Near the end of our last trip to this part of the country, in 2010, we stopped at Custer State Park, camping there a couple of nights. Unfortunately, we arrived during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the world. While we had no desire to to go to Sturgis, one of the very popular activities adversely affected us:
The Black Hills Run is a route favored by motorcycle riders, across the Black Hills from Deadwood to Custer State Park, South Dakota. It reached the height of its popularity between 1939 and 1941. The popularity of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally attracted additional attention to the route in recent years. The pine forested mountains of the Black Hills make for a unique scenic motorcycle ride. (Wikipedia)
There were just to many motorcycles on the roads and many of the places we would have stopped were too crowded for us.
Before our trip, I intended to check when the rally was going to be, but forgot among all the other things that needed to be done. I even thought about it along the way.
I guess I just rationalized it away, thinking that it had been September of 2010 that we had been stopped. Therefore, the rally this year was still weeks off.
We started seeing motorcycles heading away from the Black Hills while we were still in Nebraska. I started to get an uneasy feeling.
Maybe it was already over for his year and these were stragglers….
As we went through Hot Springs, South Dakota, heading for Wind Cave National Park and the campground, we saw quite a few more bikes, but nothing like we saw four years ago.
Well, it turned out that we pretty much nailed our time in the area to match the rally schedule. Looking back at photos from that trip on a portable hard drive, it turns out our trip in 2010 was earlier in the year than I thought. With the contracting work I had been doing, most of our trips had ended up being in September. In 2010, it was July and August, with our visit to the black hills falling in the first week of the month – just like this year.
Fortunately, most of the biker activity didn’t penetrate down into Wind Cave National Park. Also we were able to visit some places early in the day before the bikers got there.
Unless you’re into motorcycles, the first week of August is the wrong time to visit the Black Hills of South Dakota.
The following short video shows some cycles going through a narrow tunnel on Needles Highway in Custer State Park.