The Black Hills of South Dakota are famous worldwide for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Hundreds of thousands of visitors rumble into the region each August for this larger-than-life gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts, celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2015.
While the festivities of the event intrigue and conjure up a variety of images for those who ponder about the event, it is the one-of-a-kind riding experiences that contribute to bringing motorcycle enthusiasts back to this area year after year. The entire Black Hills and Badlands region offers picturesque and exhilarating riding experiences, but its a stellar few that continually draw riders' accolades, whether locals or first-time visitors to the area, and here is your itinerary for the must-do Black Hills motorcycle rides. All rides are rated by the A.B.A.T.E of South Dakota Foundation on a scale of 1 (easy) - 5 (difficult).
Devils Tower Ride
Ride into Wyoming via SD Highway 34/WY 24, which guides you along a two-lane scenic highway through Belle Fourche, Aladdin, Alva and Hulett on the way to our nation’s first National Monument, Devils Tower. Loop back via US Highway 14/I-90, either through Moorcroft or Sundance, back into South Dakota.
A.B.A.T.E Skill Rating: 2
Spearfish Canyon Ride
Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, Highway 14A out of Spearfish, is a picturesque and leisurely ride through thousand-foot-high limestone palisades along Spearfish Creek. Enjoy the deep canyon’s scenery, including a roadside view of Bridal Veil Falls, wildlife and sweeping curves. To continue the trip, you might like to experience US Highway 85 into Wyoming or the Black Hills Parkway, US Highway 385 via Lead, which connects many of the scenic rides throughout the region.
A.B.A.T.E Skill Rating: 3
Custer State Park Ride
Custer State Park, along with the Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road, is a favorite among riders and considered by many to be the most scenic ride in the area. Iron Mountain’s pigtail turns, switchbacks and tunnels that frame Mt. Rushmore were created so visitors could enjoy the beauty of the Black Hills. Ride the park’s wildlife loop to view diverse scenery and wildlife, including around 1,300 head of wild buffalo before hitting the Needles Highway’s granite spires and sharp turns.
While in the area, you’ll want to experience our one-of-a-kind experiences at Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Crazy Horse Memorial. These memorials are surrounded by stimulating rides along Highways 16, 244 and 385. Difficulty rating for this ride varies depending on the segment of road.
A.B.A.T.E Skill Rating: 3 - 5
Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway Ride
Head east to Badlands National Park with stops at the many picture-worthy scenic overlooks, including Pinnacles along Highway 240, the Badlands Loop Road. Consider a trip back via Highway 44 with views of the southern Badlands and Buffalo Gap National Grasslands.
A.B.A.T.E Skill Rating: 3
Other rides that should be considered for your trip itinerary include Boulder Canyon between the rally’s hometown of Sturgis and historic Deadwood; Highway 44 west out of Rapid City to Norris Peak and Nemo Road; Vanocker Canyon out of Sturgis; Highway 385 south through Hill City, past Crazy Horse and to Custer and Hot Springs; and Highway 17 to Rochford.
With so many amazing experiences to be had along these riding routes, you will surely plan to come back to this region time and again. To view these and more great Black Hills and Badlands rides, along with their skill ratings, view the Black Hills and Badlands region motorcycle map.