Everything You Need to Know About Going to a Rodeo in the Black Hills

Of all the things to do in the Black Hills, you especially don’t want to miss out on a rodeo! This might not be the first thing that comes to mind on your vacation itinerary, but it’s definitely something you want to experience for yourself. The whole family will love coming out to see the different types of riding and discover why Black Hills rodeos consistently draw crowds from miles around. Grab the kids, head out of your Black Hills cabin rental, get a bite to eat, and head out to the rodeo! 

rodeo cowboy riding a horse

The History of Rodeos in the Black Hills

For South Dakota natives, rodeo isn’t just a sport; it’s a lifestyle. Rodeo was even named the official state sport in 2003! Rodeos are constantly being held all around the area, so there’s sure to be a fun event going on near your accommodations. For instance, the Black Hills Roundup is held along the Belle Fourche River and has been a staple of the area since 1918.

Rodeo participants take the sport incredibly seriously here. Participants attend local and state rodeos, and winners earn money that help them qualify for the National Finals Rodeo. If someone wants to become a professional, they must purchase a permit from the PRCA. In the year following, the rider must earn at least $1,000 in winnings in order to become a cardholder and be given preference of future rodeos.

What to Expect

One thing a lot of people don’t realize about rodeos is that there are numerous events. It’s not all just trying to stay on horseback for as many seconds as possible. Some of the most popular events include steer wrestling, bull riding, bareback riding, and barrel racing.

Steer wrestling is also known as bulldogging and involves a rider starting out on a horse. The rider will chase a steer, drop from the horse to the steer, then wrestle the steer to the ground. As you might imagine, there is a high chance of injury in this portion of the activity. Bull riding is probably what you’re most familiar with, and it involves a cowboy getting on a bucking bull and trying to stay on for up to 8 seconds. Similarly, bareback riding involves a participant trying not to be thrown off of a bucking horse without using a saddle. Finally, barrel racing is an event where a participant tries to complete a cloverleaf pattern around preset barrels in a quick amount of time.

horse bucking a rodeo cowboy

Rodeos in Black Hills

Rodeos in the Black Hills are happening all the time, so it won’t be hard to find one near you. As we’ve already mentioned, the Black Hills Roundup in Belle Fourche is one of the most popular events in the area and takes place annually in early July. In nearby Rapid City, the Wild West Wednesday Rodeo is held from mid-July through late August every year. If you’re not visiting in the summer, head to the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo in Rapid City, held every year in late January.

You might also enjoy the Mount Rushmore Rodeo in Hill City, which takes place throughout the summer and includes barrel racing, bull riding, saddle bronc riding, and other activities. In the city of Deadwood, you’ll find the Deadwood Days of ‘76 event being held every year in late July. This event was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in July 2011 and has won the Badlands Circuit Rodeo of the Year Award 13 times!

This is just a handful of the rodeo fun you can have on your next visit to the Black Hills. When you’re staying in South Dakota, be sure to experience the rodeo for yourself. We promise it will be a memorable time! If you’re ready to start planning your getaway, contact us today to learn more about our Lead, SD cabin rentals.