Sturgis is a small town in western South Dakota nestled at the edge of the Black Hills, population approximately 6,700. Needless to say, the scenery in this part of the country is breathtaking and thought provoking. Riding through the hills or looking out across the plains, it is easy to imagine explorers, Lewis and Clark wandering around exploring new territory or Dances with Wolves and the Sioux Indians wintering in the Black Hills or summering on the plains, hunting buffalo. Visiting Sturgis and the surrounding areas will definitely take you back in time and, if you’ve never been, it’s worth the trip. The preferable time of year would be in the spring or fall when the weather is mildest. And if you choose Sturgis, SD as your vacation spot, you won’t regret it. There are many interesting sites to visit and only a short distance away.
The BadlandsNational Park is 87 miles west off I-90. It is 242,756 acres of preserved canyons, jagged ridges, spires and prairies. The scenery is so beautiful and unusual that it is not surprising that filmmakers have used this location to shoot films like Starship Troopers and Dances with Wolves. When you see it, you’ll know why. See photo below.
Deadwood, once a small mining town that was founded in 1876 during the gold rush era, is only14 miles from Sturgis. Legend is that Wild Bill Hickok was gunned down there during a poker game. Casinos still line this old western town.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is approximately 46 miles from Sturgis and is considered the world’s greatest mountain carving. It stands 6,200 feet and displays sculptures of presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
Crazy Horse Memorial, pictured below, is also a mountain carving and approximately 69 miles from Sturgis. It is currently under construction and estimated time of completion is uncertain. Upon completion it will become the world’s largest sculpture at 563’ high and 641’ long. While visiting Crazy Horse, be sure to visit the educational and cultural memorial which is dedicated to the North American Indian.
If you are really adventuresome, and you want to make the absolute most out of your vacation time, visit Sturgis in August and see the biggest tourist attraction of the year – Bike Week. That’s right! Sturgis, SD is home of the biggest motorcycle rally in the country. The town and surrounding areas population can swell to as many as half a million people during this week. The beautiful Black Hills and above mentioned sites draw motorcyclist back year after year.
The first Black Hills Motorcycle Classic was held in Sturgis on August 14, 1938. It was founded by Clarence “Pappy” Hoel, a member of the Jackpine Gypies motorcycle club; however, it is said that without the help and support from his wife, Pearl, the event may never have been successful. http://www.motorcyclemuseum.org/halloffame. Nine motorcyclists attended the rally and participated in racing events that year. Participation in this rally has continued to grow and today it draws over half a million people from all over the country. To learn more about the 7-10 day event go to http://www.sturgis.com. Below is a picture of Main Street, Sturgis, SD, during Bike Week 1990.
Even if you’re not a motorcycle enthusiast, it’s a great place to people watch. Just make sure you get your hotel or campground reservations in advance because accommodations sell out fast. And heads up – There is no fine dining.