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How the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Works


Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Events
Bikers sit on their motorcycles as they wait for a concert to start at the Buffalo Chip Campground at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, S.D.
Bikers sit on their motorcycles as they wait for a concert to start at the Buffalo Chip Campground at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, S.D.
AP Photo/Morry Gash

While many bikers make long road trips to come to Sturgis, the events that are held during the week definitely don't disappoint. The events and races are divided into several areas in and around the town of Sturgis, which is broken up into three zones. The zones are: the Sturgis Zone, the Bear Butte Zone and the Black Hills Zone [source: The Sturgis Rally Guide Book].

The Sturgis Zone is the primary hub of the rally and Main Street is the place to be for the best people and bike watching. The Sturgis Rally Guide Book recommends visiting Main Street at least one evening out of all the nights at the rally. Unlike some of the other areas, Sturgis doesn't have any major concerts, but many rally attendees visit the area for the bars, bike shops and tattoo parlors. Sturgis also provides motorcycle races during the rally as well.

The Bear Butte Zone, just east of the city of Sturgis is where the rally holds its major concerts. The Buffalo Chip and Rockin' the Rally are the two main venues for the concerts. Performers at these concerts have included Tom Petty, Keith Urban and Kid Rock. For the 70th anniversary, the rally will host ZZ Top as one of the main headliners [source: Buffalo Chip]. This zone is also known for having rowdy campgrounds and for hosting entertainment shows close to where the campgrounds are so that attendees can consume alcohol but not have to ride their bikes to the shows. The Bear Butte zone hosts motorcycle and car drag races during the week as well.

In addition to the concerts, many bikers come to the rally for the scenic rides, which are found in the Black Hills Zone. This area of South Dakota and Wyoming includes Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands and several monuments including the Crazy Horse Monument. This area of the Sturgis rally is quieter and more secluded than the other two zones.

Motorcycle hill climbs are also part of the rally, where bikers compete by racing their bikes up steep inclines. The rally also hosts the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building, a favorite event among attendees. So, for bikers who are looking for more than just scenic rides, the Sturgis rally provides a full array of entertainment that could rival Las Vegas.


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