motorcycle destinations

Routes at the 2023 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Routes at the 2023 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is the biggest motorcycle event that every motorcycle enthusiast should experience at least once. Starting from August 4, this grand 10-day motorcycle festival will last until August 13. This event has much to offer in terms of entertainment, music, community, games, recreation, and food. But the main highlight of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is the network of scenic motorcycle rides riders can explore.

Riding your touring motorcycle on scenic routes close to Sturgis, South Dakota during the rally will give you the chance to share this experience with other riders. This article provides a list of all the popular routes that will take you to beautiful landscapes, famous attractions, and remote destinations to and from the Sturgis Rally fairground.

1. Mount. Rushmore Loop

Time : 2 Hours

Distance : 56 miles

Leaving Sturgis, the Mount Rushmore Loop takes you through Wyoming and Mount Rushmore in the south. If you continue riding towards Wyoming on this route, you can enjoy the biggest biker pig roast organized in Beulah and Sundance. This route will bring you back to the Sturgis Rally fairground through the Black Hills.

2. Spearfish Canyon Loop

Time : 2.5 Hours

Distance : 50 miles

From Sturgis, if you ride up towards Deadwood, you will get to ride through the scenic Boulder Canyon. You will eventually leave the wild west and ride through the city of Lead until you reach the Spearfish Canyon. By the time you arrive, it will be time to get lunch at the Spearfish Canyon Lodge at Savoy. Make sure to spend some time exploring the Spearfish Canyon before you ride north to reach Belle Fourche. The most popular attraction at Belle Fourche is the Black Hills Roundup Rodeo. As you head back to the Sturgis Rally venue, you will see St. Onge, the most peaceful city in the northern hills of South Dakota.

The Spearfish Canyon Loop is the most scenic route in the Black Hills area with the following attractions: Little Crow Peak, Spearfish Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Black Hills Mining Museum, HomesGold Mine, Devil’s Bathtub, and the Hippie Hole.

3. Badlands-Bear Butte Route

Time : 4.5 Hours

Distance : 162 miles Badlands

                    85 miles Bear Butte

For the Badlands-Bear Butte Route, make sure you have a full day to travel this long route. After leaving the Sturgis Rally fairground, you can ride the Bear Butte Road, considered one of the most spiritual Native American sanctuaries. If you continue heading south, you will arrive at Badlands National Park, known for having the world’s largest fossil beds. The colorful spires and buttes give the Badlands a unique landscape. You can also go sight-seeing for amazing wildlife such as bighorn sheep and bison.

Furthermore, in Bear Butte State Park, there is a challenging hiking trail with an elevation of 4,426 ft. The Rocky Point Recreation Area near the Belle Fourche Reservoir also lies along the Badlands-Bear Butte Loop.

Other notable locations to visit along the way include the Belle Fourche River, Center of Nation Monument, Whitewood, Sts. Onge, and Nisland Town.

4. Devil’s Tower Loop - The Lasso

Time : 2.5-3 Hours

Distance : 110 miles

The Devil’s Tower Loop takes you through the northern hills of South Dakota and into Wyoming. When coming back to Sturgis, you will ride through the upper northern elevations of the Black Hills through the cities of Lead and Deadwood. You will finally ride through Boulder Canyon before reaching the Sturgis Rally fairground.

When going on the Lasso, you will likely start in Sturgis. Ride west on I-90 from Sturgis and continue riding until you cross over into Wyoming. Next, take Exit 199 or Route 111 and head north until you reach the town of Aladdin. From Aladdin, take Route 24 and ride west to the Devil’s Tower National Monument. Make sure to admire the scenery before heading back via Route 24. Ride south on this route for 5 miles or until you get on US 14. From here, head east and continue riding for 20 miles until you arrive at Sundance, Wyoming. From here, travel on I-90 and head back to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. It is worth mentioning that there are few pit stops and gas stations on this route. Make sure you fill up your bike’s fuel tank before going on this route.

5. Needles Highway and Crazy Horse Loop

Time : 3.5 Hours

Distance : 67 miles

Needles Highway is 65-67 miles from Sturgis. You can get on this route via I-90 E. Travel along this interstate until you transition onto the US-16. When traveling on the Needles Highway and Crazy Horse Loop, you will ride through the eastern part of the Black Hills and pass by Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park.

Wind Cave National Park is the largest prairie in the United States and is a great place to visit for wildlife sightings. This national park is inhabited by bison, coyotes, pronghorns, prairie dogs, and elk. The Custer State Park is famous for its beautiful creeks, towering pine trees, wildlife, large herds of bison, and large granite bedrock. After you enjoy a leisurely ride in these parks, you can head back to Sturgis. On your way back, you can stop and check out the Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills. Though the monument is yet to be completed, it still is a popular tourist attraction.

The Needles Highway has pigtails, tight curves, switchbacks, and sharp turns that require careful maneuvering and control. The 17-mile Iron Mountain Stretch along this route has three large tunnels, 314 curves, three pigtails, and 14 switchbacks. The Keystone and Hill City are the closest towns for lodging, fuel, food, and drink. Another location worth visiting is Sylvan Lake with its serene surface and nearby hiking trails.

6. Vanocker Canyon Ride

Time : 14 minutes - 2 Hours

Distance : 9.1-80 miles

Vanocker Canyon Ride is famed for its twists and turns. Even with its constant curving, this ride is manageable for riders with intermediate skills. This 17-mile stretch also passes through the Black Hills. The mountainous terrain and lush greenery make for beautiful scenery.

The Vanocker Canyon Ride offers good locations to take photos and explore hiking trails. The Deadman Trail system starts near Exit 32. Though a little challenging, this trail will lead you to the old dams that once supplied water to Sturgis. In addition, you can also explore Wonderland Cave. If you ride on this loop for 30 minutes, you will arrive at this popular destination. Wonderland Cave has various rare crystal formations and a souvenir shop if you decide to take a piece of Wonderland Cave with you.

One of the best things about the Vanocker Canyon Ride is that there are multiple riding routes that all lead back to Sturgis. If you are looking for a quick route, then traveling the Vanocker Canyon Road is the fastest way back to your lodging in Sturgis. If you want to spend more time riding past the Black Hills, then take the Vanocker-Black Hills-Nemo loop. From the town of Nemo, you get on Highway 38 via Norris Peak Road, then ride past Strawberry Hills until you reach Deadwood. Leaving Deadwood, ride past Boulder Canyon to reach Sturgis. You can ride continuously back to the Sturgis Rally or stop at Brandin’ Iron Restaurant or camp at the Nemo Guest Ranch.

7. Nemo Road Ride

Time : 2 Hours

Distance : 90 miles

Leaving from the Sturgis Rally venue, you will ride through Boulder Canyon until you arrive at Deadwood. Then, ride down Nemo Road to reach the small town of Nemo. Alternatively, you can ride directly from Sturgis to Nemo on the Vanocker Canyon Road. You can choose to stay at the town of Nemo or ride further on to the ghost town of Roubaix. Rim Rock Highway and Norris Peak Road are the most challenging parts of this ride; if you are not an experienced rider, it is best to maintain a slow speed. To refuel and service your motorcycle, stop at Piedmont, Blackhawk, and Summerset. For this ride, it is best to carry a half-full fuel can that you can attach to your motorcycle’s sissy bar.

8. Playhouse Road Ride

Time : 2 Hours

Distance : 90 miles

If you prefer less crowded roads, then the Playhouse Road Ride is for you. On this route, you can also explore the least traveled roads in the Rockerville, Keystone, and Hill City areas. There are enough sharp twists and turns on this route to make your ride enjoyable and challenging. Popular attractions on this route include Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns and ghost towns. You can also stop at Center Lake if you want to go for a swim.

9. Sundance Ride

Time : 3 Hours

Distance : 118 miles

Sundance Ride cuts through the old mining towns of Central City and Lead. This road passes through Spearfish Canyon and ends in Sundance, Wyoming. The best stops along the way include Four Corners, Buckhorn, and Horton. Once you reach Sundance, you can get back to Sturgis via I-90. When planning to ride on this route with a passenger, make sure you equip your bike with a plush passenger seat and  other comfort-enhancing aftermarket parts to make this ride memorable.

10. Sturgis to Black Hills Ghost Town Route

Time : 45 Minutes

Distance : 10.6 miles

The Sturgis to Black Hills Ghost Town Route travels through Galena, South Dakota, the location of many abandoned mining towns. Galena was founded during 1876 as a result of the gold rush, but it was later abandoned and became a ghost town. Galena is located near Deadwood with only a few inhabitants living in small homes in the Black Hills and who help teach tourists about the history of the region.

To reach Galena from Sturgis, head south on I-90 Junction Avenue towards Shepherd Street. Continue following this road until you get on Vanocker Canyon Road. Turn right onto County Highway 4 or Galena Road. Park your motorcycle to take a stroll in Galena, enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Black Hills, and learn about the people who inhabited this town. The locals have preserved the gold and silver mines in the town. There is also a cemetery that you can visit.

To return to Sturgis, ride north on Galena Road until you reach Vanocker Canyon Road. Ride for 3-4 miles before turning left onto Junction Avenue. Continue following this road until you reach I-90, and eventually Sturgis.

11. Jewel Cave Ride

Time : 4.5 Hours

Distance : 146 miles

The Jewel Cave Ride is one of the longest routes you can do during the Sturgis Rally. Most riders avoid this route due to its long distance. However, the Jewel Cave Ride is the perfect route for anyone looking to spend time on less traveled roads. This route cuts through Buckhorn and New Castle in Wyoming. In addition, you get to explore Custer and Hill City in South Dakota. Popular attractions include Jewel Cave National Monument and Crazy Horse Monument. To travel this route, you need at least intermediate riding skills. If open, you will get to see the third longest cave in the world at Jewel Cave National Park.

From Sturgis, head towards Deadwood via Route 14. Once you reach Deadwood, make sure to refuel your bike. Next, get on US Highway 385 to reach Jewel Cave National Park.

Reading next

2023 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Campground Passes Guide
Best Places to Stay During the 2023 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.