Sturgis Motorcycle Rally 2021: How the City Is Preparing for Mass Influx of Visitors

by Madison Miller

We’re one weekend away from a heavily anticipated event for all motorcycle enthusiasts. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally 2021 is starting on Friday, August 6, and then will wrap up on Sunday, August 15. Like always, the rally will take place in Sturgis, South Dakota, and it’s celebrating its 81st anniversary.

The popular motorcycle-centric event has been around since 1938. The rally involved racing and hill-climbing events, as well as incredibly breathtaking rides through the Black Hills. Popular scenic drives involve seeing Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse Mountain, and Devils Tower.

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is actually the largest motorcycle rally in the world. While the ride has been the most centric part of the event since Pappy Hoel started the event, nearby towns pull out all the stops. Races, concerts, and rides will dominate the South Dakota areas affected by the rally.

In order to accommodate for the influx of visitors, the city is preparing for all the traffic and people soon to flood in.

According to the Black Hills Pioneer, the South Dakota Department of Transportation is implementing a number of temporary traffic signals. South Dakota Highway 34 will have multiple new signals at the different intersections.

You’ll encounter other traffic changes on Highway 44, Highway 16, I-90, as well as S.D. Highway 34/79.

The traffic changes will be all throughout the Sturgis area and will be in effect throughout the duration of the motorcycle rally. If you live or are traveling in the area, it’s best to just drive with special consideration and leave extra time to get where you’re going.

There will also be message boards and speed trailers that will be at various locations to explain traffic conditions, report on accidents, share extreme weather concerns, and share any other important updates.

Last Year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

There is a lot of traffic expected for the event, which will likely have a large gathering.

Last year, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally did not pause despite the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to impact the world. There were still tens of thousands of motorcycle lovers showing up to the small South Dakota town.

According to a New York Times article from last year, there were about 250,000 people expected at the rally. This made the motorcycle event one of the country’s largest public gatherings since the first of the COVID-19 cases emerged in the U.S.

For many bikers, Sturgis is home to family. Chuck Chamberlain from Loveland, Colorado, shared his experience with the long-running rally.

He said, “I’ve spent every birthday since I was 24 here. My first year was 1986. This is my family. We communicate for the rest of the year. My children come here, my brother comes here, my daughter met her husband here. My daughter got married here.”