Top Rodeos Every Fan Should See

Experience great rodeo action from these powerhouse events...

Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo
Barrell racer Lexi Bath is seen competing with a final time of 18.42 seconds at the 117th annual Frontier Days rodeo and western celebration on July 23, 2013 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. William Mancebo / Getty Images

If you're looking for a fantastic rodeo experience you have come to the right place. This is my list of top 12 rodeos that every serious rodeo fan should see. Saddle up and take a whirlwind tour through the top 12 rodeos in the world. These rodeos are in no particular order.

1. Cheyenne Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming

Known as the "Daddy of 'Em All" to cowboys and fans alike, this rodeo gives the most prized award buckles after the World Championship buckles given out at the NFR.

This rodeo started in 1919 as a stock show and has grown into the most anticipated rodeo outside of the finals. There is over a week of rodeo action and related events, including concerts (with major headliners), a western art show, and much, much more.

2. Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

This is Canada's answer to Cheyenne. With a history that starts in 1912, this 10-day rodeo offers tons of activities during the rodeo week. In 2000, the Calgary Stampede pulled in a record 1.2 million in attendance. I really dig the chuck wagon races they have here every year.

3. Rodeo Houston in Houston, Texas

Held in conjunction with the Houston Livestock Show this rodeo had record attendance this year with 1.8 million coming through the gates at this 20-day event. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a world of its own with, trail rides, cowboy cooking, contests, western art and just about anything else you can think of relating to rodeos and cowboys.

4. The Reno Rodeo in Reno, Nevada

The Reno Rodeo has been thrilling audiences since 1919 with its intimate rodeo action. I love the Reno Rodeo, there is just something cool about being in the high Nevada desert with over a weeks worth of entertainment. This rodeo also features a cattle drive, golf tournament, and an Xtreme Bulls event.

Go to Reno and thank me later.

5. National Western Rodeo in Denver, Colorado

Over half a million people a year go through the gates of this excellent indoor event. This will be the 99th year for this venerable rodeo, which is held in conjunction with a huge stock and horse show.

6. Southwest Exposition Livestock Show and Rodeo in Fort Worth, Texas

It was here, in 1904, where cowboy Bill Pickett (The Dusky Demon) demonstrated his 'bulldoggin' technique at the stock show. This is a huge event with almost 2 weeks of rodeo action and plenty to see and do in the lovely Fort Worth area.

7. National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada

What can I say? It’s the World Series, Super Bowl, etc., all rolled up into one. The top 15 cowboys and cowgirls in the country compete for the World Championships. Seeing this rodeo on television is one thing, but you must see it in person at least once.

8. Ram National Finals Circuit Rodeo in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

This is a great rodeo in which cowboys and cowgirls from all over the country get their chance to compete for Circuit Finals glory. Held in the spring, this competitive competition is one of the largest early-season events, and helps set the pace for competition throughout the grueling summer rodeo season.

9. Rocky Mountain Stampede in Greeley, Colorado

This is one awesome event held in the beautiful state of Colorado. This event features several music concerts, art shows, BBQ’s, as well as a huge parade and fireworks show. There is plenty to do at the Stampede with something for everyone.

10. La Fiesta De Los Vaqueros in Tucson, Arizona

I really like Arizona, there’s just something about the place. I also enjoy La Fiesta De Los Vaqueros (Party of the Cowboys to you eastern dudes) with its pageantry and celebration of the Wild West. Over a week's worth of rodeo action under the Tucson sun, what could be better?

11. Prescott Frontier Days in Prescott, Arizona

This excellent event is billed as "Worlds Oldest Rodeo." Here on July 4th, 1888 the first 'cowboy tournament' was held. This rodeo has grown into 8 days of first class rodeo competition.

The history and exciting action of this event makes it a must see for any rodeo fan.

12. Laughlin River Stampede in Laughlin, Nevada

I hate to let the cat out of the bag on this one so to speak, but Laughlin is a great city nestled on the Colorado River. The only thing cooler than this fantastic city is their rodeo. While not as big as the other rodeos on this list, it makes up for it in the prize money available and the level of cowboys and cowgirls that it draws. If you would like a more ‘hometown’ rodeo experience without compromising quality then Laughlin is the place for you. I guarantee that once you visit Laughlin you will go back.

Honorable mentions

These rodeos deserve a nod for their exciting action and great events. Check them out and you won’t be disappointed.