The Top-13 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Riding Routes

Last Updated by Nate Wek on
The Travel Channel

This is a big year for South Dakota, as it’s the 75th anniversary for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. According to ‘Ultimate Motorcycle Rides,’ here are the top-13 routes to travel in the black hills during the rally this year. For directions and more information on all these routes, click here.

Spearfish Canyon Ride

Spearfish Canyon Ride.png

Mileage: Approximately 50 miles

Time: 2.5 hrs

Description: This is probably the most scenic ride in the Black Hills area. It includes: Bridal Veil Falls, Spearfish Falls, Little Crow Peak, Homestake Gold Mine, Black Hills Mining Museum, The Hippie Hole and the “must see” Devils Bathtub.

Vanocker Canyon Ride

Vanocker Canton Ride.png

Mileage: approximately 80 miles

Time:  approximately 2 hours

Ride description: Leave the crowds behind on this hidden beauty, some say it’s better than “Dragons Tail” in Tennessee. This ride has nice turns and twists, but not as tight as some others in the Black Hills allowing the opportunity to catch some of the amazing views. This ride also takes you to the western side of Rapid City, then along Sheridan Lake Road and also into historic Deadwood.

Hot Springs Ride

Hot Springs Ride.png

Mileage: Approximately 75 miles

Time: 3.5 hours depending on stops.

Description: This ride is less hilly but as equally beautiful and filled with prehistoric wonderment.  You will find a few challenges as you ride along, especially from Stockade Lake south through Custer State Park and Wind Cave National Park to Hwy 385. The rest of the ride is just as fun with it’s winding curves and a few places to open it up a little bit.

Nemo Road Ride

Nemo Road Ride.png

Mileage:  Approximately 90 miles

Time:  Approximately 2 hours

Ride description: This ride includes a very picturesque ride through Boulder Canyon between Sturgis and Deadwood along with an awe inspiring trip down Nemo Road to the little resort town of Nemo.  You will also pass through the old mining “Ghost Town” of Roubaix along the route. Norris Peak Road and Rim Rock Hwy will give your riding skills a small test.  There are pit-stop opportunities in the small towns of Blackhawk, Summerset and Piedmont.

Devils Tower Ride

Devils Tower Ride.png

Mileage: Approximately 110 miles

Time: 2.5 hours

Description: This is one of the most popular rides in the Black Hills.  Devils Tower is probably one of the most famous and recognizable natural icons in the world.  There are some very nice stops along the way and the ride itself is full of nice long sweeping curves.

Needles Highway Ride

Needles Highway Ride.png

Mileage:  Approximately 67 miles.

Time:  3.5 hours

Description: This spectacular ride could be the most popular ride in all of the Black Hills area and depending on you riding skill, definitely one of the best rides.  It is full of switchbacks, tight curves and pigtails all while climbing and descending almost 2,000 ft. The Iron Mountain Road section of this ride is 17 miles long and contains 314 curves, 14 switchbacks 3 pigtails and 3 tunnels that designed to frame Mount Rushmore. You will also run through Custer State Park, where if your lucky, you can see the “buffalo roam” up close - but bring your binoculars just incase. Keystone and Hill City are the closest towns near this ride, but there are a few other places to stop and grab a cold Sarsaparilla. It also includes a stop at Sylvan Lake which has incredible views of the lake and plenty of trails for hiking if you are the adventurous type.

The Badlands Ride

The Badlands Ride.png

Mileage: Approximately 162 miles

Time: 4.5 hours, depending on stops

Description: Badlands National Park contains some of the most spectacular scenery of the Black Hills with deep gorges and tall spires. This ride will take you through Rapid City, Wall and Buffalo Gap National Grasslands.

Bear Butte Ride

Bear Butte Ride.png

Mileage: Approximately 85 miles

Time: Approximately 3.5 hours, depending on stops

Description: This attractive ride includes Bear Butte State Park, which is an important historical landmark for both Native American Indians and early European Pioneers. In Bear Butte State Park there is a beautiful hiking trail that leads to the 4,426 ft. summit. The ride also includes the Rocky Point State recreation area at the Belle Fourche Reservoir.  There are many places to stop along the way including the towns of Nisland, Belle Fourche, (“bell foosh”, which is French for beautiful fork because the town sits on the forks of the Redwater River) and the Belle Fourche River. Belle Fourche is also home to The Center of the Nation Monument, designating it as the geographical center of the United States. Whitewood, which is an old railroad town founded by the Chicago and North Western Railways is also along the way. There are more local establishments in St Onge, which is a western cattle town.

Playhouse Road Ride

Playhouse Road Ride.jpg

Mileage:  Approximately 88 miles

Time: Approximately 2 hours

Description: this ride includes some less traveled roads around the Hill City, Keystone and Rockerville areas.  It also includes a nice little jaunt down Playhouse Road, which has just enough curves and hills to make it fun and interesting. The old mining ghost town of Rockerville and Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns are also great stops that make this ride worth the trip.  If you’re up for a quick dip, a stop at Center Lake is a must.

Alzada Road Ride

Alzada Road Ride.png

Mileage: Approximately 120 miles

Time:  2.5 hours, depending on stops

Description: A fun little ride through all three types of landscape the area has to offer. The Bear Lodge Mountains, some nice rolling hills and some typical area plains encompass the terrain you will be riding through. This ride takes you into the three states of Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota. This is ride is typically not very crowded.

Sundance Road Ride

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Mileage:  Approximately 118 miles

Time:  Approximately 3 hours

Description: This ride runs through the historic gold mining towns of Lead and Central City. It also winds through Spearfish, SD and few places other places to stop such as Horton, Four Corners and Buckhorn. The destination, however, is the fun little town of Sundance, WY.

Rochford Road Ride

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Mileage:  Approximately 75 miles

Time:  Approximately 2 hours

Description: The half of this ride that follows along the well-traveled Hwy 385 is so scenic it is almost impossible to see the same thing twice.  The other half is less traveled, but is loaded with unbelievable panoramic views and it runs between Rochford and Deerfield – which is 7 miles of gravel road so take your time and be cautious.

Jewel Cave Ride

Jewel Cave Ride.png

Mileage: Approximately 146 miles

Time:  Approximately 4.5 hours, depending on stops

Description: Because this ride is one of the longest, it tends to be less crowded and makes for a perfect full day ride that’s nice and quiet. The ride will take you through Buckhorn, WY, New Castle, WY, Custer City, SD, Hill City, SD and the tourist “must sees” of Crazy Horse Memorial and Jewel Cave National Monument.

All ride distances and descriptions are courtesy of ‘Ultimate Motorcycle Rides' information. For more information on all of these routes, click here

What route is your favorite to ride? Are there any routes we missed?

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