Rodeo is integral to Western history and culture, and nowhere is it more alive and well than the Greater Yellowstone. Here, we’ve featured some of the region’s top events, as well as some of the smaller getups around the region. Grab your hat and boots, and let’s go!
Big Sky Professional Bull Riding
Come July, the snow has melted from all but the highest peaks, and dust flies in the Town Center, when the country’s meanest bulls buck the world’s best riders during Big Sky’s biggest summer event.
Last season – its third on the circuit – the Big Sky PBR was named Touring Pro Division Event of the Year, as chosen by bull riders at the Built Ford Tough Series World Finals in Las Vegas.
Come for the bulls and stay for the after party, when locals, visitors and cowboys dance to free concerts from Pink Floyd tribute band Pinky and the Floyd night one and Big Sky favorites Bottom of the Barrel night two.
Where to eat: The Corral
Established in 1947, the Corral is a local favorite, known for friendly hospitality and great food. Try the Corral Burger with the works, or the hand-cut prime rib. Real Montana lives!
Where to shop: Rhinestone Cowgirl
Western meets urban at 32 Town Center Ave. in Big Sky, with Ariat and Liberty Black boots, Ryan Michael and Barnfly snap shirts, locally made belt buckles and more. Open 10-8 daily.
Where to stay: Big Sky Resort
Big Sky Resort’s variety of affordable hotels, condos, and cabins are perfect for your PBR basecamp, with Zipline Tours, Lone Peak Expedition Tour and more family fun activities right out your door.
Livingston Roundup Rodeo
Established in 1924, the Livingston Roundup Rodeo draws 15,000 spectators each July 2-4. With the Absaroka Mountains towering over town, and the Yellowstone River and Livingston’s lively downtown just down the street, this is a classic. Events include tie-down and team roping, barrel racing, steer wrestling, bull riding, and bareback and saddle bronc riding.
Eat/stay: Yellowstone Valley Lodge
With its rustic style, upscale amenities and spectacular Paradise Valley setting, Yellowstone Valley Lodge is the perfect spot to relax after the rodeo festivities, and rejuvenate en route to Yellowstone Park.
Enjoy a glass of fine wine paired with local farm-to-table cuisine in the outdoor dining area, and retire to a cozy private cabin beside the Yellowstone River. The friendly staff are knowledgeable about local travel and adventure, and also offer guided fly fishing. Dinner reservations recommended.
Red Lodge Home of Champions Rodeo
When the chutes open this July 2, 3 and 4 in Red Lodge, Montana, it will be to celebrate 85 years of Red Lodge Rodeo. The Home of Champions Rodeo grounds sit at the base of the scenic Beartooth Highway, making it a favorite of top contenders and a great destination for families. The kids Mutton Bustin’ event and the Wild Horse Race are fan favorites, as is the Red Lodge Parade, which begins daily at noon.
Built in 1893 in downtown Red Lodge, these elegant digs have hosted a who’s who of Western characters. If the walls could talk, they’d tell of Buffalo Bill Cody gambling in the parlor, Calamity Jane’s debauchery, and “The Sundance Kid” robbing the place in 1897.
General Manager Zaven Yaralian (the former NFL player) has brought his success as a restaurateur, and the hotel now features a balance of Western style and preserved history, alongside modern creature comforts like a fitness center and sauna.
Select rodeos in the Greater Yellowstone
Jackson Hole Rodeo
Memorial Day – Labor Day
Cody Nite Rodeo
Nightly, June 1 – August 31
Wild West Yellowstone Rodeo
June 18-August 30, 3-5 nights a week
West Yellowstone, MT
Teton Valley Rodeo
June 20 – August 22 every Friday night
Gardiner’s Annual NRA Rodeo
June 13-14, Gardiner, MT
Big Timber Rodeo
June 27-28, Big Timber, MT
July 2-4, Livingston, MT
Home of Champions Rodeo and Parade
July 2-4, Red Lodge, MT
Ennis Rodeo and Parade
July 3-4, Ennis, MT
Cody Stampede Rodeo
July 1-4, Cody, WY
Whoopee Days Rodeo
July 4-5, Rexburg, ID
Butte Vigilante Saddle Club Bullride
July 5, Butte, MT
Sheridan WYO Rodeo
July 5-13, Sheridan, WY
Madison County Fair and Rodeo
July 8-13, Twin Bridges, MT
Gallatin County Fair
July 16-20, Bozeman, MT
Rock Creek Cattle Co. Bull-A-Rama
July 18, Deer Lodge, MT
Broadwater County Fair & Rodeo
July 23-27, Townsend, MT
Whitehall Frontier Days Rodeo
July 25, Whitehall, MT
Big Sky PBR
July 30-31, Big Sky, MT
This story was first published in the summer 2014 Mountain Outlaw