When it comes to experiencing the Real America, there’s plenty to do for the whole family. Whether it’s an off-road adventure through the dramatic landscapes of the Rocky Mountain region, or an evening immersing yourself in the culture of western fairs and rodeos, there’s something for everyone at every age.
The following is a sampling of both major and unique events and cultural happenings in the Real America. For more information, please visit the official state tourism sites linked below.
With a state as big and diverse as Montana, there are plenty events – both large and small – to attend throughout the year. During the winter months, enjoy the Whitefish Winter Carnival in Whitefish and the Annual Northern Rodeo Association Finals in Billings. The Northern International Livestock Exposition Rodeo and Trade Show takes place in October in Billings and includes livestock and quarter horse shows and sales.
In early April, cruise through West Yellowstone during Cycle Only Days. During the second week of May, don’t miss the Buffalo Feast and Powwow in St. Ignatius. For rodeo fun, take in the Miles City Jaycee Bucking Horse Sale in Miles City, where you can watch and bet on wild horse races. In early June, take in some inspiring music amidst impeccable scenery during the Red Lodge Music Festival.
In late June, take in the Custer’s Last Stand and Little Bighorn Days in Hardin. Attend the Lewis and Clark Festival in Great Falls and be treated to a buffalo barbecue, musket shooting, short float trips on the Missouri, and more. Experience interpretive Living History Days at Nevada City and see old west history in action during the weekends from May to September. On the Fourth of July, attend the Livingston Roundup Rodeo – three nights of rodeo action with a parade, Livingston’s famous “Indian hold ups,” and fireworks.
In early July, enjoy the North American Indian Days in Browning, bringing in American Indians from across the country for a celebration of Native Americans and one of the largest Blackfeet tribal events. Attend the Wild Horse Stampede in Wolf Point, featuring a professional rodeo and wild horse races.
In August, enjoy Rocky Boy’s Annual Powwow in Box Elder or the Crow Fair in Crow Agency featuring Indian heritage and traditional dancing. Travel back in time to the mountain-man era at the Smoking Waters Mountain Man Rendezvous in West Yellowstone.
For official information on these and other events in Montana, visit here.
Surrounded by grasslands and farms as far as the eye can see, North Dakota is known for being home to former President Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt. He once claimed that, “it was here that the romance of my life began.” Immerse yourself in the vastness of the state while engaging in the state’s many cultural and historical events.
Experience the “rootin’-tootinest, boot-scootinest show in all the West” at the outdoor Medora Musical June through September. The professionally produced, high energy western-style musical show is proudly dedicated to the legacy of America’s 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt, and the time he spent here in the Badlands of the Dakota Territory.
Towards the end of July, enjoy nine nights of exciting entertainment, including concerts, live bands, rodeo events, bull riding, and auto races at the North Dakota State Fair in Minot, or sight-see truly stunning scenery in the Badlands at North America’s most challenging and rewarding trails at the Maah Daah Hey Trail Run in Medora
Held annually in September, be a part of the Fall festivities at the Mandan OktoberFest. This event includes bands, craft vendors, beerfest, beer gardens, kids games, hay maze, adult games, German food vendors, hay rides, large farmers market and much more. Marvel in the traditions at Norsk Høstfest as tens of thousands of people come from around the world to partake in one of North America’s largest Scandinavian festivals.
For official information on these and other events in North Dakota, visit here.
Cattle and cowboys can still be found roaming the open ranges in South Dakota. Visitors are able to experience South Dakota’s Old West and pioneer heritage through roundups, rodeos and other prairie celebrations. The Sale Barn in Fort Pierre has livestock auctions every Friday throughout the year and runs one of the largest livestock operations in the country.
Attend the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo in Rapid City towards the end of January, early February. These events include professional rodeos, a ranch rodeo; timed sheep dog trials, draught horse events, as well as livestock and horse shows and sales.
The Fort Sisseton Historical Festival, held during the first weekend in June, features living-history demonstrations, infantry drills, and a rendezvous camp. That same weekend, visitors can hike to the top of Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills.
Take part in outdoor events in De Smet during the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant for three weekends in July. The outdoor event brings Laura’s “Little House” books to life. Attend the Black Hills Roundup in early July in Belle Fourche or Sitting Bull Stampede Rodeo in Mobridge. Mid-July events include the Santee Sioux Wacipi (powwow) in Flandreau and Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo in Mitchell.
In late July, the Days of ’76 in Deadwood take you back to the Gold Rush of 1876.
In August, enjoy the sounds of the Sioux River Fork Festival featuring acoustic folk artists from the United States and Canada, or attend the Riverboat Days along the Missouri River in Yankton.
Have a part in biker heaven at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally held each year in August. Sturgis’ Main Street becomes a sea of motorcycles, leather and denim, not to mention, motorcycle people. Since 1938, Sturgis has welcomed motorcycle enthusiasts from across the United States and around the world to the annual Motorcycle Rally, all based out of this small community in the northern Black Hills.
Held each year in early September, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Annual Fair, Rodeo and Powwow takes place in Eagle Butte. Soak up dancing, entertainment, and music and the fall harvest in Mitchell for the Corn Palace Festival. Late September brings the annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup, where more than 1,500 buffalo are rounded up and corralled. The ground sakes and the dirt swirls as the majestic buffalo go thundering by.
Pack trips, ranch stays, trail rides, and chuckwagon suppers contribute to the total western experience held spring through fall throughout the year.
For official information on these and other events in South Dakota, visit here.
Wyoming is known as the “Cowboy State,” and for good reason. Hometown rodeos are held every day during the summer throughout the state, all ranging form small-town “punkin rollers,” to the world’s largest outdoor rodeo…it’s where cowboys come to ride.
In July, attend the Cody Stampede in Cody or the PRCA Rodeo in Sheridan. Casper hosts the Central Wyoming Fair & PRCA Rodeo in early July, with the last full week in July always set aside for the world’s largest outdoor rodeo celebration; Cheyenne Frontier Days™. Also known as the “Daddy of ’em All,” this 10-day event features nine rodeos, nine night shows with the best in country entertainment, four parades, three free pancake breakfasts, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbird Air Show, and one of America’s top western art shows.
August’s rodeos include the Wyoming State Fair and PRCA Rodeo in Douglas, with the a conclusion to the summer rodeo season at Cowboy Days in Evanston over Labor Day weekend.
Wyoming also celebrates its mountain man heritage with a number of outstanding rendezvous: Frontier Festival, Fort Casper, June; 1838 Rendezvous, Riverton, July; Green River Rendezvous, Pinedale, second week in July; Fort Bridger Rendezvous, Fort Bridger State Park, Labor Day weekend; annual gatherings in Dubois, Jackson, Lander and Curt Gowdy State Park.
Native American celebrations are scheduled at the Wind River Indian Reservation, the Annual Powwow at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody mid-June, and the Gift of the Waters Pageant in Thermopolis the first weekend of August.
For official information on these and other events in Wyoming, visit here.