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2023 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally - A Comprehensive Guide

2023 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally - A Comprehensive Guide

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is the most anticipated annual motorcycle event in the United States. Held in Sturgis, South Dakota, the Sturgis Rally was founded by J.C. (Clarence) “Pappy” Hoel back in 1938 after he took an interest in Indian motorcycles. Hoel established the Jackpine Gypsies Club before setting the foundation for the Black Hill Classic Rally. Initially, the rally featured thrilling motorcycle races and stunts. Over the years, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally has evolved into a vibrant festival featuring concerts, bike shows, parades, group rides, motorcycle races, contests, exhibitions, and other forms of entertainment. Moreover, you will see all kinds of motorcycles during the Sturgis Rally, including Harley Davidson, Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Indian, and other brands of motorcycles. Harley Davidson bikes tend to be the highlight of this event due to being sponsored by the Harley Owners Group.

Sturgis, South Dakota has more than 500,000-700,000 visitors attending the rally every year. The Guinness Book of World Records has recently named Sturgis Rally as “the World’s Largest Motorcycle Rally” for hosting the most number of participants for the last 80 years.

This year, motorcyclists will celebrate the 83rd Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Since its inception, the event has continued to be held every year except during World War II and the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Date & Venue

In 2016, the organizers of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally extended the event to last 10 days. Every year, the rally starts during the first week of August. The 2023 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally will start on August 4 and end on August 13. This event will take place in the city of Sturgis, South Dakota near the Black Hills. Attendees can book tickets, and entrance bands, and explore the campgrounds, concerts, stalls, and performances starting from August 1.

2. Weather & Climate

In August, the average temperature in Sturgis, South Dakota is about 87°F during the day and about 59°F at night. Make sure you check the weather conditions as the rally dates come closer. Typically, you will experience hot days and cooler nights. For the low humidity and light breezes, it is best to dress in short-sleeve clothing to ensure comfort.

3. Registration & Entry

To participate in the 2023 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, you first have to register on the rally’s official website. Registrations for the 2023 Sturgis Rally are currently open. Basic registration is free of charge, only requiring you to click on the “Get Basic” registration tab and input your basic personal information. You will get a free 83rd rally patch, ride pin, information guide, and welcome packet after registering. The packet includes coupons and maps to help you navigate the rally.

Premium registration costs around $29.95, and includes microfiber maps of the Black Hills, a welcome packet, coupons, and gifts. Once registration is complete, you can collect the items from the Sturgis Rally information center next to Big Engine Bar near Crossroads.

The free-of-cost early registration is a limited time offer so try to take advantage of the discount while you can. Moreover, if you are attending the rally with a group, then only one member can benefit from the free basic registration. Otherwise, each member must register separately.

2023 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Registration
Basic Registration Premium Registration
Free of Cost $29.95
Rally Patch Microfiber Maps
Rally Pin Coupons
Welcome Packet Gifts
Maps Welcome Packet

4. Special Tokens for Harley Owner Group (H.O.G) Members

Harley Davidson is the biggest sponsor and supporter of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Like every year, the Harley community will take part in the festivities. Though the registration process is the same for Harley riders and H.O.G members, each member will receive a special rally token at all entry locations during check-in. However, members are required to provide proof of H.O.G membership to receive the tokens. These rally tokens allow you to participate in the following H.O.G-only events at the Sturgis Rally:

August 4
Black Hills Challenge at H.O.G Check-in Booth Challenges with Rewards
August 4-11
H.O.G Social Hour at Iron Horse Saloon Complimentary Snacks, Drinks, and Appetizers
August 10
H.O.G Bike Games at Pappy Hoel Campground Games & Pool Party

5. Admission Passes

To participate in the music festivals, concerts, pool parties, races, bike shows, talent contests, motorcycle camping, exhibitions, games, and other activities, you would have to purchase the entrance passes to the campgrounds where they will be held.

Admission pass reservations are currently open and early bookings can provide discounted prices. Some of the most popular campgrounds you should consider buying a pass to include:

  • The pass to Buffalo Chip Campground will give you access to the campsites, RV sites, cabins, glamping sites, or any accommodations within the premises. It will also give you free access to all concerts, stage entertainment and shows, races, art exhibitions, pool parties, guided Black Hill rides, and other facilities.
  • The pass to Pappy Hoel Campground will give you free access to all the concerts in the Iron Horse Saloon and other activities planned by the Pappy Hoel hosts.

6. Vendor Registration

If you have exceptional tattooing and piercing skills or want to sell wares at the rally for profit, then you can become a vendor at the 83rd Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Vendor pre-registrations are open from April 1 to July 20. First-time vendors are required to send a $500 personal bond to the South Dakota Department of Revenue. Sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products will be regulated by the Revenue Department. The tax rates for vendors range from 6% to 12.5% depending on the items and services provided. To set up your stall or booth, you need to get a license for each location you plan to sell from. In addition, different goods and skills will require different vending licenses. For more details, check out the official website. You can also download the complete 2023 Sturgis Rally Vending Guide available on the website.

7. 2023 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Events

At Sturgis Rally 2023, you can witness musical performances and concerts, participate in guided motorcycle rides, and enjoy custom bike shows, thrilling bike races, various talent contests, and motorcycle rides. The event schedule includes:

7.1 2023 Sturgis Rally Concerts

From August 4 to 13, you can enjoy the best multi-genre music at these popular concert venues:

  • Buffalo Chip
  • The Knuckle Saloon
  • Harley Davidson Rally Point
  • Iron Horse Saloon
  • The Juke Joint at Kickstand
  • Full Throttle Saloon
  • Loud American - Jack Daniels Stage Inside
  • Loud America - Budweiser Stage Outside
  • Eye Candy Saloon - Shade Valley
  • Glencoe Camp

The following bands and rap groups will perform at these venues. The list provided is subject to change as the rally gets closer, so make sure you constantly check the website for updates

August 4
Venue Concert
Harley Davidson Rally Point Arcana Kings
Glencoe Camp Resort Moonshine Bandits
August 5
Full Throttle Saloon Moonshine Bandits
Iron Horse Saloon Aaron Watson
Loud American Roadhouse Arcana Kings
August 6
Harley Davidson Rally Point Arcana Kings
Buffalo Chip Lynyrd Skynyrd
Glencoe Camp Resort Moonshine Bandits
August 7
Kickstands Campground & Venue Creed Fisher
Loud American Roadhouse Arcana Kings
August 8
Harley Davidson Rally Point Arcana Kings
Buffalo Chip REO Speedwagon
Kickstands Campground & Venue Creed Fisher
August 9
Buffalo Chip Whiskey Myers
Thursday August 10
Harley Davidson Rally Point Arcana Kings
Kickstands Silent Theory
Kickstands Campground & Venue Gravel
August 11
Iron Horse Saloon Skillet
Loud American Roadhouse Arcana Kings
Kickstands Campground & Venue Gravel
Kickstands Silent Theory
Full Throttle Saloon Ned LeDoux
August 12
Harley Davidson Rally Point Arcana Kings
Kickstands Silent Theory
Kickstands Campground & Venue Gravel
Loud American Roadhouse Arcana Kings
August 13
Kickstands Campground & Venue Gravel
Kickstand Silent Theory

Performers expected to appear at the Full Throttle Saloon include:

  • Jackyl
  • Queensryche
  • Slaughter
  • Warrant
  • Colt Ford
  • Drowning Pool 
  • Gilby Clarke
  • Josey Scott

The performance dates for these bands are yet to be confirmed. Keep checking the Pappy Hoel Campground official website for news and updates.

At Buffalo Chip Campground, the 2023 Sturgis Rally concert lineup is as follows:

  • ZZ Top 
  • Goodfire
  • Kow Wetzel
  • Steel Panther
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • Limp Bizkit
  • Lita Ford
  • Styx
  • REO Speedwagon
  • Whiskey Myers
  • Georgo Thorogood and the Destroyers
  • Def Leppard
  • Deathwire Daredevil Spectacular
  • Pop Evil

Bands at other salons, campgrounds, stages, and Sturgis Rally venues are yet to be announced.

7.2 2023 Sturgis Rally Motorcycle Rides

The 2023 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally provides ample opportunities to travel with your friends and celebrities during motorcycle rides. These motorcycle rides are organized by the Buffalo Chip Campground organizers. The money collected from these rides is used for charities. All the rides are non-refundable for any reason.

The list of Sturgis Rally 2023 motorcycle rides include the following:

Motorcycle Ride Dates Pricing
Legends Ride Contribution August 7 $175-$350
One person can purchase the ride for a maximum of 4 people
Biker Belles Ride Contribution August 8 $85-$170
Rusty Wallace Contribution Ride August 9 $175-$350
West Frontier Motorcycle Ride August 10 $250-$500

7.3 Thrilling Motorcycle Rides Near the 2023 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

For most riders, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally provides an opportunity to explore the scenic motorcycle rides near and around the Black Hills. If you cannot stay for the full 10 days, at least make sure you visit some of the following roads:

  1. Mount Rushmore
    This one-hour ride from Sturgis is the most popular trip among riders. The gigantic mountains and spell-bounding monuments provide the best scenery for pictures. Also, the smooth road will allow you to fully utilize your motorcycle’s speed and performance.
  2. Spearfish Canyon
    Barely 30 minutes away from Sturgis, Spearfish Canyon offers 22 miles of uninterrupted turns and curves that put your riding skills to the test.
  3. Iron Mountain Road
    If you travel to Mount Rushmore, make sure to fit the Iron Mountain Road in your riding schedule. You will experience the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, Keystone, and Custer State Park Wildlife Loop. When on this route, spend some time off your motorcycle and take in the natural beauty of your surroundings.

8. Other Events at the 2023 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Besides riding and music, there are a lot of other activities and events that you can enjoy at the rally, even if you don’t have admission passes to campgrounds or the concerts being held there. Though only an incomplete list has been published by the Sturgis Rally organizers, the events so far include:

  • Opening Ceremony
  • Mayor Poker Tournament
  • Mayor's Pub Crawl
  • Harley Davidson Police Concept Motorcycles - Bike Show
  • Military Appreciation Event
  • Best Beard & Mustache Contest
  • Best Tattoo Contest
  • Motorcycle Shows
  • South Dakota Gold Star Monument
  • Mayor’s Ride
  • Medicine Wheel Ride
  • Pearl’s Girls Ride
  • Ride with a Local

9. Accommodations

There are plenty of accommodations at or close to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. You should be able to find comfortable accommodations that fit your budget and preferences.

9.1 Campgrounds

Riders who want to experience the true Sturgis Motorcycle Rally experience should stay at campgrounds. Most of the events and activities take place there. You also get a chance to meet new people and share your love for tattoos, bikes, riding, and music with a vibrant motorcycle community. Some of the best late-night and pool parties also take place at campgrounds.

If you own a motorhome, you can reserve an RV site. Otherwise, motorcyclists can choose a tent camping site. You would have to bring the camping gear yourself, but the campsite provides access to water, electricity, washrooms, and showers. Premium campsites, also known as glamping sites, are reserved on a first come first serve basis.

If you are riding with a group and do not mind lots of noise, you can book a cabin instead. Lodging is available on the Sturgis Rally’s official website.

9.2 Rent a Hotel Room or a House

If you find spending too much time at the rally to be overwhelming, you can rent a hotel room. Since the Sturgis Rally is not child-friendly, consider renting a house to avoid exposing your children to all the noise, raves, and revving engines. To book lodging, check out Black Hills Vacations.

10. Best Restaurants and Diners Nearby

There are various great restaurants near the Sturgis Rally venue that you can dine at in between the concerts, bike shows, races, and rides. Whether it is your first or one of many visits to the rally, dining at the Dakotah Steakhouse in Rapid City is a must. Business Insider has named Dakotah Steakhouse as one of the best restaurants for its flavorsome “cowboy rib-eye steak,” delicious beef steaks, burgers, and decadent chocolate cake.

When out to enjoy the exhilarating Mount Rushmore ride, make sure you stop to grab a bite at the Colonial House Restaurant and Bar. From delicious baked goods to refreshing drinks, lightweight salads, and filling steaks, this restaurant offers amazing food in a comfortable setting.

Some of the other great restaurants and diners in close proximity to the 2023 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally that offer the best food, drinks, and prices include:

  • Full Throttle Saloon
  • Loud American Roadhouse
  • Knuckle Saloon
  • Dungeon Bar

11. How to Reach the 2023 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Venue

To reach the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, you will need to consider your budget, comfort, and transportation to get you to the rally.

11.1 Ride Your Motorcycle

Many riders choose to ride to the venue on their personal bikes. Riding your bike is cheaper than shipping it to the venue. However, riding requires stamina and could result in you being too exhausted to enjoy the events and activities. If you live far from Sturgis, riding across long distances may be too taxing.

11.2 Rent a Motorcycle

Renting a motorcycle at Sturgis, South Dakota allows you to temporarily own and operate a specific model. You can visit well-reputed motorcycle rental services, such as EagleRider, to rent your favorite motorcycle at a reasonable price for the duration of the event.

11.3 Carry-on Motorhomes

If you own an RV, you can tow or carry it on the motorhome and drive to the Sturgis Rally venue. RV sites ensure you won’t have trouble finding a parking spot and give you space to manage your vehicle.

12. Parking Spaces

Large spaces are allocated for parking during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally as people from across the United States come to the event. However, it is recommended that you book your parking spots early. There is no free parking at the Sturgis Rally. The organizers charge a small fee that is used to maintain the parking spaces. Riders can also park motorcycles on the streets if they do not block the cleaning machines. Since most events continue until late in the night, it is common for riders to park their bikes on the streets and get tickets.

13. Pack Light

Your packing list will depend on your accommodations and comfort needs. If you plan to camp at the rally, you will need to bring camping gear, including tents, sleeping bags, pillows, etc. But if you are staying in a cabin, rented house, or hotel room, you will not need to bring camping essentials. You can carry luggage in saddlebags, sissy bar bags, and motorcycle trunks.

If you are riding your motorcycle, you will need to bring motorcycle tools. But if you are transporting your bike to the venue or renting a bike, then you do not need to pack tools. If your rental motorcycle breaks down, you can call for road assistance partnered with the rental service. On the other hand, if your personal motorcycle gets damaged, you can find a mechanic in Sturgis to fix your bike.

The list of essentials to bring includes:

  • House Keys
  • Motorcycle Keys (if transporting your bike)
  • Cell Phone & Charger
  • Cash
  • ID Card
  • Insurance Documents
  • Motorcycle Ownership Documents
  • Flashlight
  • Water Bottle
  • Tissues/Towels
  • Dry Snacks
  • Safety Gear
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Change of Clothes (according to the duration of stay)
  • Rain Jacket
  • Lightweight Blanket ( in case of cold weather)

14. Last Words

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is one of the best motorcycle destinations in the U.S. You will experience once-in-a-lifetime adventures, make strong friendships, and rediscover your love for motorcycling. If you haven’t been to the rally before, then let the year 2023 mark your first time at this rally.

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