One Ride You Must Take Before You Die

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BUFFALO-CHIP-ONE-RIDE-YOU-MUST-TAKE-200x200 Once you’ve ridden your motorcycle down a great stretch of highway, you understand the intimate connection that forms between biker and landscape. Ask any biker what their favorite ride is, and you won’t just hear how the pavement twists and turns. You’ll hear about the smell of the air, the sound of the breeze, the friendly faces at a roadside stop and countless other elements that create a memorable ride. The Sturgis Buffalo Chip® recently asked a group of seasoned riders about their best motorcycle rides, and to our surprise, many described the same location. So what is this place? Why is it special to so many? Keep reading to find out why, out of all the rides to take in the world, these riders’ favorite ride is the one you must take in your lifetime.

Rod Woodruff’s Favorite Ride

My favorite ride is the road through Spearfish Canyon. Exit 14 at I90 onto US 14 Scenic, make that first turn and the world is immediately better. Instantly it’s just me, the bike and a flowing mountain stream slowly, joyously winding our way between granite walls.

The pine, birch and aspen remind me I don’t ride to be in a hurry. Bridal Veil Falls and trout ponds beckon. So does the new creek flow around that 200-ton boulder that rolled into the creek two weeks after the highway engineer certified its perch was secure.

Sometimes I’ll stop and climb a mountaintop, and maybe peek into a cave on the canyon wall. Always it is necessary to take a little detour at Savoy, ride one mile to the pristine ponds immediately upstream from Roughlock Falls, see the Falls. Relax. This is as close as I’ll get to the Garden of Eden.

Rod Woodruff
Sturgis Buffalo Chip

Kristy Swanson’s Favorite Ride

Just west of Sturgis, SD on I-90 you’ll find a town called Spearfish and its magnificent Spearfish Canyon—a ride that is “the ride” for me. The first mile or two has long twisting turns and a little straightaway where riders take their place in the lane one after another. It’s here I start to feel that it’s not only myself and my friends, but a never-ending family of riders searching, enjoying and realizing together why they ride.

No speed is needed on this ride, and maybe that’s why I love it so much. The road and the scenery require each rider to slow down and enjoy the open air, the smell of the morning and the continuous sounds of crackling pipes. As we head through 22 miles of incredible cliffs and continuous twists, the sun stays slightly hidden behind the rock faces, only peering out every now and then, and the air becomes much, much cooler.

Riders stop everywhere on the side of the road. Some take photos of the cliff faces or Bridal Veil Falls. Others stop simply to rest and chat with fellow bikers. There’s always something new to see. With trees that overhang the road and a creek that runs almost the entire length of the ride, this is some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable.

The ride slowly comes to an end as we reach our destination, Cheyenne Crossing—the best breakfast place I’ve found while in Sturgis. The people are so friendly, the food is great and they even have fun games at the table to test your mind. The talk at the table is always about the memories created over the years of coming to a place where you’re treated as family. My day can now begin as this early morning adventure has given me a sense of why I ride.

Kristy Swanson

Dee Snider’s Favorite Ride

Being fortunate enough to have been to Sturgis and the Legendary Buffalo Chip many times, I’ve had the chance to cruise virtually all of the highways and biways the Black Hills have to offer. The Bad Lands, Custer State Park, Needles Highway, Iron Mountain Road, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse and all the smaller rides in between…I never tire of revisiting these incredible routes. To me they are what Sturgis and riding is all about. That and rockin’ out at the Buffalo Chip each night!

But my favorite run is one of the simpler ones: Spearfish Canyon. Maybe it’s because it was my first ride on my first chopper (literally delivered to me at Spearfish Airport), but there’s something about cruising that winding canyon road that just feels right. To get out early in the morning with my crew, before the traffic builds (Fortunately, by day two or three most of the bikers at Sturgis and the Chip are late risers.) and head down that canyon road is pure magic. And finishing it off with the best breakfast around at the Cheyenne Crossing Restaurant is just about as good as it gets!


Dee Snider
Twisted Sister

Rick Fairless’ Favorite Ride

I have ridden motorcycles all over this fine country of ours. If I had to pick my favorite place that I have ever ridden, I would have to say that place would be the Black Hills of South Dakota. I’ve been to the Black Hills (Sturgis) Rally for 27 years in a row, and there’s something that draws me back, year after year. I can’t quite tell you what it is, but I’ll try!

The Black Hills Rally is what motorcycling is all about to me. If God created the world to revolve around motorcycles what would it be like? It would be the Black Hills Rally every August! For one week a year I get to escape to a happy place with hundreds of thousands of knuckleheads just like me! It’s wonderful. Kinda scary, but wonderful. Ya see, the Black Hills is a sacred place for motorcycle riders from all over, and brother I don’t care where you’re from or what kind of motorcycle you ride, because up there in them Black Hills, we’re all the same.

As for my favorite road to ride? Well, it would have to be Spearfish Canyon. If you’ve ever ridden Spearfish Canyon, then you know why. If you haven’t, then I suggest you get your ass up there this coming August and you can ride with me and a half million of my closest pals!


Rick Fairless
Strokers Dallas

To learn about more great rides from well-traveled riders, be sure to subscribe to the Sturgis Rider® News Blog and read their upcoming article, Rides to Add to Your Bucket List.

Want to cross Spearfish Canyon off your bucket list? Now is your chance! Reserve your passes at the Buffalo Chip’s Motorcycle and Music Festival, and you can experience some of the world’s most scenic stretches of highway including Spearfish Canyon.

Now on Fix My Hog you can view America’s 58 National Parks video series.
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18 Responses to “One Ride You Must Take Before You Die”
  1. Robert

    I have to agree. Spearfish canyon is a ride that gets you ready for the rally. It wipes away all the cr
    ap you left at home. It turns the ride to sturgis from a two day ball bustin’, scorching ride. Into another adventure with your brothers from another mother. You hope you didn’t do the most bone head thing this year, so you don’t go down in infamy. I’ve rode spearfish canyon to one end, stopped for a “refreshment”. Saddled back up, we rode back down the canyon. Best advise I can give you, not just for Spearfish ride, but all of your black hills riding. Stop and talk with folks. Other riders, people working (not many locals hang around rally week. Too much money to be made renting out their house.). Make sure you stop in the mom&pops stores and other local businesses. That’s where you learn the most!

  2. Bruce Skinner
    Bruce Skinner

    I will definitely do this ride one day, sounds too good to miss. Having said that, my favorite ride is the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia, it winds around the coast of Cape Breton Island, and is just breath taking, as anyone that has made the ride will attest to. Cheers

  3. Billy K
    Billy K

    I have never been to Sturgis and have been contemplating making the journey this year from MI. After reading these favorites my mind is made up – See you in the hills!!

    • roadkingsrule

      You will be glad you went! Hopefully you’ll ride there (the only way to do it in my opinion, f*ck trailers) because getting there is half the fun. Every time I’ve gone to Sturgis, I’ve ridden at least 800 miles during the week, seeing all of the sites & attractions. There’s a lot of good riding & Deadwood is a cool place to hang out.

  4. donnyRay

    Spearfish was a good ride and I prefer it afterSturgis and it is not BUTT to BUTT riding. Being from Ohio I have headed east on most occasions and land on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We usually ride the W.Va. turnpike and hit the parkway in Winchester Va. Unbelievable switchbacks and scenic views! Close the ride out running the Tail of the Dragon. My favorite ride thus far but I’m still riding……

  5. Bob Smith
    Bob Smith

    Spearfish IS a sweet Ride, & although The Badlands are more scenic (IMO), Spearfish is definitely never coming off MY “Bike It List!” Cabot Trail is hit or miss, depending on Mother Nature. We spent a week up in the area & NEVER saw the sun. Tough to enjoy the scenery when you can’t see it.

  6. buffalochipsucks

    The only highlite of 2010 was taking second place in the Ratshole Bikeshow. My daughter will never return even though she rides a Customized Sportster and we are building a full on, ground up, Custom Harley for her new husband who is a veteran of 2 tours from Afganastan. He is disabled and won’t go cause of Ron and the wonderful crew Obama is always only gonna be second! Nuff of the rant, will be in Sturgis next year with my Award winning softail, my new Orange county bobber, my just finishing up West Coast Chopper, and my bagger. But the Chip…….nahhhhhhhhh. A 6ft hole in the ground would be more inviting!

    • Ray saenz
      Ray saenz

      Been riding all my life…America has much to offer and I have been to every state in the union but you have to head south to enjoy what riding hard and packed is all about…South America!! Where every day is a holiday and every meal is a banquet!

    • ed

      Of course he doesn’t like the Chip: 1)he and his rant make no sense; and 2) he’s a bike show-er. Nuff said…

  7. Themadyooper

    One of things that is a blessings of being a Yooper is being right smack dab in the middle of the North american continent.
    That said it makes it difficult to say this one ride you must do before you cash in your chips.
    It discounts the journey just to get to a great place like the Spearfish canyon, or riding out of Bulls gap Tennessee at 6 am. in pea soup fog to beat a storm to Chicago. When the fog started lifting it was truly amazing.
    I have found the rides I enjoy the most and recommend regularly is when you don’t have a specific destination in mind and you just decide to hop on that bike grab a hunk of throttle and create it as it comes to you.
    The last time I did that I was gone for two months and rode 12,364 miles. You have to change the air in your head from time to time.

  8. Papa Jim Everhart
    Papa Jim Everhart

    all 4 corners of of the USA 48 states and everything in the middle in between……

  9. Tom

    Crap! I’ve ridden Spearfish Canyon. It is really nice like they say but I was hoping I had more to do before I die! 🙂

  10. Keith Raimbault
    Keith Raimbault

    Best ride is colorado in black canyon there is a lake and scenery is beautiful

  11. Mike Bender
    Mike Bender

    Guess I’ll have to set aside a time to see this Spearfish canyon.
    My dream ride, the day I bought the Harley, was to tour the Blue Ridge Parkway from north to south in total. So In 2003 I finally got to do that. I spent three amazing weeks just putting around sometimes visiting the mom and pop stores and seeing the sights. It was so good I had to do it again in 2009. But that time the brother in law came with. He was amazed at all the things he saw on that trip. Now, when I look at the photos, I can still smell that sweet mountain air.

    So now it’s Spearfish canyon or bust.

  12. Paul

    Beartooth Pass , Beartooth Highway in Wyoming. I have been across it a couple times in a cage, but I must do it on a bike. I just have to pick a time to avoid the RV parade.