fall down or run into something.

We'll start in Rapid City, 'cause it's an easy place to get to. The route makes sense even if you are camped in Sturgis or somewhere. If you are in Spearfish or Belle Fourche and don't want to start in Rapid City, just run it in reverse.

Start with a visit to Mt RushmoreMt. Rushmore: It's kind of a required stop, and I swear every bike in the area goes there. Don't figure on getting through the immediate area very quick, but it's worth it.

To get there, head south out of Rapid City on South Dakota hwy79, then turn west on SD36, then cut up to the Mt. Rushmore area on SD40; there are lots of signs pointing which way. You'll come into the monument on a dedicated through road that comes in one side of the park and goes right on out the other side, running east and west. Stop at the viewpoint or visitor's center, then just keep right on going the direction you were.

Follow it right on through the monument for a few miles until you come to SD244; turn right on 244 and keep going until you get to US385. You'll pass a couple turns to the left on the way; skip 'em unless you just feel like wandering around. They aren't bad roads, they just lead you off this route and will run you out of time headed south.

Once you get to U.S. 385, make a right and follow it clear up to Lead (pronounced "Leed" up there). There'll be lots of spots to stop for lunch or a beer along the way if you're in the mood. However, if you want to see where Wild Bill Hickok was shot to death, or his grave, keep going on up to Lead, then catch a right down to Deadwood for lunch.

Spearfish CanyonWhen you're done, come back to Lead and pick U.S. 385 again. It goes southwest to connect to U.S. 14, which is the Spearfish Canyon highway. That road's too good to miss, so take it up to Spearfish.

At Spearfish, gas up, then ride I-90 westbound to Sundance, WY. You'll be out of the mountains, in the high, rolling plains then. At Sundance you'll catch U.S. 14 again, heading north. After 20 or 25 miles you'll come to Wyoming 24, which is a right turn to the north, leading to Devil's Tower (of Close Encounters of the Third Kind fame), where you'll find a restaurant, bar, and gas if you didn't get it before.


Hulett, Wyoming - My Favorite Place at "Sturgis"
From there, head on to Hulett, WY, where I usually camp out in a big cottonwood grove beside the river. It's a good 60 miles from Sturgis, a tiny place with a permanent population of about 500, not crowded during Sturgis week. There are just a few guys like me staying there, ones who prefer to go find a crowd instead of being surrounded by it all the time.

That is, except on No Panty Wednesday. That day I swear everybody who's in the area comes there, probably 10,000 bikes or more by noon. The town, responding to biker complaints about Sturgis and its crowds, decided to start their own mini-rally during bike week, and it's worth a visit. (They even have a website for it here.)

There is one gas station there, on the west side of town as you come in on this route. It backs up badly, so I'd make sure I got gas long before I got there.

When you leave Hulett, pick up Wyoming 24 east into Belle Fourche, SD, It's about 45 miles, with gas available at Alladin, about halfway. In Belle Fourche you can take a right, and go back to Spearfish, or look at your map again and pick a route back to Sturgis, or Rapid City, or wherever, but the options are kinda limited.

Or if you feel adventurous, and have had enough of the Sturgis crowds, you can set out on the Wyoming route I show on this site, spending the night in Gillette or Buffalo, Wyoming after you leave Hulett.

I recently heard somebody refer to cops writing tickets for flashing, and the Hulett website says "indecent exposure" is a citable offense, but I never saw anything close to a ticket the two times I've been there. Near as I can tell, the old Sturgis rules apply: no fighting, and no public fucking, but most anything else goes. The cops are very cool, but let's not abuse the town's hospitality and press their patience too much; it would be a shame if it dried up.

TIP: Evenings in the area are usually warm, but if you're out late you'll want your jacket, and you might even want it up in the hills during the day. A jacket is certainly not uncomfortable up there most times, and it is good protection in a falldown. And, if you are gonna head over to the Wyoming high country later in the week, you WILL want your jacket. And chaps. And a sweatshirt. If you are from hot country, and don't want to haul all that stuff on the way to Sturgis, send 'em on ahead by UPS or US Mail (not parcel post rate, though; too slow that way) about a week ahead of time. If you're staying in a motel, call ahead and tell 'em to expect the delivery a day or so ahead of your arrival. If you're camping, send 'em UPS "will call", or USPO general delivery. Do NOT send them to Sturgis, or maybe even not Spearfish though; UPS and USPO are zoos there. Pick a nearby town on the way, like Gillette or Newcastle, WY or Rapid City and pick 'em up at the last minute.

Click here for the five-day Wyoming trip. Or here to return to the top. Or here for main selections page.