Wholesome Family Fun
A night at the Jackson Hole Rodeo is the perfect way to blend the best of the modern-day West with some deep, Old West cowboy traditions. You’ll find the rodeo to be fast paced, interlaced with modern entertainment—such as current pop, rock and country music played in between competitions—plus a mechanical buffalo to ride out front.
Inside the arena is a rich, familial heritage where teamwork and tradition are honored, every rider loves the ride and the chance to dazzle the audience in a brief moment of glory is grasped, every time.
Every Wednesday and Saturday evening throughout the summer, the price of admission guarantees a lively glimpse into the world of the rodeo cowboy (and cowgirl)—past, present and future—as they ride bucking broncs and testy, mighty bulls, barrel race and rope calves, among other competitions.
“You won’t necessarily see current champions of rodeo, but definitely past and future champions,” says Brandon Wilson, whose family has been running the Jackson Hole Rodeo for more than 100 years now. “We’re an amateur rodeo trying to groom kids to go pro.”
Those rodeo-pros-in-training keep the excitement of competition coming at you non-stop throughout the two-hour event. And the one thing you’ll never hear is silence.
“The rodeo is foot stompin,’ yell your head off, rowdy, family fun!” says Brandon.
- When: Every Wednesday and Saturday night (and Fridays throughout August), from Memorial Day through Labor Day
- Duration: Starts promptly at 8 p.m. and usually finishes a little after 10 p.m. Crowds begin to arrive for tickets at 7:15 (but you can get them online!) Either way, show up early!
- Cost: $35, depending on your seats. $5 off for those under age 15 and over 55
- Where? The Rodeo grounds! 447 Snow King Ave in Jackson, a few blocks west of the base of Snow King.
- Ages: All
- Intensity: Easy, unless you plan on getting in the ring...
- Highlights: Watching some old-fashioned Western bull riding and being part of a lively crowd as the sun sets.
A Jackson Hole Tradition
The Jackson Hole Rodeo is steeped in tradition and the cowboy heritage of the sport. Running since 1890, when the Wilson family crossed Teton Pass to settle on our side of the mountains, the annual summer-long rodeo eventually moved from Wilson, Wyoming, to its current digs near downtown Jackson.
For locals, the floodlights over the rodeo grounds and distant sound of applause on certain nights are hallmarks of summertime. For visitors who want to immerse themselves in Jackson Hole’s Old West living history, spending an evening at the rodeo means they are witnessing the real deal. And for the Wilson family, rodeo is like breathing: Members of the clan still comprise a huge portion of both competitors and hands.
Brandon says he still ropes a bit; his son rides mini bulls, his nephews ride, and so on. “We’re all involved—roping, barrel racing, riding. Even if we don’t compete we’re part of it, working concession stand, in the rodeo office…”
“It’s a family show for everybody else, but it’s a family show for us, too.”
Become Part of the Action
When you buy your ticket to the rodeo, not only will you be a spectator—in some cases you’ll also be able to actively participate.
“Everybody wants to be a part of the rodeo and we try hard to give everybody a chance,” says Brandon.
To that end, while you’re waiting for the action to start in the Heritage Arena, you and/or your kids can ride the mechanical buffalo out front. There are also cowboy hats, boots and other rodeo and Western paraphernalia waiting to be purchased.
Once the cowboy competition begins, there comes a point where children ages 12 and under are invited into the arena to get down and dusty in the Sheep Scramble, an event that makes everyone in the family smile and giggle. You’ll also likely be visited by some members of the Rodeo Royalty—the queen, princesses and attendants—who mingle in the stands to inform the crowd about the sport of rodeo. Additionally, an autograph session with the rodeo clowns and competitors after the show opens yet another door on rodeo as a family tradition.
If you want an even closer peek at what makes a rodeo, a rodeo, check out the VIP Behind-the-Chutes Experience. This is a special (limited to 10 people) opportunity to go behind the chutes where the cowboys prepare to do battle in the arena.
Your visit to Jackson Hole just won’t feel complete without an authentic dip into the cowboy culture via the Jackson Hole Rodeo. It even bills itself as “Where the West is Still Wild.” And that can only mean one thing: It's time to cowboy up!