Sturgis Rally FAQ

1. What is the biggest bike rally in the USA?
The Sturgis Rally held every year at the beginning of August is the largest in the USA. It brings in 500,000 riders on average, with the highest around 740,000 in 2015 for the 75th anniversary rally.

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2. When was the first rally?
The Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club started in 1936, with an official American Motorcycle Association (AMA) charter in 1937. 1937 was the first year races were held, but there was not an “official rally”. It was called the Black Hills Motorcycle Classic. AMA began promoting the racing events; which started the now famous Rally in Sturgis on August 14, 1938. That weekend celebration in 1938 had a lineup of only nine racers and a small audience watching the races. The Rally has been held every year since 1938, with the exception of four years during World War II and celebrated its 75th Anniversary in 2015. Find out more on our History of Rally page.

So why is 2021 the 81st Rally? (The numbers don’t add up!)
Because the Gypsies advertised the ‘1st Annual Rally’ in 1938. But after WWII, they started counting the unofficial/unorganized rally gathering in ’37. So ’37, ’38, ’39, ’40, ’41 were the first 5 years. When the Rally resumed in 1946, it was the 6th Annual Rally, therefore 2015 was the 75th.

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3. How many bikers go to Sturgis?
This small town of around 7,000 grows to more than 500,000; but it is not just contained in Sturgis. The whole Black Hills area and anywhere in 100mi+ radius has an increase in riders.

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4. How did Sturgis get its name?
Sturgis is in honor of the Civil War Union General Samuel D. Sturgis.

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5. When are the future Sturgis Rally & Black Hills Rally dates?
Check out the Rally Dates page. The Rally officially starts on the first Friday in August and runs for 10 days. Many riders attend the week before or after the official rally week.

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6. Is the Sturgis Rally & Black Hills Rally near Mt Rushmore and Crazy Horse Mountain?
Yes. There are many great area attractions and events with scenic rides between including Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Devils Tower, Badlands, Custer State Park, National Forest, lakes, reservoirs, creeks, and numerous caves. For more information please check out the National & State Parks and Monuments page and these other links.

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7. What do the bikers do at the Sturgis Rally & Black Hills Rally?
Besides the great attractions including Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Devils Tower, Badlands, Custer State Park, National Forest, lakes, reservoirs, creeks, and numerous caves. There are races, rides, runs, concerts, contests and vendors of all kinds. For more information please check out these links.

Popular Sturgis Activities page
Events page
Rides page

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8. Where should we stay?
First you need to decide if you want a tent campground, RV resort, cabin, motel, hotel, vacation rental or a local’s house. All of these are available in Sturgis and the whole Black Hills area. Camping is probably the most popular. Whatever you decide you will want to make sure you plan ahead and make reservations months to a year in advance. Find a place to stay on our Sleep page.

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9. Where can I get concert info and buy tickets during the Sturgis Rally?
10. What are the helmet and other motorcycle laws in South Dakota?
You can find the full Motor Vehicles Codified Laws and the Motorcycle Regulation Section on the South Dakota’s Legislature website.

Some of the basics are below.

  • Helmets: not required if 18 years or older, minors are required to have a DOT approved helmet. A person riding in an enclosed cab attached to a motorcycle does not have to wear a safety helmet.
  • Eye protection: all operators of all motorcycles, including mopeds, must have either a windshield, glasses, goggles or face shield of safety glass or plastic which meets the minimum standards as required by the South Dakota Department of Public Safety. Can not be tinted to reduce the light below 35% when the headlight is in use.
  • Headlamp: must have one but no more than two headlamps.
  • Tail Lamp: must have at least one which, when lighted, emits a red light visible for a distance of 500 feet.
  • Handlebars: must be below the shoulder height of the person operating the motorcycle while astride the seat.
  • Muffler: must at all times be equipped with a muffler in good working order and in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise.
  • Passenger: must have a passenger seat, and there are no age restrictions.
  • Muffler: must at all times be equipped with a muffler in good working order and in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise.
  • Lane Splitting: is not permitted.
  • Riding Abreast: motorcycles may ride two abreast in a single lane, but no more. They may not pass other vehicles in the same lane except motorcycles and bicycles.

Check out the Rally-Laws page for list of citations and fees.

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11. I have heard the Sturgis Rally is very crazy, is that true?
Such a large amount of people descending on a small geographical area creates very large crowds, which can seem pretty crazy and can definitely be overwhelming.  Bikes line both sides of the streets and down the middle, and not just in Sturgis.  There are people in strange outfits, women walking around with VERY LITTLE on, and hundreds of industry, retail and food vendors packed in every space.  Lodging, restaurants, gas stations and stores are overflowing throughout the Black Hills.  Be prepared for lines and higher prices than normal.  The number of riders and accidents on the roads is also crazy, so drive defensively, sober and with a helmet.  The police are present and keep the Rally well under control and do give tickets for a variety of infractions.  Some places and events have more of a party atmosphere than others, so do your research.  The Sturgis Rally can be as crazy or relaxing as you want depending on

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12. What is the Police enforcement like?
Yes, the police are present and enforcing the law, but they do not harass the bikers.  Tickets are commonly given for public intoxication, open containers, illegal parking, speeding and other traffic violations, possession of illegal substances (FYI: Cannabis is not legal in any form in SD).  Use common sense, read signs, be courteous, follow the laws or you will get a ticket.  Check out the Rally-Laws page for a list of citations and fees.

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