America's Biggest Rodeos
Bucking broncos and the cowboys and cowgirls tough enough to tame ’em: The Wild West comes alive at America’s top rodeos. So pull your hat down tight, and bring it!
National Finals RodeoA 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 960 1280
Caldwell Night RodeoThe 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 960 1280
Pendleton Round-UpReady 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 960 1280
Dodge City Roundup RodeoWestern 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 960 1280
Cheyenne Frontier DaysThe 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 960 1280
Ellensburg RodeoNow in its 75th year, 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 960 1280
Fort Worth Stock Show and RodeoFor 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 960 1280
Nebraskaland DaysWild 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 960 1280
Yellowstone RodeoExciting 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 960 1280
National Western Stock ShowNow 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 960 1280
RodeoHoustonFor 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 960 1280
Reno RodeoBilled 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 960 1280
Miss Rodeo AmericaHere she comes, Miss Rodeo America 2012 winner Mackenzie Carr -- the first winner from Oregon. The first pageant was held in Casper, WY, in 1955. Today, the annual pageant is held in Las Vegas, with contestants competing in areas of appearance, horsemanship and personality.
When to go: Early to mid-December 960 1280
Florence Junior ParadaThe 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 960 1280
Hollister Hills SVRA (Hollister, California)Hollister Hills SVRA (State Vehicular Recreation Area) has 24 miles of trails, including a man-made obstacle course that features a mud bog, which attracts big crowds on the weekends. Located in the mountains dividing the city of Hollister from the Salinas Valley, many of the routes at this off-road course are impassable when wet -- and always a challenge. 960 1280
Moab, UtahMoab in Southeastern Utah, is an iconic off-roading destination in the US. The terrain has been a battleground for off-roaders, mountain bikers, hikers and rafters -- so much so that some trails have been fully or partially closed to off-road vehicles. However, there’s plenty of space for 4x4 trucks and other modified off-road rigs. Guided trail tours and Jeep rentals are available in the area. State resident or non-resident Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) permits are required. 960 1280
The Cliffs Insane Terrain Off-Road Park (Marseilles, Illinois)Looking for muddy fun? Head to Marseilles, IL, where off-road enthusiasts converge on The Cliffs Insane Terrain Off-Road Park. This heavily wooded park features large fields, creeks and 1 treacherous mud hole -- you’ll have to ask park personnel where it is. Just a few words of wisdom: Watch out for deep holes disguised as easy mud puddles. 960 1280
Whipsaw Trail (South-Central British Columbia)Close to Coalmont, Princeton, in British Columbia, the Whipsaw Trail should be on your list to visit between July and August, when the rainfall is lowest. Winner of the BFGoodrich Outstanding Trails award, this trail is an active mining and logging road, so watch out for traffic! Some areas of the trail are challenging and may require a winch and tow strap if your 4x4 or rig gets stuck. 960 1280
Redneck Yacht Club (Punta Gorda, Florida)Welcome to the Redneck Yacht Club Mud Park in Punta Gorda, FL. This is the ultimate destination for mudding and off-roading enthusiasts. The 800-acre park has 3 mud holes, a mud track, drive-thru buggy/ATV wash, camping, food vendors and much more. The Redneck Yacht Club has 4 mud holes to choose from depending on your riding preferences, including Hog Waller and Gator Slough. 960 1280
Shiloh Ridge (Alto, Texas)It’s known as the first and original off-road park in Texas. Shiloh Ridge is home to the Texas Redneck Games, a 4-day event that includes mudding, camping, live entertainment, wet T-shirt contests and more! Located north of Alto, TX, this park -- open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week -- welcomes owners of ORV (off-road vehicles), ATVs and motorcycles. 960 1280
Azusa Canyon (Azusa, California)This is the only state-owned-and-operated mud mecca in Southern California. Fed by the San Gabriel River, the bogs here are deep with silt from the surrounding San Gabriel Mountains, making it a perfect spot for mudding. In order to get in, your rig should be legal to drive on the street. 960 1280
The Mounds ORV Area (Mt. Morris, Michigan)Located in Mt. Morris, MI (near Flint, MI), The Mounds is a large complex with soft, sandy soil and small- to medium-sized ponds scattered throughout the park. High horsepower isn’t recommended; rig with 33-inch mud tires and waterproofed electronics will suffice. 960 1280
Las Cruces, New MexicoOff-roading is so big in Las Cruces, NM, that there’s a club, the Las Cruces Four Wheel Drive Club. We recommend attending the Annual Chile Challenge Off-Road Trail Event that is usually scheduled during the last week in February. Although there isn’t a competition, participants follow an experienced trial leader to complete a challenging run over significant obstacles. 960 1280
Truck Night at Yankee Lake (Brookfield, Ohio)Prepare to go off-roading in some of the most challenging bogs in the US. In Brookfield, OH, Truck Night at Yankee Lake attracts huge crowds who want to watch high-horsepower trucks compete in gritty mud pits with fun activities like the rock crawl, log climb, car crush and tug o' war. Truck Night is on Friday nights from May through September. We recommend off-roading fans check out the season opener event, Trucks Gone Wild. 960 1280
Top US Off-Road Destinations 10 Photos
Crown Fountain, ChicagoDesigned by Jaume Plensa, the Crown Fountain in Chicago's Millennium Park consists of 2 50-foot glass brick towers facing each other across a black granite plaza. LED screens project the faces of smiling Chicago residents who take turns spurting water into the 1/8th-inch deep reflecting pool. 960 1280
Central Park, New YorkWho says you can't keep cool in the city? Park yourself alongside the Bethesda Fountain in Central park or to take to the Lake in a rented rowboat from Loeb’s boathouse. 960 1280
Noah's Ark Water Park, WisconsinFamilies visiting Noah's Ark, America's largest water park, have over 51 exhilirating slides and 2 giant wave pools to choose from. 960 1280
Schlitterbahn Water Park, TexasOpened in the heart of Texas Hill Country in 1966, Schlitterbahn may now have bragging rights to the world's tallest water slide, Verrückt, but it hasn’t sacrificed its family-first atmosphere such as allowing visitors to bring in their own picnics into the park. 960 1280
Wet 'n Wild Water Park, OrlandoMinutes from Universal Orlando, Wet 'n Wild has the requisite lazy river and wave pool expected of any water park worth its salt as well as new thrill rides like the Aqua Drag Racer where visitors can go head-to-head in 4 lanes of high-speed slides. 960 1280
Brownstone Park, ConnecticutThis adventure center in Portland, CT, provides an adrenaline-pumping plunge into the water from a zip line. Spend the rest of the day rock climbing, cliff jumping, swimming, kayaking and more. 960 1280
Best Places to Cool Off in the US 13 Photos