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The Buffalo Chip Campground

Bernie, trying to make a deal with the devil...

Bernie, trying to make a deal with the devil...

Tents were scattered every where

Tents were scattered every where

One of the famous Buffalo Chip signs... we made it!

One of the famous Buffalo Chip signs... we made it!

By Ray Parden

In August 2010 we rode our bikes 1500 miles, from Hammond Louisiana to Sturgis South Dakota for the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally. We wanted to be in the center of the action and get the complete experience of the rally so we stayed at the Buffalo Chip Campground. Our group consisted of three guys, Craig on his Road King Police bike, me on my standard Road King and Bernie drove his Chevy pickup truck with most of the camping gear . I can’t tell you how much we had looked forward to this trip and staying at the Chip, we certainly had a lot of expectations.

We made it to the Chip early afternoon and drove around the entire campground a few times before we could find a suitable spot for our 3 tents, 2 bikes and the truck. So the thing is, on Sunday of the first weekend, the place is pretty full, so to get a “good” spot to camp you need to be there before the rally starts. We found a place in the back not far from the entrance and set up camp.

It was hot, very hot, but at least it was a dry heat. There is no way you could possibly stay in a tent in the day time with that kind of upper 90’s heat, but we had a shade tent which made the campsite bearable during the day. At night it cooled down and was very comfortable, although I recommend ear plugs to block the noise. Where we were it was not really that bad at night, but at dawn, the early birds started revving their bikes. I guess they just didn’t like the idea of anyone sleeping late, besides, it was too hot to sleep late.

I guess there are a lot of things to do at the Chip, we saw the swimming hole, but not many were brave enough the enter the murky water, but most of the day action we saw was in the area around the stage. By action we mean people moving about. We ate a few meals there and looked in the shops and visited one of the bars, but other than the over all coolness of being there it was not very exciting. We visited the Full Throttle Saloon and it was by far a lot cooler place to be.

The concerts were awesome, and there was one band after another. Several great bands would be playing while we were there, including ZZ Top, Kid Rock, Bob Dylan, and Buckcherry. The night of Kid Rock we stood in one spot for 5 hours. Needless to say we were “broke men” after that. In fact after the concerts each night, it was all we could do to make it back to the tents around 1 and crawl in and pass out. We knew there must have been parties going on somewhere, but I guess if you are standing in front of the stage all night you may miss them. I feel pretty sure if we had be able to make the rounds of the RV areas there would have been some pretty good parties and interesting sites to see.

My recommendation, don’t tent camp at the Chip, unless like us you have to, rent an RV or have someone bring one for you because you can have air-conditioning during the day and walls to block some of the noise in the early morning and late night.

Speaking of amenities for campers at the Chip, don’t expect much. The free showers had freezing cold water every time we were there. There is no place to hang your clothes or towel, there is just warped rocking benches that you might find a place on if you are lucky. Free Showers = FAIL.

There are pay showers and they have no shortage of hot water and yes they are worth the price, unfortunately the water is too hot and you can’t control the hot cold mixture… so expect to get out sweating. If you pay for a hot show you can use their porta johns all day too - worth it!

The Chips permanent “outhouses” are pathetically run down and shabby. I could not bring my self to go in one other than to look inside which confirmed my fears. Thank god for porta johns.
Hey Chip people, as much as you make off your campers, can’t you do a little better? Anyway, that’s another reason to stay in an RV.

All the people we met at the Chip were pretty friendly, and we never felt intimidated by “rough bikers”. It was not as friendly as smaller rallies that we have been to, but don’t let the bad biker stereo type keep you away - cause bikers are cool.

I’m sure the Buffalo Chip is just like the story about the elephant and the blind men, each person will see and remember different things, so take this article with a grain of salt, it’s just our experience. If I ever go back, I will have an RV or trailer to stay in and I would not spend all my evenings and energy at the concerts, I would spend some time visiting the neighborhoods and talking with the people and watching the free shows that I know must be there somewhere.

Overall we had a good experience at the Buffalo Chip Campground and we are certainly glad we made it there… scratch that one off the bucket list!

We would love to hear your stories and opinions on the Chip… or try to answer any question you might have - Thanks for reading!

Oh, here’s their website - http://www.buffalochip.com/

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