Experience the perfect long weekend in Sturgis this fall. Fewer visitors, vibrant changing colors, and several epic festivals are not to miss! This choose-your-own-adventure style itinerary is meant to be flexible, so that you and your traveling companions can craft the ideal trip based on your interests while experiencing the best of Sturgis all the while. Go ahead: cast for brown trout, mountain bike for miles, experience agritourism, and so much more in Sturgis, South Dakota.
This story was created in partnership with Sturgis Chamber of Commerce.
Day One: Experience Fall Colors, Sturgis Style
Loosen up stiff road trip legs with a classic Sturgis adventure on day one. Nestled against the northern perimeter of the 1.2-million acre Black Hills National Forest, this corner of South Dakota does not disappoint. Hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and climbing are all within striking distance and perfect this time of year. With some trailheads within Sturgis city limits, you could easily fit more than one sport in a single day!
Sturgis is quickly becoming a well known destination for mountain bikers, and it’s easy to see why. To grasp just how many miles of singletrack Sturgis has to offer, you’ll need to pour yourself a pumpkin spice beverage and take some time studying their interactive trail map. With so much choice, it’s hard to figure out where to begin! Experienced mountain bikers might opt to shuttle the highly rated 11.2-mile Centennial Trail with sweeping mountain views, while beginners might stick to the paved Sturgis bike path network. You could easily spend an entire day riding, or fit in a quick lap before the sun sets if you are short on time.
Not interested in life on two wheels? Lace up your hiking boots instead. The nearby 7th Cavalry Trail System in Fort Meade Recreation Area has even more non-motorized trails and is less than two miles out of town. For those looking to go farther afield, Bear Butte State Park is a beautiful option. Take in the golden autumnal grasslands leading up the flanks of Bear Mountain, also known as “Mato Paha” to the Lakota and “Noahvose” to the Cheyenne. Take the trail to the top of this sacred mountain. From the summit, you’ll be able to see four states!
If your idea of a good time involves serenity and scenery, it’s time to cast a line. The Black Hills offer plenty of places to go fishing, all of which are surrounded by miles of wilderness. (In fact, this interactive map makes it seem like the entire state of South Dakota is a fishing hole.) No matter which creek you decide on, changing aspens are sure to add a pop of color to your time casting in the Black Hills.
It’s no secret that Sturgis is a world-class destination for climbing. The Needles in Custer State Park are not to miss for serious climbers, and Spearfish Canyon is another great crag with plenty of options for sport climbing. Plus, the latter is known as one of the best local places to find explosions of fall colors!
That evening, indulge in some South Dakota hospitality in the form of delicious food and comfortable lodging. Sturgis specializes in American comfort food and hearty portions, so rest assured you will be well-fueled during your entire stay.
Day Two: Explore the Heart and Soul of Sturgis
Part of what makes Sturgis such a unique destination are its charismatic events, like the world-famous Motorcycle Rally. If you planned ahead–and we encourage you to–the second day of your trip might coincide with the Sturgis Fall Festival. Taking place on September 25, 2022, this event is ideal for those traveling with kids (and those who like behaving like kids while on vacation). This Oktoberfest-style event will feature hay rides, pumpkin bowling, live music, and a finger-licking good chili and pie cookoff. Alternatively, you could also plan your trip around the famed Offroad Rally in early September. Traveling at a later date? Coordinate your visit with Halloween!
Otherwise, spend the morning taking a self-guided tour of the downtown Sturgis ARTWALK. You may also enjoy stopping by one of the many museums in town, such as the Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame, or the Car Museum. There’s even the Old Ford Meade Cavalry Museum.
Later that afternoon (if you aren’t partaking in an event or festival), head to Vanocker Canyon to photograph fall foliage. You could also venture out to any of the other eight parks, memorials, and monuments surrounding Sturgis. With temperatures averaging between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit (15-21 degrees Celsius) in September and October, you’ll be able to explore these natural wonders comfortably until the sun sets.
Day Three: Vineyards, Agritourism, and Brunch
Kick off your final day in Sturgis with an eggs benedict at Belle Joli Winery, or any of Sturgis’ other satisfying breakfast joints. Then, discover the blooming local agritourism scene. This new take on tourism is part outdoor activity, part cultural exploration. And fall is a particularly busy time for farms of all sizes. After all, it’s harvest season!
Join in the bounty by taking a tour at Belle Joli after breakfast, complete with a customized wine tasting experience. Or, journey to nearby Bear Butte Gardens Organic Farm, where you can pick up some fresh produce. Whatever you do, don’t miss DesJarlais Farms, Apiary, and Vineyards. This multi-generational operation is a fantastic place to sip on a glass of wine while browsing their orchard and gardens. Because these agritourism experiences are new, be sure to call ahead to confirm you’re interested in a tour.
If you have enough time, we recommend taking one more scenic drive before departing for home. (Highway 385 to historic Deadwood is particularly photogenic!) Practically any direction you travel, you will be treated with a beautiful bouquet of autumnal colors to send you off at the end of your trip.