Authentic Americana

Miss Rodeo ND carries the flag at Killdeer Mountain Roundup Rodeo

Spontaneous patriotism. No one tells the crowd to stand, or remove hats, or place hands on hearts. These folks do it as soon as they see Ol’ Glory.

Even before this part of the North American continent had states, cowboys raised cattle here to feed America.  It is physically hard, demanding job. These guys are tough athlets and to prove it, they created 3-way contests. Cowboy vs Cowboy vs Animal.  

It is the original X Games and makes football seem like a sport for the timid.  These guys go up against half-ton animals, using the skills they’ve mastered out on the range. 

It’s called Rodeo!

Got an unruly steer that just wants to run off on its own? Wrestle it!

steer wrestling Killdeer Mountain Roundup Rodeo

Wrestling that runaway steer to the ground.


Got a new horse that has not yet been socialized and doesn’t know how to work with humans? Ride it anyway!

Killdeer Mountain Roundup Rodeo

Killdeer Mountain Rodeo Roundup

This activity has been going on for two centuries or longers out here in “The West.”  The Killdeer Mountain Roundup Rodeo is the oldest professional sanctioned rodeo in North Dakota.  Even when other rodeos took a couple years off because the young cowboys were fighting the Germans and Japanee in WW2, the Killdeer Mountain Roundup Rodeo continued — with the old guys, the old cowboys who were too old to be drafted. They weren’t too old to compete. And so, they kept the tradition alive!

Killdeer Mountain Roundup Rodeo crows on hillside

The Killdeer Mountain Rodeo Roundup has a tradition of being in a natural basin so spectators can sit on the hillside.

Even the parking lot represents this part of the nation.  How many sporting events have you been to where the parking lot is pickup trucks?

A Fourth of July Tradition

Every July 3 and 4, these patriots mark America’s birthday with a contest to see who’s the best in the tasks of taking care of cattle.  The Killdeer Mountain Roundup Rodeo started 95 years ago at Oakdale. 

History shows the attraction of the Killldeer Mountain Roundup. It 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 in to Killdeer.

Then, it moved to the outskirts of the town of Killdeer.  The town grew up around the rodeo arena and so, the cowboys picked up and moved back to the edge of the Killdeer Mountains. Entirely by donations, in one year they raised enough money and volunteer help to build a world-class outdoor arena.

The official opening night of the 2018 Killdeer Mountain Roundup Rodeo was a family event, and there were plenty of kids. Some playing, some ready to go to work.

lil rodeo clown sits on fence at Killdeer Mountain Roundup Rodeo

His dad was one of the clowns, and there’s no doubt he’ll follow in his dad’s footsteps.

Killdeer Mountain Roundup Rodeo

Lil Cowboy gives up on the bounce houses and heads back to the action


This year’s opening rodeo proved these contestants ain’t no wimps.  Yes, there was over an inch of rain 12 hours before they got started. But the mud was a universal challenge for each cowboy to show he ain’t afeard of no dadgum mud. 








Now you have to wait until next year to see authentic Americana in the heart of cowboy country.  This is where the Long X trail ended on it’s snake-like meandering up from Texas. It’s where Texas Cowboys came to market their cattle back east in the 1860’s. It’s where cattle still outnumber people.  Chances are some of that beef you grilled this weekend started as a calf here in Dunn County, North Dakota, and these cowboys got it to your table.

Coming Up

Stick around. Beautiful Badlands ND has an idea for you and your family coming up.  A very impressive, bright and family oriented scavenger hunt — at a museum!

Next week, we promise to give you a taste of BBQ cooked on a controversial piece of pipe.

Oh, and as you may already know. The Beautiful Badlands ND calendar will keep you posted on events you can attend this summer.

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