Sturgis Motorcycle Rally 2021: How ‘Yard Camping’ Has Become Massive Trend During Event

by Leanne Stahulak

With an expected 700,000 motorcycle enthusiasts pouring in for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, hotel rooms definitely filled up fast. But bikers don’t have to worry, because local residents have provided another, cheaper alternative for those who don’t snag a reservation.

Sturgis citizens started renting out their yards for tent camping. In most cases, visitors bring all their own camping gear and chairs, while the host provides access to their bathroom and other potential amenities. KOTA TV talked to one resident, Vinny Terranova, who’s been using his yard as a campground for eight years.

Every year, he said, he likes to improve the yard a little bit so that rally-goers can have “a safe and fun place to stay.” For a small fee, folks attending the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally can stay in Terranova’s yard while he provides food, showers, and refreshments.

For 40 years, Terranova has attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Once he finally settled down in the area, he decided to open up his yard to fellow motorcycle fans so they don’t have to spend a ton of money on a hotel. But he also enjoyed getting to talk to new people from all over the country.

“Cast of characters. A lot of people. We had one guy that walked across the United States. Businesspeople. We have musicians. Cast of characters. It keeps it very interesting. There’s never a boring night,” Terranova told KOTA TV.

During the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Terranova organizes block parties because he’s so close to the downtown area. He told KOTA TV that it “feels like a little America” and that “the Rally and campground are part of the land of the free.”

Hotels and Campsites All Full Up for Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

A few weeks ago, Rapid City Journal reported on all the hotels and campgrounds being filled up in preparation for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The outlet talked to different owners and managers about the limited space.

Davis Dathe, general manager of Cambria Suites near Exit 61 on Interstate 90, said, “Every hotel is running full or near full every day right now. I would say in Rapid City and the whole Black Hills. It’s packed everywhere.”

Visit Rapid City CEO Julie Schmitz Jensen agreed, saying business is even better than pre-COVID in 2019. “We had an incredible January, February, March, and April,” she said. “I’m thrilled for the hotel industry and attractions and restaurants. The people that really did have a miserable 2020. They’re getting business back.”

But the campgrounds might be even busier, according to Black Hills Central Reservations CEO Susan Johnson. “The world is camping. Everybody’s bringing their toys to the Black Hills this summer, whether it’s campers, UTVs, bikes, canoes. It is one of America’s playgrounds and it’s been busy,” she said. “Everybody wants to be outside.”

And a good number of people did end up outside at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, staying in people’s yards for a far cheaper price.