America's Wildest Rodeos
A time-honored tradition of America's West, rodeos captivate the imaginations of cowboys, cowgirls and ranching enthusiasts across the globe with visions of bucking bulls, bareback horse riding, lasso roping and winning purses worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
While the actual rodeo competition is at the forefront of these events, North America's most popular rodeos inspire more than a few "Yee-haws!" with events honoring Wild West culture like chuckwagon cookoffs, homages to American Indian and Mexican traditions, and rollicking midways or carnivals. Grab your Wranglers and cowboy boots, click your spurs and discover the 5 wildest rodeos in America.
Feelin' inspired? See our slideshow of America's biggest rodeos.
Sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, rodeo events feature more than 1,500 participants seeking to win purses totaling $1 million in cash and prizes. Attendees can watch bull riding, bareback bronco riding, steer wrestling and barrel racing competitions. When visitors are ready to do more exploring, they can check out a recreated American Indian village, chow down at a daily pancake breakfast stand or watch the United States Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration.
One of the most famous rodeos in the world, the Stampede features 6 major events: bull riding, steer wrestling, racing, tie-down roping, saddle and bareback riding, and offers payouts up to $100,000 in each category. Other notable Stampede activities include a visit to the "Indian Village." Erected by members of various tribes, the village offers examples of tipis and powwows, as well as arts and crafts demonstrations.
Held annually in Las Vegas during the first full week in December, this rodeo perpetually sells out all events; book tickets well in advance if you plan to attend. Between events, take some time to explore the rodeos other attractions, like the Cowboy Christmas, a holiday gift show featuring more than 400 vendors, as well as a Miss Rodeo America pageant, live music performances and a mechanical bull riding contest.
You'll watch honest-to-goodness working cowboys take part in heart-pounding saddle bronc riding, stock sorting and even wild cow milking. Other must-see events include the traditional Mexican Celebration, and the World's Original Indoor Rodeo, complete with barrel racing, roping, steer wrestling and bareback riding. When it's time to wind down after dark, head to the midway to ride the Ferris wheel, play games or simply enjoy cotton candy and people watching.
Things heat up at the rodeo, which includes special events like the Martin Luther King Jr. African-American Heritage Rodeo and the Mexican Rodeo Extravaganza, featuring competitions in bareback and bull riding, folkloric dancing and exhibition bullfighters. Be sure to grab tickets to one of the rodeo highlights, An Evening of Dancing Horses, featuring dressage, freestyle reining and drill elements choreographed to music.