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Life in the Sturgis Mega Campgrounds – Sturgis, South Dakota

Written by  September 1, 2012

After years of covering other rallies and events, Donna and I decided to travel with the rest of the Cycle Connections Magazine crew to cover the Black Hills Rally in Sturgis for the first time. Although the magazine had a house rented out in the countryside, we decided to get first-hand experience and coverage of the mega campgrounds that are like their own cities during the rally. So, Donna pulled our small camp trailer while I rode the bike for our first trip to Sturgis. We set up our camp in Glencoe Camp Resort, and the famous Buffalo Chip Campground that was less than a mile down the road graciously provided me complete access for this photojournalism project. With the Full Throttle Saloon sitting halfway between these two famous campgrounds, it makes for an exciting neighborhood.

Within a day after arrival, the campground felt like home and the people around us like family. We quickly made friends with bikers from Canada, California, etc., in our campground and partied with them the whole week. These huge campgrounds have stores, laundry facilities, restaurants, motorcycle repair shops, and concert venues all self-contained to make things convenient. You never had to look far to find something to do or to see the biggest names in music doing concerts right there in one of the campgrounds. John Michael Montgomery, Blue Oyster Cult, Sugarland, Journey, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and many others were playing at one of the two campgrounds with others such as Jackyl and Molly Hatchet playing at the Full Throttle across the street. Glencoe offered the famous “titty row” which is like combining Bourbon Street and Duvall Street, then adding a little biker flair with the occasional burnout. This almost mile-long stretch of road through the campground comes alive each night with a rolling party of debauchery with camps set up along the road offering shots, beads, Mardi Gras masks, etc., to the exhibitionists having fun traveling up and down the road. You can and will see anything on this stretch of road at night from jet-powered bar stools to a preacher that brings out a Bible and blesses women’s boobs using bourbon for holy water.

The biggest and most famous campground of all, the Buffalo Chip, offers other entertainment options, unique vendors, and facilities. The Chip contains an area known as Bikini Beach where you can swim, nap, sunbathe, play on the rope swing, or enjoy the slide provided by one of the vendors fitting to a slide, Biker Lube Personal Lubricant. You can also partake in such unique sports as midget bowling where you actually slide a midget down the lane into the pins! And of course there are the endless choices of food, drink, concerts, comedians, performance artists, etc.

The Chip is known for the biggest concert events in Sturgis. A good example was the big night with Sugarland opening for Lynyrd Skynyrd. Either of these bands is and would be the headliner anyplace else, but the Chip had them together on one night. Combine all this great music with the fun crowd and a few stripper poles provided by Strip Club Choppers thrown in, and you have one great party. We had so much fun with the two campgrounds doing this article, that we are getting a bigger camp trailer to do it again next year!

By Doc Lonnie Blum with Explorer Photography