Cowboy life in Nevada is about men and women who ride horses and rope cows. They wear boots and hats because they’re useful to their work, not to make a statement – although they could tell the difference between round-toe and square-toe boots, and the real definition of a “buckaroo.”
This is the lifestyle that created the artform known as cowboy poetry, and it’s what’s celebrated every January in Elko during the ‘National Cowboy Poetry Gathering’.
Rodeos are a big part of the cowboy culture, and Nevada does them right. The Reno Rodeo is known as the wildest, richest rodeo in the West, and the ‘National Finals Rodeo’ in Las Vegas is where the best of the best show their stuff in the arena.
Saddle up for this list of things to do and events to attend
Wrangler National Finals Rodeo
Each December for ten days the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo runs at the Thomas Mack Center in Las Vegas which is located at the University of Nevada. Each of the ten days you will see the top 15 money winners in each of the seven different events that they compete in: bull riding, bareback riding, calf roping, saddle bronc riding, team roping, steer wrestling, and barrel racing. The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is the largest prize money rodeo in the world.
Event this year: Dec 7 – 16.
Visit Elko to connect with the American West
This town is where Nevada’s real cowboys work and play, and the Wild West spirit is catching.....even the folks at True West have taken notice of Elko's authentic western heritage, and ranked the town as one of the Top True Western Towns. Cowboys from across the nation flock to Elko every January for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, a celebration of the cowboy lifestyle and the rural West.
The Western Folk-life Center:
Located in the century-old Pioneer Hotel, the center is best known as ‘home-base’ for the annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering held each January, but also shines as an exemplary display of contemporary cowboy craftsmanship, ranch life and American Indian art. The Weigand Gallery at the center features western-themed exhibits, as well as a 20-seat black-box theater where visitors can watch a 16-minute video about why cowboys sing.
Northeastern Nevada Museum
Peruse the illustrations and writings of Western artist Will James, author of the Newbery Medal-winning children’s book “Smoky, The Cow Horse.” James, who lived in the American West in the early part of the 20th century, had a colorful life that included a stint in the Nevada State Prison for cattle rustling.
Luciano’s Bar & Restaurant: Exploring Cowboy Country can work up a painful hunger, and there’s no better place than Luciano's to cater to some hearty, culinary desires. Enjoy a variety of mouthwatering pastas, seafood, steaks and of course a full bar at Luciano's, all in the heart of downtown of Elko.
California trail interpretive center: Eight miles west of Elko, the center tells the story of America’s Westward expansion in the mid-19th century. Around 225,000 emigrants traveled the California Trail, which roughly follows today’s Interstate 80, between 1841 and 1869; their stories are told here through interactive exhibits.