Every year we get many threads started that ask the same stuff over adn over, so I thought I'd put this all together to help the Sturgis first timers know a little about what they are getting into and answer some of the most asked questions..
Sturgis is a major bike rally, if you have never been to one, your in for a shock. In two words... IT'S BIG!!! Four to Five hundred thousand people crowded into a town of 5,000. To give them credit, the town of Sturgis is set up for the crowd, and manage it quite well given the situation. Traffic seems to flow well for the most part, the 2 mile ride thru town can often be done in less then 30 minutes, however, with a popular band playing out at the Chip, or some other event goin on, the ride thru town can last forever, I've seen it take as long as 2 hours to go 2 to 3 miles. Plan for it, and watch the oil temp on yer bike. Burnt or too hot oil can ruin an engine in no time. If you dont have an oil temp guage, get one. Harley sells one that replaces your oil fill cap, the analog ones sell for under 100 bucks and are well worth it. If your bike does get hot, cool it off. Many experianced riders will shut the bike off at any down hill stretch in town and let the bike coast, or push it for a few blocks to let it cool. If your on the flats and dont want to push it... as soon as it starts getting hot, pull over and shut it down. This is where riding with a group helps alot. You can relax on the curb, drink some water, smoke a cigerette, and just talk to your group about the great stuff you've seen and done so far on your trip. Sure makes the 30-40 minutes you bike needs to cool down go a lot faster.
Now on to other things.
Yep, you guessed it, they will be high, tho not out of reach. Beer in town, 4-5 bucks a bottle, out of town, about half that. Food... high but not bad... the street side venders are the worst, but the name places ya see at home are about the same (Dennys, McDonnalds, IHOP, ect), if your renting a place with a kitchen, or camping and ya packed a stove, buying at the grocery and cooking yer own is the cheepest. If you forgot to pack, or run out of some supply, many of the campgrounds have stores ya can buy what ya need, but the cost will be high... Spearfish and Rapid both have Walmart.
While we're talking prices, just how much money do I need to bring?? Well that really depends on you, and what you want to do in Sturgis. For just the day to day stuff (gas, eats, beer) I spend about 50-60 bucks a day, but I eat at the cheeper places, and I dont drink till I fall down. Everybody wants a T-shirt from their stay, prices start at 3 for 20 bucks up to 30 bucks each for something with buttons and a pocket, price depends on quality, and there is a large span of quality (experiance says, the cheep t-shirts after about 5 or 6 washings, ya cant read em anymore). There's also cups, banners, stickers, patches, ect ect ect. Expect to pay what you would pay at any tourist vacation spot for these items. Leathers, Bike parts, and other stuff... lots and lots to be had, the venders are out in force, in both Sturgis and Rapid. There are deals to be made, but the new (this year) stuff will cost ya just as much as at home, tho it might be easyier to find here. Also, especialy with dated items, the prices go down later in the week... cheeper to almost give the stuff away then to pack it up and take it home, many venders will be giving great deals that last weekend.... So.. how much money do ya need to bring??? 50-60 bucks a day, plus enough for t-shirts, plus any parts/accessories ya want to pick up, plus I bring an extra 500 for emergancies (one year I had to buy a new rear tire and rim). Of course this does not include the cost of sleeping... we'll git int that next
Places to stay...
Motels, Houses, Cabins
, ect... these are spendy, and fill up fast. Prices start at 150 a night and go up. I never stay here so I cant tell you everything but in 04 I met a woman trying to find a place first Sunday of the rally, and all she could find was a room at the Motel 6, in Rapid for 350 a night... Most years the rooms fill fast, by January, they are pretty much booked... but thats most years... 09, there was room still available the week of the rally at the Holiday Inn in Sturgis... go figure... Anyway... if your one of those that needs a bed and a private bathroom in the room... book early to be safe
many of the campground have RV spots available, but as with the motels... they fill up fast, prices vary with the campground, not as high as a motel room... but way more then tenting it...
The cheepest way to go... and in my opinion, the most fun, as you get to party with the other campers and meet new people (the motel crowd pretty much stay with the people they came with).
Prices vary from Campground to Campground, depending on location and what they offer... I'll go into some of the most popular ones in/close to town, remember tho... the farther away, the less ya pay. Also, most of the campground never fill up... ie, ya might be camping with tents touching on all sides, but they will still sell admitance to campers... they will find someplace to put ya, so other than price at a few of the campgounds, it wont matter when ya book your stay
Buffalo Chip.. Party central, they have live name bands every night (ZZ Top, George Throgood, Heart, Alice Cooper, ect ect) who they have changes every year, so check their web site. Prices start about 180 for the week, but goes up fast as they start to book bands for the next year... as rally time gets closer they sell one day passes... price depends on who's the band... in 09, it was 65 for George, 110 for Areosmith... the week pass normaly tops out at about 300-350 for the week. More to know about the chip... if ya want to sleep at night... stay someplace else, the bands stop about 1am, but the partying does not... most nights it starts to quiet down about 3am.. but at 6am ya got people getting up for the daily ride, and of course they have to see how loud thier pipes are at 6am... Shade... forget it, its a cow pasture... restrooms... their outhouses, and after noon of the first day, dont stand down wind. But... if ya dont mind ruffing it, noise, dirt, dust, mud, and ya want to party all week and see topless chicks... the Chip is the place
Glencoe... Party central #2, this one is a bit harder for me to price... ya gonna have to check the web site... years past they were just a party campground, then that did bands, then they didn't now they do again but its not included with the camping...this year... I dont know... as for the rest of it... camping... shade in about half of it... get there early in the week if ya want shade (thursday or friday before the rally) after that, ya might still find shade, as people are coming and leaving daily. The main attraction to Glencoe is "titty alley", every afternoon many women get on their bikes, or behind their buys bikes and ride the main road thru the campground with everything hanging out (tho some of the younger ones aint hanging.. they're more pointing)... facilities are much cleaner then at the chip, but not quite the party as the chip...
Lamphier... next to Glencoe, this is a "family campground"... clean, shade, small, if your not there early, ya might be camping on a slope. Quiet hours after 10pm, so ya can get yer sleep, if ya want to party, the Full Throuttle Saloon is 2 blocks away... walking distance... price is about 18 a night.
Days End... another family campground, but with adult features... plenty of flat areas, plenty of shade, picnic tables abound, clean porta potties, and restrooms, clean showers, ect... there is a party barn with live band nightly, tho they are local stuff, not name bands...more of a layed back atmosphere then an all out party... about 5 blocks from downtown, ya can walk it... but the walk back is a long one... price.. about 18 to 25 a night, (special rates for longer stays)
many other campgrounds around the area, but these are the close ones... find out more by checking the links for the different campgounds found elseware on the Sturgis.com site
Weather to expect...
anything and everything... seen frost on the ground one morning, and 90 deg temps the next... seen it so dry ya can see dust clouds from someone riding thru a campground 5 miles away to rain and tornados
I pack for warm weather, but bring a few long sleeve, along with full leathers, and rain gear just incase,... if tenting I also bring an extra blanket... it can get nippy at night
What to pack...
for those that are trailering, or bringing a support car/truck... ya can bring the kitchen sink if ya want.. for those of us that ride, space is at a premium, so we have to pack only what we need, and not alot of extras... so I'll just keep this to the riders...
clothes... just enough for the days your gonna be gone... there are laundry facilities available at some campgounds and in the surrounding towns if ya want to spend a day at the laundry mat... I dont, so I pack enough t get me there and back... on the subject of clothes... ya buying and t-shirts??? will ya can wear them so thats less shirts ya have to pack from home.. also... rain gear, some warm clothes, tent, sleeping bag or blankets, air matress (a must if tenting), sunscreen, chapstick, flashlight, camera, extra batteries, duct tape (another must) extra bungies.... I also bring along some large plastic trash bags (the yard and leaf kind) to cover duffles and bags if it rains on the ride... yer duffle might be water proof... but believe me... a full day of riding in the rain and stuff will be wet...if ya want to bring lanterns and stoves for cooking/seeing at the tent site... check into the mountian climbing supply stores around you ... we have REI where live and that stuff is great for the biker... small, light, and convenient.... if you opt to bring the backpack/mountian climbing stuff, bring an extra fuel canister... they dont use the colman propane and you will be hard pressed to find the right fuel on the road... bring it from home... anything else... if ya dont know if ya will need it or not... leave it at home, Remember... if ya dont bring something and need it.. or ya forget something... ya can always buy it there... Walmart and K-mart get plenty of bussiness.. believe me...while on the subject of packing... many campsites have UPS or FEDEX service... check with the campground and find out... address, ect... I have never sent stuff ahead, but I do pack up all my extras and dirty clothes and FEDEX em home, that way the wife has a chance to wash and stuff before I get home
and the ride home is easier with less luggage to worry about on the bike
Many, many good rides to be had in the area... I'll just go over a few of the more popular ones here... check out the Black Hills tourest site for other stuff and more info...
Devils tower/ Hullet, Wy.
about 50 miles from Sturgis in Wyoming, very popular ride and some great photo opps... ride out, see the rock, then stop in Hullet for some cool drink before heading back... this can be a very hot ride... open areas and no trees...
heads south out of the town of Spearfish, very scenic, with water falls and tall cliffs, takes about 2 hours with stops for photos, lodge at the south end for refreshments and food, then ya can head back north thru Lead, and Deadwood, lots of history... and casinos... Lots of riders thru the canyon, some not very experianced, take your time, enjoy the ride and watch for idiots
From Keystone to Custer, the turn off is actually between Keystone and Mt Rushmore, lots of turns, 2 places the road actually goes under itself (or over depending on direction), also 2 tunnels (if coming from Custer as you enter one of the tunnels ya can see Rushmore thru the tunnel) many photo ops, many curves, many bikes (some not so experianced) and watch for the occasional RV. after the iron mountain ride many go onto Custer, and Custer NP ... lots of wild life, in town, venders, restraunts, bars, ect... from there, head back north out of Custer to Crazy Horse Monument, then on to Deadwood again..
Very beautiful ride with lots of twisties and photo ops... cuts off from bottem (south end) of Iron Mountian and comes out just north of Crazy Horse
(Iron Mountian, with a stop at Mt Rushmore, weather ya opt for Custer, or Needles, figure and all day adventure)
do this one only if its cool, and ya love long rides... east of Rapid City, it goes thru some very dry, hot country, but is a must see if your up to it. basicly erousion, wind and rain, have left some beautiful country out in the middle of nowhere... if you enter at the west side, ya come out by Wall, SD... stop into Wall Drug and get your bumper sticker, along with a cold beverage before starting the 100 plus mile ride back to Sturgis
Finaly... before leaving, check you bike.. make sure its up for the trip, breakdowns suck, if your tires are "getting there", buy new ones before the trip... if your trip is gonna be 3000 miles or more, plan on an oil change somewhere in route (there are places in Sturgis that do it, along with the Harley dealer in Rapid)
Remember, there will be many novice riders there, along with young riders wanting to "show off", but the largest group will be experianced, responsible riders... dont let the fools scare ya off... but watch for them... better to get out of the way and let them kill themselves, then to go down with them.
Sturgis can be an experiance of a lifetime... many come once, then keep coming back... be safe, be responsible, but most of all.. have fun, and I'll see ya there