Sometimes taking an RV trip is about more than giving your motorhome a run. It’s about trying something new and being part of a unique experience. If you’re a bike lover, and your alarm clock is sunshine on chrome, then the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is for you.
Sturgis, South Dakota may be a small town at any other time of the year, but over ten days in August, its population spirals to over half a million people. Hundreds of thousands of people, half of those on bikes, make their way to the rally that has been gracing the town’s calendar since the late 1930s.
It incorporates racing, stunts, a hill climb, half-mile races, and motocross riding. Essentially, anything to do with motorcycles is welcomed and encouraged at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
People also attend for the entertainment, and there’s no shortage of that. Many private establishments come alive with the sound of music, not to mention the Buffalo Chips Campground that has become host to the major rally concert. Famous artists like Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, Kid Rock, and Ozzy Osbourne, have graced the stages to entertain thousands of enthusiastic fans.
While the region beckons travelers of all ages, some Sturgis Motorcycle Rally events may be more for the adult crowd. This iconic rally brings in hundreds of motorhome users and motorcyclists alike, and it’s worth attending at least one to get an understanding of why it’s such an outstanding event.
Given its popularity and a wide variety of venues, it’s a good idea to look at RV accommodation near Sturgis months in advance. Take the time now to put a plan in place so you can be a part of the action when the rally rolls around once more.
Earlybird and standard tickets can be purchased online for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in the weeks and months leading up to the coveted event. If you are not planning to stay for the full ten days, then your tickets can be for part of the event, rather than all of it. Rally passes give you access to the official rally concert and events, but may not include admission into local establishments. In recent years, passes have cost between $265 and $365.
I-90 and SD-34 are the main roads into Sturgis, and, for the most part, they are easy for motorhomes to navigate. Whether you’re coming from the direction of Nebraska, Wyoming, or elsewhere in South Dakota, your travels are bound to be equally as memorable as the rally itself.
However, given that over 500,000 people attend this event annually, and it’s summer, the roads will be busy. Motorcyclists will be out in full force, and patience is required to keep them and yourself safe. Stay alert and pull over if you are driving under the speed limit and holding up other motorists.
A traffic resource like Safe Travel USA can also prove useful for predicting congestion, and you can then make it safely into Sturgis ready for ten days of fun.
Parking is something worth having a plan for when you enter Sturgis. Tens of thousands of bikes will be lining the streets, leaving less space overall. Fortunately, there are dedicated parking areas for motorcyclists, which means that the main road between 5th and 7th is usually open for regular traffic. You can also head to your RV campground nearby, or park on the outskirts of Sturgis and walk or ride to the events.
Public transportation is lacking in Sturgis, which is why many people bring trailers for their bikes or drive their cars into town. Whether you’re exploring the many rally events in Sturgis or visiting attractions like Mount Rushmore, Spearfish Canyon, and the historic Deadwood, the best way to do so might be in your campervan. Fortunately, many fun things to do in Sturgis are close by, such as the Black Hills National Forest.
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally incorporates half the town and many different venues, which means that onsite camping is not available. However, as long as you book your accommodation months in advance, you should be able to find an RV campground in or near Sturgis that’s accessible with a large RV.
With decades to perfect this event, it makes sense for accommodation options to be plentiful during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally - and they are. From RV resorts to campgrounds and primitive RV camping, there’s something for everyone.
While not all accommodation options are in Sturgis itself, there are plenty on the outskirts near Fort Mead and Rapid City. Nearby South Dakota RV campgrounds include Bear Butte State Park, Custer State Park, and Fort Meade Recreation Area.
Within 35 miles of Sturgis, campers can even enjoy luxury at Rapid City / Black Hills KOA Holiday or settle for a more rustic experience at Black Hills National Forest.
Getting around the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally requires great care. If you are traveling in, for example, a Class A camper, you may have an easier time on the outskirts of the town during the rally. For at least for some of the rally, getting around on foot or by motorcycle may be simplest.
If you are traveling around different parts of Meade County in South Dakota, then your campervan or Airstream is a great option. Be aware of any blind spots in your RV and use your mirrors as you travel to nearby sights like Badlands National Park and Thunder Basin National Grassland.
August is one of the hottest months of the year in Sturgis, which means travelers can pull their summer attire out of hibernation in earnest. However, what people wear can also depend on the events they are attending.
For example, RV-goers who bring a motorbike in a trailer will need safety gear like a jacket, pants, gloves, a helmet, and boots. For those exploring natural attractions, such as walking at Custer State Park, then appropriate clothing and footwear will be essential for that, too.
The gear you bring with you to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally can depend on your plans while in the area. Attending racing events will require cash for vendor purchases, your ticket, and sometimes even binoculars and earplugs. Each venue differs in what you can and can’t bring, and it can often be more convenient to leave much of your possessions in your locked motorhome, and bring a small bag with the basics.
Given that it’s summer during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, travelers may like to spare a thought for how exposed they will be outside. Don’t venture too far without sunscreen, and always carry bug spray, water, and any prescription medication you might need. It’s paramount that you’re aware of your surroundings at all times, for bikes will be zipping in and out of roads.
There will be plenty of opportunities to flex your culinary muscles over the ten days of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Most Sturgis area RV campgrounds, including resorts and primitive spots, allow campfires and fire pits. Some also have communal cooking facilities. You can also use your motorhome kitchen appliances, and pick up supplies at a grocery store near the Fort Meade Recreational Area Park.
As Sturgis is such a small town, there is a limited range of restaurants and dining establishments. Fortunately, the ones present have both a great atmosphere and delicious food. Allow extra time for service, or consider taking a detour to nearby towns and cities like Whitewood and Spearfish to take a break from the hustle and bustle. Day trips to local restaurants offer opportunities for riding your hog or taking friends around in your sidecar.
There is an entire section of Sturgis dedicated to vendors who want to keep the masses fed and watered. On the outer edges of the town toward Bear Butte Creek is a multitude of options to tantalize your taste buds. These vendors will be there for the duration of the rally. Some will accept cash only, but many will have facilities for debit cards and credit cards. You can also pick up Sturgis Motorcycle Rally merchandise by which to remember your RV trip.
Each private venue and event within the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally will have its own set of rules and regulations to keep everyone safe and secure. There is considerable emphasis on the security of personal property, with local police and organizers reminding all visitors to lock and secure their motorhomes, trailers, tow vehicles, and motorcycles. Fortunately, help is never too far away, with a police station near I-90 in the heart of Sturgis.
Beautiful summer days await your enjoyment when you arrive in Sturgis for the motorcycle rally. While rainfall can break up those bright, sunny days, it does little to dampen your experience. However, it can also dictate what you feel like seeing, doing, and experiencing for the day.
Always check a weather app, so you know whether to carry an umbrella for too much sunshine or too much rainfall. Staying aware of weather conditions keeps you prepared for regulating the temperature in your RV, such as popping a vent open for fresh air during the day.
With over half a million people in one small town, it’s a good idea to take all precautions to keep yourself and others safe. Stock up on first-aid supplies for your kit at the local pharmacy and make sure you’ve got enough prescription medication for the length of your trip, if applicable. There is also a hospital within half a mile of the city center if you require assistance. Always dial 911 in an emergency.