America's 13 Best Rodeos
The Wild West comes alive at America’s top rodeos. So pull your hat down tight, buckle your boot straps and get ready to bring it!
Photo By: PRCA ProRodeo Photo/Tom Donoghue
Photo By: Jim Babb / CNR / Getty Images
Photo By: William Mancebo / Getty Images
Photo By: Kansas Tourism
Photo By: Courtesy of Reno Rodeo
Photo By: Jim Heet Photography / Getty Images
Photo By: Matthew Ashton / AMA / Getty Images
Photo By: William Campbell / Getty Images
Photo By: William Mancebo, Getty Images
Photo By: Debra Feinman / iStock
Photo By: Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau
Photo By: National Western Stock Show
Photo By: George Hipple Photography / Getty Images
National Finals Rodeo
A cowboy casts a cool look during the National Finals Rodeo, popularly known as the “Super Bowl of rodeo.” The 10-day event, held each year in Las Vegas, determines the world champ in 7 main events, including bareback riding, steer wrestling and team roping.
When to go: First full week of December
Caldwell Night Rodeo
The cowboys are the stars at this annual 5-day rodeo event. Held in the Boise metro area, Caldwell Night Rodeo draws crowds of more than 40,000 people, eager to see the big draw: many of the world’s top professional cowboys who make Caldwell Night Rodeo an annual stop on their circuit.
When to go: Mid-August
Ready for some bulldogging? A cowboy reaches for a steer’s horns at the Pendleton Round-Up, one of the 10 largest rodeos in the world. Started in 1910, the annual rodeo event draws crowds of 50,000 to Pendleton, OR, where the town’s motto is, “The Real West.”
When to go: Mid-September
Dodge City Roundup Rodeo
Western heritage -- and big bucks -- draw championship cowboys and cowgirls to the annual Dodge City Roundup. Since its start in 1977, the 10-day event has grown to include a payout of nearly $254,000, alongside an audience of more than 100,000 people.
When to go: Late July to early August
Billed as the “wildest, richest rodeo in the West,” the Reno Rodeo spans 10 days and attracts more than 140,000 fans. Events include a Miss Reno Rodeo Queen pageant, cattle drive, carnival rides and the Xtreme Bull Riding Tour stop, featuring 40 of the world’s best pro bull riders.
When to go: Late June
Florence Junior Parada
The world’s oldest continuous junior rodeo finds its home in Florence, AZ. Eighty years since its start, the annual Florence Junior Parada rodeo draws hundreds of future PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Assocation) cowboys and cowgirls, ages 5 to 18, to compete in rodeo events such as team roping, breakaway roping and even bull riding.
When to go: Late November
For the world’s largest live entertainment and livestock show, head to Houston’s Reliant Stadium. In 2012, this massive 1,900,000-square-foot facility hosted the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo -- and a whole lot of animals: 26,305 livestock and horse show exhibitors competed for a shot at a Houston championship.
When to go: Late February to mid-March
Exciting rodeo action mixes with stunning mountain sunsets at the annual Yellowstone Rodeo in southwestern Montana. The annual event showcases the big rodeo draws -- including bareback bronc riding, bull riding, team roping and saddle broc riding -- as well as a “calf scramble” event in which kids can safely compete.
When to go: June through early September
Cheyenne Frontier Days
The granddaddy of rodeo events, Cheyenne Frontier Days has been held in its namesake Wyoming town since 1897. The outdoor rodeo and western celebration features hundreds of horses performing rodeo events and track acts. The annual event draws nearly 200,000 people, with a whopping 100,000 free pancakes served by the local Kiwanis club.
When to go: Last full week of July
After more than 75 years, the Ellensburg Rodeo in Washington State has grown from a local competition among ranch hands to a leading rodeo festival: More than 600 contestants vie for prize money in excess of $400,000. In the Pacific Northwest, the rodeo is second in size only to the Calgary Stampede in Alberta, Canada.
When to go: Labor Day weekend
Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo
For 23 heart-pounding days, the annual Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo puts on quite a show at the Will Rogers Memorial Center. The annual event, which draws a crowd of 900,000, showcases the world’s original indoor rodeo, with 36 performances of professional rodeo on display, such as calf roping.
When to go: Mid-January to early February
National Western Stock Show
Now in its 106th year, the National Western Stock Show in Denver spans 16 days, and a 100-acre show ground home to the second largest rodeo in the United States. Hands-on animal exhibits feature 15,000 head of horses, cattle, sheep, alpacas, llamas and more -- plus, a chance for the little ones to go giddy-up.
When to go: Last 2 weeks in January
Wild West showman Buffalo Bill considered North Platte, NE, his hometown, and went on to found modern-day rodeo in the city. Today, the legacy continues with Nebraskaland Days: The largest rodeo event in western Nebraska showcases parades, art shows, concerts, food events and, of course, rodeos.
When to go: Mid-June