Willie G’s Places to See: Black Hills, South Dakota

It’s that time of year again… Sturgis!  I always tell people if you can only go to one rally a year, make sure it’s Sturgis.  The two week event is truly one of the best in the country and offers something for everyone.  You can party at the Full Throttle Saloon, Buffalo Chip, and even Main St with a 100,000 of your closest friends or walk through 100’s of vendors at Black Hills Harley-Davidson, but don’t let the mystique of Sturgis fool you.  Some of the best things to do and see during the Sturgis Rally are located in the Black Hills of South Dakota just south of Rapid City.  Below is a list of my “Must See” destinations in the Black Hills.



Tunnel on Iron Mountain Road, If you were traveling in the opposite direction you would see the faces of Mount Rushmore framed perfectly.

1.) Iron Mountain Road

US-16A, also known as Iron Mountain Road, is one of two “Must Ride” roads if you’re heading out to Sturgis.  The 17-mile ride is one of the most scenic in the Black Hills and features 314 curves.  The “Pigtail Bridges” and three granite tunnels that were cut to frame Mount Rushmore in the distance really steal the show here.  Make sure to take this ride in the early morning to avoid heavy traffic from rally goers and sightseers.



There’s a reason they call it the “Wildlife” Loop. Watch for Burros.

2.) Custer State Park Wildlife Loop


Herd of Buffalo along the Custer State Park Wildlife Loop.

Twisting and turning its way through the prairie and ponderosa pine-filled hills, the Wildlife Loop Road at Custer State Park is a truly unique riding experience.  Believe me, nothing will test your riding skills like idling through a herd of 500 buffalo crossing the road.  Buffalo aren’t the only wildlife you’ll see; pronghorn, elk, burros, white-tailed and Mule deer, and even a few Big Horn Sheep make this a ride you won’t soon forget.





Check the Crazy Horse Memorial website for a schedule of blasts that will take place during the rally.

3.) Crazy Horse Memorial

Although the project was originally initiated in 1929, sculpting of the Crazy Horse Memorial did not start until 1948 and is still far from completion.  Although progress is slow, the memorial keeps me going back year after year to see what’s changed.  Once completed the memorial will be over 500 ft. high and 600 ft. wide, making it the largest sculpture in the world.


4.) Needles Highway

South Dakota Highway 87, known as “Needles Highway,” is the second “Must Ride” road on our list. Located in the Black Hills, it encompasses 14 miles of narrow, windy roads and tunnels that are a motorcyclists dream.  Stop and take in the scenery at Sylvan Lake and the Needle’s Eye to really get a sense of what the Black Hills are all about.



Follow “S Dakota 244” past Mount Rushmore for this quick photo op.

5.) Mount Rushmore


Mount Rushmore just before sunset.

No list of places to ride during Sturgis would be complete without Mount Rushmore. I’m sure that Gutzon Borglum and his son Lincoln never envisioned the massive parking structure or gift shop at the base of Mount Rushmore when they began carving the sculpture in 1927.  Nonetheless, there is something surreal about seeing the 60-foot likenesses of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln during an early morning sunrise.  It’s something every American should experience at least once.


Did your favorite make it on the list? Comment and let us know some of your favorite places to ride in the Black Hills.

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