If you've never been to South Dakota, you should start planning your road trip. In addition to the stunning Badlands National Park and Black Hill National Forest, there's another landmark you need to visit, especially if you're a fan of seeing the open road from the back of a motorcycle. Located just outside Sturgis, South Dakota, the Full Throttle Saloon is the world's largest biker bar and home to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. So get out the map, gas up the tank, and let's ride.
You may have heard of the reality TV favorite Full Throttle Saloon, if you watched the TV show by the same name that ran on TruTV for five seasons. Owner Michael Ballard built the original Full Throttle Saloon in 1999 on 30 acres of land. Featuring everything from cabins to a tattoo parlor and zip lines to music stages, the saloon was popular both on television and in person.
In September 2015, a large fire destroyed the original Full Throttle Saloon. Ballard, his wife Angie and musician and tv personality Jesse James Dupree rebuilt the Full Throttle in a new location. The new Full Throttle Saloon sits on 600 acres in Vale, near Bear Butte, on what used to be the Broken Spoke Campground.
When we say largest biker bar, we mean it. Full Throttle Saloon is housed in a 26,000-square-foot building. The bar is full of motorcycle memorabilia, cool bikes and vintage parts. But it's more than just motorcycles; you'll find all sorts of machinery throughout the saloon.
The Rapid City Journal talked to co-owner Dupree, who said, "When Michael Ballard rebuilt the Full Throttle Saloon, he wanted it to be a tribute to what made America great. When you walk into this place it looks like the Industrial Revolution blew up."
And, because it is a bar, the Full Throttle Saloon has its own line of spirits, including the Full Throttle 70 Proof Espresso Shot and S'loonshine. Ask for the Oil Spill, which is Full Throttle Espresso Shot and Guinness over ice.
While the saloon is open every day, the real party gets going during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, held in August. The event attracts about 700,000 people for a week of music, bands and bikes.
The Sturgis rally kicks off on August 7, 2020, and you can find the schedule of events at fullthrottlesaloon.com. It's the 80th anniversary of the rally, so expect even more of a party at the Full Throttle Saloon this year.
Whether you do the rally or just stop by on a road trip, you'll want to spend some time there. Plan to spend a night or three at the Pappy Hoel Campground; your choice of cabin, RV parking or tent camping. There's an Olympic-sized swimming pool and hot tubs to relax in, plus breakfast and dinner buffets. And, of course, the saloon!