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The rumbling roar of motorcycles echoes down the streets as an eye-popping procession of bikes winds through downtown Sturgis. Each year, about half a million people descend on the tiny town (population 6,500) for one of the most spectacular motorcycle events anywhere. It all started in 1938 with the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club and nine racers. Beginning the first full week in August, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally has become world famous for its bikes, races, vendors and top entertainers. Cruising is the main pastime at the rally. Four rows of cycles line Main Street for blocks as an engine thumping parade of motorcycles cruises by to ...

The rumbling roar of motorcycles echoes down the streets as an eye-popping procession of bikes winds through downtown Sturgis. Each year, about half a million people descend on the tiny town (population 6,500) for one of the most spectacular motorcycle events anywhere. It all started in 1938 with the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club and nine racers. Beginning the first full week in August, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally has become world famous for its bikes, races, vendors and top entertainers. Cruising is the main pastime at the rally. Four rows of cycles line Main Street for blocks as an engine thumping parade of motorcycles cruises by to see and be seen. For miles around, the hills are alive with black leather bikers, glitzy touring cycles, custom choppers and other two-wheeled motor vehicles. Founded in August 1876, Sturgis was named for a commander at nearby Fort Meade Cavalry Post, Samuel D. Sturgis, whose son, Lt. J.G. Sturgis, was killed with General George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn. The town also was the home of a legendary Black Hill’s character. A cigar-smoking, gun-toting card shark, Poker Alice ran one of the rowdiest bars and brothels in the Old West. She is buried in St. Aloysius Cemetery in Sturgis. Her home is now a bed and breakfast.

Jackie Finch
About the Expert

Jackie Sheckler Finch has written several guidebooks, including The Unofficial Guide to Campgrounds in the Great Lakes States, and four times she was named Travel Writer of the Year by Midwest Travel Writers Association.

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    First full week in August for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally