Summer Festivals, Rodeos, Museums & Events Deliver Entertainment & Education About The West

The best way to learn about the West is to hit the road and experience it first-hand. And now that school is done for the year and the days are longer, there’s no better time to check out the dizzying number of opportunities across the region.

There’s something for everybody: balloon launches, rodeos, county fairs, polo matches, and music festivals. And don’t miss the myriad museums that highlight the region’s history, including dinosaurs, Native American traditions and cowboy lore.

It all adds up to entertainment that educates – and there’s no final exam! Here’s a look at some of the highlights across the Rocky Mountain West.

Festival Outlook

Colorado: The state hosts a wide variety of events during the summer months, including extensive classical music and dance festivals in Vail and Aspen, as well as pop music gatherings such as the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in Lyons, and events such as Buffalo Bill Days in Golden, which should include a visit to the nearby Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave. (More details.) Looking to soar? Check out these balloon festivals across the state.

Montana: There’s something for everyone across the state, from the extreme sports Evel Knievel Days (July 26-28) in Butte to the Huckleberry Festival in Trout Creek. Find more festivals. Music fans will want to check out music gatherings such as Red Ants Pants Music Festival (July 28-31) in White Sulphur Springs. (More music) And don’t miss the Big Sky Balloon Rally (July 22-24) in Billings.

New Mexico: Things get other-worldly at the Roswell UFO Festival (July 1-3), and there’s plenty of down to earth fun at other events. Looking for music? Get details on the Four Corners Jam Festival in August and other concerts here. And while it’s not a summer event, everyone should consider attending the  Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (Oct. 1-9) at least once.

Utah: Balloon Fest (July 1-4) in Provo attracts more than 25,000 spectators to daily launches. It’s part of the Freedom Festival, which features concerts by the likes of Tim McGraw. And there is an array of events across the state that focus on the fruits of the land, from Cherry Days (July 3) to Orchard Days (July 30) to the Bear Lake Raspberry Days Festival (Aug. 3-6). (Details) The Country Fan Fest (July 27-30) in Tooele figures to be finger-pickin’ fun.

Wyoming: Flaming Gorge Days (June 23-25) celebrates its 65th anniversary in Green River with music and other entertainment. Or travel back in time at the 1838 Rendezvous. (More Events) And check out  balloon festivals in Riverton (July 17) and Casper (July 29-31). You can also groove to the tunes at music events such as the Oyster Ridge Music Festival. More music.

Summer Rodeos

Colorado: The Greeley Stampede (June 23-July 4) is celebrating its 100th anniversary pretty much the same way it always has: with a blowout two-week event featuring PRCA Rodeo, music stars like Brad Paisley in concert, and even a demolition derby. Details. And find more rodeos around the state here.          

Montana: Get your kicks watching the expert Professional Bull Riders do battle with the beasts in Big Sky (July 21-23). And there are a variety of other rodeos across the state all summer long in locations such as Big Fork (July 5-8), Ennis (July 3-4) , Helena ((July 28-30), and Lewiston (July 27-28). Details.

New Mexico: The rodeo calendar in the Land of Enchantment includes the Smokey Bear Stampede, Grants Rodeo, and Clovis Rodeo. Details.

Utah: The Western Stampede brings PRCA Rodeo to West Jordan. And also consider the Ogden Pioneer Day Rodeo and Wasatch County Fair & Rodeo. Details.

Wyoming: The folks in Cheyenne call Frontier Days (July 22-31) the “World’s Largest Outdoor Rodeo & Celebration,” and who can argue that? Think “State Fair on Steroids” with big music acts (Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Kid Rock), the “Daddy of them All” PRCA Rodeo and a bull riding competition. Find all event details and also consider a visit to the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum. Want more? The Sheridan WYO Rodeo is a top-notch competition, as is the Cody Stampede Rodeo.  Or check out these smaller rodeos across the state.

And there’s more!

Land Conservation Benefits

Love barbecue? Want to support the conservation of working lands? Attend the 2022 Forever Colorado BBQ benefiting the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust on Aug. 13 in Buena Vista. In Wyoming? Join the Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust for a Fundraiser & BBQ that celebrates land conservation in that state.


Museums across the West serve up history and tradition. Consider visiting Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site: in Colorado, the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum in Montana, the Georgia O’Keefe Museum and in New Mexico, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. The Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, serves up a dazzling array of history as well as the dazzling Whitney Western Art Museum.

Polo Anyone?

The area around Big Horn area in northern Wyoming has long been a polo pony training area. Even better, they play matches that are free and open to the public every Thursday and Saturday during July and August (Schedule). Learn more about Flying H Polo, which organizes the games. And once you’re done, head over to the nearby Bighorn National Forest.

Go the Distance

They think “long” when they race in Leadville. As in, 100 miles long. That distance might be covered on foot (Leadville Trail 100 Run) or on a mountain bike (Leadville Trail 100 Mtb).  

Visit the Leadville Race Series page for all the details. Or just go up to Leadville for the heck of it, maybe even for Boom Days in August, when you can watch Burro Racing!

2019 Forever Colorado BBQ

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