Historic Reminders of the Killdeer Mountain Roundup

“Park those cars around the fence and we’ll see a rodeo from the hood of our car.” says no one, now. But that was how it was done in 1950 at the Killdeer Mountain Roundup Rodeo.

For nearly 100 years the Killdeer Mountain Roundup Rodeo entertained families at the start of summer, sometimes at the end of June, but most often around the Fourth of July Holiday. Below the hillsides of the eastern edge of the Killdeer Mountains, at the town of Oakdale, people lined up for the annual rodeo before it moved to town about 60 years ago, in 1955.

For 85 years, it was on a flat below the hills near Oakdale. North of Killdeer, to the west of Highway 22, Oakdale is just a faded memory today — and a cemetery.  But there was a time when it was the most popular town in the western part of the state. 

It boasted a rowdy saloon.

The Killdeer Mountain Roundup helped make Oakdale a thriving community.

North Dakota history is incomplete without a nod to the oldest continual sanctioned rodeo in the state. Read the history here.

Scroll down to see what the original Killdeer Mountain Roundup Rodeo grounds near Oakdale look like, today.


 Killldeer Mountain Roundup. started in Oakdale, north of Killdeer.

From the beginning at Oakdale, one of the trademark attractions to the Killdeer Rodeo was the hillside arena. This image from 1924 shows how the tradition started before the rodeo moved into Killdeer.

Killdeer Mountain Roundup

On top –The Killdeer Mountain Roundup attracted hundreds of spectators from across the region who bounced down old rutted gravel roads to park their jalopies on the hillside. Below — This is what that same valley looks like, these days.



Starting with the first gatherings at Oakdale in 1923, and continuing to today, the core group of locals put in the work to keep it going. The Killdeer Mountain Roundup Rodeo is the oldest Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) sanctioned rodeo in the state.   It’s the long tradition of local cowboy competition that makes this rodeo unique of all the rodeos in North Dakota.

Once again this summer, you’ll see cowboy action for the 99th year, now at the modern arena west of town on the Highway 22 bypass,

Then and now.  One of the many threads we like to follow. Sign up to get notice of the most recent story we write, you’ll be the first to now. Sign up box is in the upper right.

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