Picture Courtesy of Wikimedia
Is there a better place for soaking up the Old West spirit than Jackson, Wyoming? And is there a better activity for wholeheartedly embracing that spirit than an old-fashioned rodeo?
The Jackson Hole Rodeo is a time-honored regional tradition that functions both as a celebration of cowboy heritage and an outrageously fun evening out. Having all the bronc- and bull-riding action going down in the shadow of one of the world’s most breathtakingly scenic mountain ranges–the world-famous Tetons–just adds to the spectacle.
Rodeos are professional athletic events these days, no doubt about it, but the Jackson Hole version–inextricably linked to the valley’s cattle-raising legacy, which stretches back to the 1890s– retains the pleasantly down-home feel of its roots. Besides the drama of the bull- and bronco-riding, there’s barrel-racing, calf-roping, bareback exhibitions, and the famous calf scramble open to the kids.
If you’re heading for Yellowstone or Grand Teton national parks this summer, you won’t want to miss the Jackson Hole Rodeo–as fantastic in its way as a bison herd, a spouting geyser, or a soaring bald eagle!
Picture Courtesy of Flickr
The Jackson Hole Rodeo takes place on Wednesday and Saturday evening all summer long, from Memorial Day through Labor Day. There are also special Friday-night rodeos sprinkled across the summer calendar. On rodeo night, the gates swing open at 7:30 p.m., with the main event kicking off a half-hour later. This is a general-admission event; by Start Savin” href=”#”>check the website for current prices.
Rodeo organizers recommend purchasing tickets ahead of time–you can buy them over the official website, for example–so you can forgo the lines and grab a seat as quickly as possible. If you don’t have an advance ticket, try to get to the venue, the Teton County Fairgrounds, as early as you can; there’s often a line assembling a little after 7 p.m.
You can grab dinner at the rodeo, thanks to the well-stocked concessions. From burgers to hot dogs to beer, you’ll have what you need to get in the bucking-bronco spirit!
The rodeo tends to wrap up by about 10 p.m., but, as the organizers stress, any proceedings dependent on the cooperation of unruly horses and bulls can’t be pinned down to a tight timetable.
The Teton County Fairgrounds are located at 447 Snow King Ave., right on the southwest side of Jackson and an easy reach from downtown. (Remember: As lively as it is, Jackson’s still a small community that’s easy to navigate.) There’s plenty of parking, but you can also hop a bus to reach the fairgrounds.
You’ll want to dress for the elements when you come to the Jackson Hole Rodeo, as the action–befitting the tough-as-nails cowboy culture it takes its cues from–will go on whether it’s a picture-perfect evening or deluging. But summertime rain in Jackson Hole doesn’t usually last very long, so just bring a warm jacket and a poncho and you should be fine.
There are many, many fine accommodations available in Jackson and its surroundings. The very best are Jackson Hole luxury hotels, where upscale elegance comes infused with romantic Western style. You won’t find a better home base for appreciating all of the rodeo dramatics!
You definitely want to experience the Jackson Hole Rodeo at least once in your life–but, once you’ve been, we have a feeling you’ll be back again and again!
Michael May loves an exciting rodeo show. An avid traveler, he likes to write about the places he goes to and the things he sees. You can find his illuminating posts on many websites and blog sites today.