La Fiesta de los Vaqueros: Tucson Rodeo

If you’re driving through Arizona in your RV, you cannot miss La Fiesta de los Vaqueros: Tucson Rodeo, a large outdoor winter rodeo.

Event information

La Fiesta de los Vaqueros, commonly called the Tucson Rodeo & Parade, is a rodeo celebration that takes place in Tucson, Arizona. It has held the status of being the largest winter rodeo that takes place outdoors in the U.S. As a result of this, it made it to the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 2008.

It first took place in 1925 and was conceptualized as a way to promote tourism in Tucson during the colder months. Since its inception, it has taken place every single year and grown into one of the top rodeo events in the country. In recent years, it has been run by the Tucson Rodeo Committee, a nonprofit organization.

Some of the best pro rodeo athletes in the world compete for the top prizes. Visitors to the rodeo can enjoy thrilling sports like bull riding, tie-down roping, bareback riding, women’s barrel racing, and steer wrestling. Vendors will be selling beautiful handmade products and delicious food at the extensive western marketplace.

There will be other wild west entertainment to keep visitors of all ages entertained. Each day of the event has activities for children like the Justin Junior Rodeo Exhibition and RAM Mutton Bustin’. The rodeo ends with a fun barn dance where guests can dance the night away.

Tickets

Ticket prices range from just under $20 to about $35, depending on the day you attend and the section you want to be seated in for the events. Visitors also have the option to purchase Vaquero Club tickets, which are priced at around $80. These include perks like complimentary parking, a catered lunch, and beverage tokens. VIP box seats are also available.

Children under the age of two may not require a ticket, but a separate seat will not be allotted to them. Take a look at the event website for more information on passes and pricing for the La Fiesta de los Vaqueros. Tickets for the barn dance can also be purchased on the site.

Transportation

Driving

La Fiesta de los Vaqueros takes place at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds in the Central Tucson District. It is a short drive away from the airport and the downtown area. You can find the rodeo grounds easily using your GPS app of choice, and there will also be signs to guide you there. Before planning your route, be sure to call 511 to check if any road alerts have been issued in Pima County.

Parking areas

Paid parking spots are available at the rodeo grounds. These tend to fill up fast, so make sure you get there early. Accessible parking spaces will be available close to the entrances. The lots are large, so it’s a good idea to make a mental note or take a picture of where you park your car.

Public Transportation

You can ride a bus operated by Sun Tran, the public transit system in Tucson. There are several bus routes that will get you to the grounds from different parts of the city. The closest stop is the Laos Transit Center, which is a short walk away from the venue.

Where to stay

Onsite

Camping or overnight parking is not available at La Fiesta de los Vaqueros. So, it’s recommended to reserve a spot at one of the campsites or RV parks in the area well in advance.

Nearby

Catalina State Park Campground, which is about 20 miles away from the venue, comes highly recommended by other RVers. It is on the smaller side but has some great hiking trails for the outdoor lover. Some campgrounds in the area are adult-only, so be sure to check ahead if you’re traveling with kids.

Getting around

Guests can easily get around on foot at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds. Strollers for children are permitted on the grounds, but will not be allowed in the stands. Patrons with disabilities can use manual or motorized wheelchairs. There are accessible viewing areas with ramp entry.

What to pack

Clothing

Tuscon winters are often not quite as harsh as other mountainous regions. Layers are advised since it is typically warmer during the day and much colder as the sun sets. The sun can still be harsh in the afternoons, and most of the seating areas aren't shaded. Be sure to wear protective clothing made from lightweight, breathable fabrics like cotton that will protect your skin. Opt for comfortable covered shoes rather than heels or sandals.

Gear

La Fiesta de los Vaqueros has a clear bag policy for carrying your gear. Small clutches will also be allowed. Carry sunscreen, a portable charger, hand sanitizer, and earplugs for children. Consider packing a seat cushion or a lightweight blanket to make your seat more comfortable. Take some cash, since some of the vendors don’t accept cards.

Health & Safety

You’re likely to be spending several hours under the dry desert sun. Protect yourself with sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. Adequate hydration is a must to avoid a trip to the first aid station. Remember to consider what safety features may be in place near the animals and their enclosures.

Where to eat

Cooking

Warming soups and stews are perfect for the chilly Arizona nights. These are also ideal if you’re too tired to cook an elaborate meal after a day at the rodeo. Always check with the manager of your campground before lighting a campfire. Several local and moderately sized food stores are located within a five-mile radius of the rodeo grounds.

Restaurants

Thanks to its popularity as a tourist destination, Tucson has a thriving culinary scene. The downtown area has a ton of options, including speakeasy-style bars, breweries, cafes, and fine dining restaurants. Visitors can also enjoy many different cuisines like authentic Mexican, Greek, Thai, and Indian food.

Vendors

Food stalls run by local chefs and caterers will be present throughout the venue. Be sure to try the corn on the cob, bacon cheeseburger plates, and cinnamon sugar fry bread. Food and drinks will also be available at the barn dance tent in the evenings. There will be vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options on offer as well.

Safety

Security

The safety of La Fiesta de los Vaqueros patrons is taken seriously, and security measures have been stepped up in recent years. All bags and belongings will be checked before entry, and you may be subjected to an airport-style pat-down. Security personnel will not only be present at the gates but also throughout the grounds.

Weather

Visitors to the area are typically treated with lots of sun and blue skies. February temperatures range in the 60s and lower 70s during the day. The nights can be considerably cooler and may drop into the 40s, so take plenty of warm clothing. Waterproof camping gear and apparel are recommended in case it does rain. If the event is called off due to severe weather, no exchanges or refunds will be given.

Medical

Basic onsite first aid will be available to patrons. Flag down one of the event staff members if you need medical assistance. There will be designated nursing and diaper changing areas for mothers. Allergy pens, tanks, and other medically necessary items will be allowed in after an inspection by security.