Enjoy a hearty breakfast at Weimer’s Diner, Uncle Louie’s, or the Sidehack Saloon & Grille to fuel your body for a great day discovering the history of Sturgis and surrounding Northern Black Hills.
Your day’s adventure begins at Bear Butte State Park. Mato Paha or “Bear Mountain” is the name given to this sacred site by the Lakota; where legend says the bear that clawed Devils Tower laid down and died. Bear Butte continues to play an important part of American Indian ceremonies; as you hike the trails surrounding the butte you may find evidence of prayer ties or small bundles or pouches hanging from trees, please do not touch these as they represent prayers. The butte, formed by molten lava as it pushed its way upward but never reached the surface, rises majestically above the plains east of Sturgis. Enjoy touring the visitors center and hiking to the top of the butte where you’ll experience an unsurpassed view of the Black Hills to the west and the vast plains to the east.
Next step back in time as you tour the Ft. Meade Museum. The museum is located on the grounds of VA Black Hills Health Care Center, and is the former home of Ft. Meade Cavalry Post. The post has a rich historical significance to the Black Hills and the nation. It was here Comanche, the lone cavalry survivor of the Battle of Little Big Horn, was brought and remained for many years. It was here where the Star Spangled Banner began its start towards becoming our national anthem. And it was Ft. Meade that survived all other frontier posts along the upper Missouri before becoming a veterans’ hospital in 1944.
For the full “Sturgis” experience your next stop is the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame. Immerse yourself in motorcycle history and the history of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, as you view not only the bikes from history, but also learn about the people who made cycling a part of our American culture. Find out how this small town became home to the “granddaddy of all bike rallies” and grew from a few friends getting together to an event that hosts up to 500,000 people.
By now you’re probably ready to enjoy lunch before you continue your day. Perhaps you’d like to try The Loud American Roadhouse, The Knuckle Saloon or Knuckle Brewing Company, Weimer’s, Uncle Louie’s, or Domino’s Pizza – all within walking distance of the museum!
After lunch, cruise down world-famous Main Street before heading northwest to the High Plains Western Heritage Museum located just off Exit 14 in Spearfish. High Plains Western Heritage Museum is situated on a bluff which offers a 3-state view from the upper balcony. The museum offers over 20,000 square feet of exhibits celebrating the pioneers who settled the hills. Make sure you spend some time outside on the grounds where you’ll find long-horn cattle, a furnished log cabin and school house.
You’re on your way to gold territory next as you travel to Lead and visit what was once known as the “jewel of the hills”, Historic Homestake Opera House. The complex was completed in 1914 at the direction of Phoebe Apperson Hearst (widow of George Hearst) who wanted to improve the lives of the miners and their families. The building originally housed an auditorium, bowling alley, indoor swimming pool, library, social rooms and billiard hall. The Opera House was the center of Lead’s social scene for many years and was deeded to the City of Lead in 1972. In 1984, a devastating fire broke out in the building, over 70 firefighters battled the blaze before it was finally extinguished. While the structural integrity of the building remained intact much of the interior was severely damaged. Since that time a slow process of restoration has been on-going. Tour this gem, where you can see still evidence of the tragic fire and view the on-going restoration.
Now that you’ve enjoyed viewing the fruits of what gold mining contributed to the area discover the Homestake Visitor Center to investigate the process for mining gold. Enjoy the view from the deck above the 1876 Open Cut mining area, inspect the artifacts and memorabilia before viewing the educational video. Don’t miss the opportunity to take the guided surface tour that leads you through the process hoisting, crushing and milling the underground ore at what was once the largest gold mine in the western hemisphere.
Every western community had its boot hill, for Deadwood that’s Mt. Moriah Cemetery. Final resting place of Wild Bill Hickock, Calamity Jane, murders, madams and businessmen, Mt. Moriah is situated high on the hill overlooking Deadwood.
After a fulfilling day it’s time to relax and enjoy a great meal. We suggest Cadillac Jack’s, Deadwood Gulch, Deadwood Mountain Grand, First Gold, or The Lodge. They are all found in Deadwood and offer excellent meal choices, a fantastic way to end your journey to the past.