Near the Mississippi River in Fort Madison, Iowa, is an event that you’re not going to want to miss. Starting at Labor Weekend and running for four days, the Tri-State Rodeo at 2103 303rd Avenue is one of the most significant rodeos on the PRCA’s Great Lake circuit.
Some of the best names in the industry go head to head at this venue, and it’s all for spectator entertainment and accolades. Over this fall event, you can enjoy fast-paced rodeo action, specialty acts, national music acts, and even a party pavilion.
From tie-down roping and bull riding, through to bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, and barrel racing, the Tri-State Rodeo offers it all. During your visit to Fort Madison, you can also camp right next door, meaning you don’t have to travel all that far to let out your inner cowboy.
The Tri-State Rodeo has been an integral part of Iowa’s history since 1948, and thousands of people have continued to make their way to Fort Madison ever since. However, it’s not all about the rodeo action in this Lee County city. Fort Madison is also home to some fantastic tourist attractions, such as the Historic Iowa State Penitentiary, the North Lee County Historical Society, and Old Fort Madison.
If you’re stuck for something to do this fall in September, then an RV road trip across Iowa might be the answer. Let the Mississippi River guide the way.
Don’t wait too long to secure your tickets to the Tri-State Rodeo in Fort Madison, for they sell out fast. You can purchase them from the Tri-State Rodeo website, with separate tickets for each of the four days. In the past, general admission ticket pricing has varied between $20 and $30 per day per event.
With farmland and pasture for as far as the eye can see, your RV trip to Tri-State Rodeo in fall is bound to be pleasant. Small townships break up the scenery from time to time, as does the stunning Mississippi River that splits Iowa and Illinois. There may be toll roads along the way. To be on the safe side, remain up to date with traffic information with an app such as Iowa 511.
There are many different ways to get to Fort Madison, with US-61 the main route. You can then get to the Tri-State Rodeo by taking Exit 24 off the bypass. It’s north of Fort Madison on 15th Street, with access to the venue from the north.
Upon arriving at the Tri-State Rodeo, you can park on the north side if you come from the Fort Madison bypass. There is also more parking from X32, which may also be seen as 303rd Avenue, by the old airport runway and in the grass lot, south of the arena. Parking is on a first-in, first-served basis, and you are not likely to run into any problems trying to find day parking for your RV in the area.
If you’d prefer to park your RV off-site and make your way to the venue by alternative means, then there are plenty of options to choose. A shuttle bus has run in past years with stops in the center of town, accommodation providers, parking lots, and the adjacent campground. Alternatively, there are private ride service providers in operation, too.
Non-reserved camping is available at the park next to the Tri-State Rodeo arena. You can park your RV, use a generator, keep your dog, and use approved fire rings and containers for cooking. There are also showers in the camping area. While you can’t use ATVs or golf carts in the camp area, and there are no service hookups, you’re bound to have a pleasant stay in this gorgeous region.
If you’re not prepared for off-the-grid camping, then there are nearby campgrounds that can be of service. Expand your search to around 15 miles and enjoy the abundance of options in the area. There is even a campground within a half-mile of the rodeo arena, meaning you can walk to and from the action within ten minutes each way.
Getting around the Tri-State Rodeo will not be challenging on foot. The venue is a packed dirt lot with grandstands dotted around it and parking on the outskirts. If you need to get from the rodeo to the campsite, you can jump aboard a shuttle. Wheeled transport such as golf carts and ATVs are not allowed at the rodeo or campsites.
While it starts to cool down in Fort Madison in September, that doesn’t mean you need to pass up on summer attire. The days are comfortable enough for either long or short-sleeved shirts, and all you need is comfortable footwear and a cowboy hat to match. Once night falls, the mercury can, too. Bring a few winter woollies just in case. Don't forget to wear your favorite rodeo hat or boots to round out your experience.
With grandstand seating to view most of the rodeo action, you’ll need to pack light and smart. Leave any noisemakers or large items back at your RV, and consider bringing only a few things you might need. Cash and a small pack should help you clear security quickly and be into the premium viewing areas in no time.
While the weather is unlikely to be uncomfortably hot, it still wouldn’t hurt to bring a few sun protection supplies with you. Sunscreen, plenty of drinking water, sunglasses, and a hat should all be at the top of your list. If you require any prescription medication, bring these along, too. Remind children not to touch the animals unless direction is given related to petting the livestock.
When you head back to your RV after a night of entertainment and rodeo events, you may feel it’s timely to cook a feast. You have free range to use your onboard RV appliances in the adjacent park, but not to light any ground fires. You can also use your generator if necessary. For convenience, stock up on cooking supplies before you get to the rodeo. The nearest supply store is around two and a half miles away.
When you’re in a new town or city, it’s always an excellent idea to dine in their restaurants to see what new adventures you might find. Fort Madison has plenty to offer. From burger and breakfast chains through to Chinese and Mexican cuisine, pizza, and sandwiches; you’re spoiled for choice. You’ll never go hungry during your stay in Fort Madison.
With so much family fun, music, and rodeo happening all at once, it’s easy to work up a hunger and thirst. Tri-State Rodeo delivers on refreshments with a range of concession stands. Most accept cash but bring a mixture of payment types to avoid missing out on your preferred choice. In the past, guests who organize their visit in advance can also be a part of the pancake breakfasts, chili suppers, and pork dinners.
Security personnel is made up of local organizations and will be fully trained to keep visitors as safe as possible. Any bags or people may be checked at any time. You can speed up any screening processes by attending the event with few possessions. When you leave your RV, make sure you lock it up tight and place any desirable items out of sight. If you require police assistance at any time, travel to the Fort Madison City Offices around two miles from the rodeo arena.
Temperatures in Fort Madison during September in fall don’t usually reach above 80, but they also very rarely hit under 60. You may be in for a comfortable visit to the area, but always pay attention to weather apps so that you’re not caught out by any extremes. It’s also helpful to carry a rain jacket and umbrella, for rain can fall when you least expect it as well.
There will be a dedicated first aid area at the rodeo arena, with trained personnel to take care of minor injuries and illnesses. If you would prefer to visit a hospital or pharmacy for a problem you encounter, Fort Madison has both. There is a community hospital around five miles from the rodeo and a pharmacy within three miles.