Devil’s Tower National Park: A Visit During Sturgis Bike Rally 2006

I often find myself reminiscing about the experiences I had while working with SoBe because it was one of my favorite jobs. We were ambitious employees who sometimes took our days off and made them into sampling events, like Sturgis Motorcycle Rally week in 2006.

There is nothing quite like the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota.  More than 500,000 motorcycles pile into the city from every corner of the world. For hundreds of miles surrounding this area, cars were outnumbered 100 to 1. The group rides to Devil’s Tower and through the Black Hills were amazing, but that was just a taste of what we would see in the heart of Sturgis, SD.

We started our trip in Rock Springs, WY. After the county fair promotion we did, we made our way to Deadwood for a quick tour of some of the wild west’s historical spots known to famous gunslingers and gamblers like Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.

The discovery of gold in the Black Hills in 1874 set off one of the last great gold rushes in the country. In 1876, miners moved into the northern Black Hills. That’s where they came across a gulch full of dead trees and a creek full of gold…and Deadwood was born.

Practically overnight, the tiny gold camp boomed into a town that played by its own rules that attracted outlaws, gamblers and gunslingers along with the gold seekers. Wild Bill Hickok was one of those men who came looking for fortune. But just a few short weeks after arriving, he was gunned down while holding a poker hand of aces and eights – forever after known as the Dead Man’s Hand.

Calamity Jane also made a name for herself in these parts and is buried next to Hickok in Mount Moriah Cemetery. Other legends, like Potato Creek Johnny, Seth Bullock and Al Swearengen, created their legends and legacies in this tiny Black Hills town.

Then off to Sturgis to see the main drag. Rows of chrome and leather-detailed bikes and scores of people lined the streets. We illegally handed out free SoBe drinks as we drove the bus through town. When we were out of drinks we headed for more historic sites. We saw the sun set behind Mt. Rushmore and caught a glimpse of Crazy Horse as we left the region that night.

If you like the wild west, history, National Parks or motorcycles, this is a must do. One thing to be sure of: do not expect to stay anywhere near this area in August without an advance reservation. I’d say at least 6 months in advance. Camping is plentiful and inns and cabins are available then too.

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