Western Horseman lists some favorite cowboy vacation destinations.
Whether working as a rancher, day-worker, or simply owning a few horses, there is not a lot of loose change lying around for vacations. Each year, though, thousands of Western enthusiasts flock to their favorite destinations to take part in equine and Western events across the country. While there are far too many to list, here Western Horseman offers our 10 favorite cowboy vacation destinations.
1. PENDLETON ROUND-UP
Have you heard the phrase “Let ‘er buck”? In Pendleton, Oregon, they have based an entire rodeo on that motto. The Pendleton Round-Up is one of the 10 largest rodeos in the country. The rodeo is an experience- Native American traditions and lifestyle are on display alongside the traditional Western rodeo.
Held the second full weekend in September each year, the round-up draws thousands to this Oregon town for a little piece of history and a lot of rodeo.
For more information, visit pendletonroundup.com.
2. NATIONAL COWBOY & WESTERN HERITAGE MUSEUM
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
The museum houses some of the most interesting artifacts from Western history and more than 2,000 permanent pieces of art are on display, along with several galleries on rodeo, Western performers and Native Americans. The children’s area is available to entertain the younger buckaroos.
Plan on going to this incredible museum during the National Reining Horse Association Derby, held the last week of June through the first week of Jule, or the NRHA Futurity, held the end of November through the first of December. For more information on the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, visit nationalcowboymuseum.org.
3. CHEYENNE FRONTIER DAYS
Cheyenne Frontier Days-the “Daddy of ’em all!”–takes place each summer during the last full week in July. A festival with wild west roots features the worlds largest outdoor rodeo awarding more than $1 million in cash and prizes, a Native American Village, an old frontier town, a saloon, dancing, and a chuck wagon cook-off. Rounding out the program are a carnival midway, an air show, top-name entertainment, professional bull riding shows and several parades that include antique carriages and automobiles.
Visit cfdrodeo.com for more information.
If you drive to the rodeo, be sure to stop in Sheridan, Wyoming, and see the King Museum, home to more than three decades of the King family’s work and other Western artifacts.
For more information on Cheyenne Frontier Days, visit cfdrodeo.com, and to learn more about the King Museum, visit kingropes.com.
4. NATIONAL COWBOY POETRY GATHERING
The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering celebrates the poetry, music, art and lifestyle of the rural West. During the four-day celebration, held the end of January through the first of February, stages ran concurrent performances of the best in cowboy poetry and traditional cowboy music, and showcased the lifestyle of the rural West in a setting that understands that lifestyle. Thousands of visitors see performers such as Baxter Black, Don Edwards, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Waddie Mitchell, Ian Tyson and many more.
For more information on the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, visit westernfolklife.org.
5. THE WESTERN HERITAGE CLASSIC
In 1985, a group of cowboys got together to decide which outfit could claim bragging rights as the best working ranch. That first competition has evolved into today’s Western Heritage Classic and is held in Abilene, Texas in May each year. The three day event combines traditional working cowboy activities such as bronc riding, team penning and calf branding, and all proceeds benefit charity.
Along with a raucous ranch rodeo, visitors can attend the world’s largest bit and spur show, see a chuckwagon cook-off and matched horse race, and listen to some of the country’s most talented cowboy poets and musicians.
Visit westernheritageclassic.com for more information.
6. PARKER RANCH
One of the oldest and most historic ranches in the United States, the Parker Ranch encompasses approximately 135,000 acres on the island of Hawaii.
For more information on the Parker Ranch and the recreational opportunities offered-including horseback tours–offered, visit parkerranch.com.
7. THE STOCKYARDS
Fort Worth, Texas
Steeped in history and with a variety of entertainment options available, the Fort Worth Stockyards has become a popular tourist destination. For more information, visit fortworthstockyards.org.
8. PRO RODEO HALL OF FAME & MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN COWBOY
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Exhibits ranging from video presentations on the history of rodeo to displays of rodeo gear from the earliest days to the present draw visitors to this facility.
For more information, visit prorodeohalloffame.com.
9. WRANGLER NATIONAL FINALS RODEO
Las Vegas, Nevada
This year’s National Finals Rodeo held in December is the season-ending championship event for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. To learn about the NFR, visit prorodeo.com. For more information on the activities that surround the event, visit nfrexperience.com.
10. MILES CITY BUCKING HORSE SALE
Miles City, Montana
The Bucking Horse Sale annually debuts some of the finest bucking stock in the country. But in addition to watching action in the bucking arena, visitors have the opportunity to attend a street dance, a trade exposition, musical entertainment and pari-mutuel horse racing. Held the third full weekend in May each year. For more information, visit buckinghorsesale.com.