The Ellensburg Rodeo is an annual event that takes place during the Labor Day weekend in Ellensburg, Washington. It is considered one of America's top professional rodeos and is the second-largest in the Pacific Northwest, after the Calgary Stampede. It happens at the same time as the Kittitas County Fair, so many festival-goers choose to make the most of their long weekend by enjoying both the events.
The Ellensburg Rodeo was first started in 1923, making it one of the oldest rodeos in the country. It began as a small competition among local ranch hands. Since then, it's popularity has grown in leaps and bounds. It is now a professional competition featuring over 600 contenders with a large amount of prize money on offer.
The Rodeo takes place over five days, and the performances last about three hours each. A highlight of the event is "Xtreme Bulls," a sell-out competition featuring tough bull riding and pyrotechnics. It attracts rodeo professionals from all over the country. In addition to the rodeo, there are plenty of other attractions that guests can enjoy like carnival and midway rides, dancing, musical performances, and of course, the Kittitas County Fair.
You can purchase single-day rodeo passes or opt for the rodeo plus music bundle. They range in price from around $16 for the single-day rodeo pass to $60 for the bundle. In past years, some tickets options have included same-day fair admission, so guests can look to attend both the Ellensburg Rodeo and the Kittitas County Fair. You may also be able to visit the Yakama Indian Village.
Passes for the "Xtreme Bulls" event will need to be purchased separately. Rodeo performances are approximately two to three hours in length. Take a look at the Ellensburg Rodeo website for more information on tickets and pricing.
Your drive to Ellensburg is destined to be beautiful and may include natural backdrops like Mt. Rainier National Park and the Columbia River Gorge. The event takes place at the Ellensburg Rodeo Grounds, which is just barely north of I-90. RV motorists will appreciate the outdoor environment of Central Washington but will want to keep in mind that roads may bend and wind crossing through this area of the Rocky Mountains. Have your navigator at the ready in the passenger seat to help the driver stay alert.
Daily parking and overnight parking is available about ten minutes away from the rodeo grounds at one of the Central Washington University lots. There is a free shuttle service available to get guests from the parking lot to the venue and back. RV parking usually opens mid-afternoon on the first day of the rodeo, so you may want to get there early and nab a spot.
If you'd prefer to park your rig at your campsite and take public transportation to the event, the best way to get there is by taking a bus. In past years, guests have found a stop nearby at 1100 E. University Way. This will involve about a 10-minute walk to the venue. You also have the option of using a taxi service or a ride-sharing app.
If you'd like to camp overnight at the event, there are two onsite camping options available to festival patrons. You can park at Central Washington University's N-19 lot, or you can try looking at the corner of 18th and Alder. However, these sites don't come with many facilities, so you may need to look elsewhere if you want a more camp-like experience.
Ellensburg is a great year-round camping location that is situated at the geographic center of Washington. There are some great campgrounds, just 10 to 15 minutes away from the rodeo arena by vehicle. They are located close to the river and come with facilities like full hookups, big-rig access, recreational trails, and laundry services. Ellensburg KOA Journey may bring you great delight along the Yakima River just under four miles from the rodeo grounds.
Bikes, scooters, skates, skateboards, ATVs, or any other personal vehicles will not be allowed at the Ellensburg Rodeo Arena. Most parts of the site are navigable by wheelchair. Patrons with mobility disabilities are requested to contact the ticket office when placing orders for seating or any other requests.
Get in the spirit of the rodeo by donning a pair of cowboy boots, western shirt, blue denim, and a hat. Every year, the Ellensburg Rodeo sponsors a "Tough Enough To Wear Pink" day to promote breast cancer awareness. If you're attending on that day, consider supporting the cause by wearing pink.
At the Ellensburg Rodeo, things can get messy fast. Carry a packet of wipes and hand sanitizer in your bag. It's a good idea to take earplugs, especially if you're with children since it may get quite loud. A few other essentials that can come in handy are sunscreen, sunglasses, and a portable charger.
Cow or horse dander can trigger allergies, so take some eye drops or an antihistamine if you are prone to need them. Be sure to stay hydrated and eat some of the delicious food on offer to keep your energy up. It can get quite crowded, so follow the buddy system or stay close to your group.
Open fires will not be allowed at the overnight parking lots close to the venue. It's a good idea to have a few essentials on hand like bread, deli meats, and other sandwich fillings. Many of the campgrounds in the area have onsite convenience stores, or you can stock up on the supplies you need within the community of Ellensburg.
Ellensburg is a charming town with some wonderful homegrown eateries showcasing the freshest local ingredients. There are incredible burgers, fresh bagels, milkshakes, pies, and other delicious American favorites to be had. You may also find Mexican and Japanese fare on offer if you're in the mood for something different.
Top local restaurants and caterers will be selling their food at the rodeo. Several parts of the venue will be designated as food zones. Whether you're in the mood for a rodeo favorite like funnel cake or something more exotic, you'll find it here. There are also multiple locations on the grounds where you can purchase alcoholic beverages.
Your bags and belongings will be checked at the rodeo entrances. You may exit and re-enter the grounds as you please, as long as you get your hand stamped. While strollers can be brought into the arena, guests are responsible for their use. So, it's essential to be vigilant at all times.
Fall weather in the State of Washington is typically pleasant during the day, but guests will always want to look out for a bit of rain. It can get chilly at night, so make sure you go prepared with some warm clothing. The Ellensburg Rodeo will continue, rain or shine. No refunds or exchanges will be given in the case of a last minute cancellation.
Trained medics will be available at the rodeo arena to provide first aid or medical assistance to anyone who needs it. Service animals with proper paperwork will be allowed. Patrons with disabilities can contact the organizers in advance for any special requests or information regarding the facilities available to them.