Head ’em up, move ’em out: A roundup of roundups in the West
Roundups usually involve gathering cattle, sheep or horses, but they can also include bison and rattlesnakes. Here are five places to watch or participate when it comes time to round ’em up.
Sombrero Ranches’ Great American Horse Drive, an authentic horse drive in northwest Colorado, means you’ll see horses trotting through the town of Maybell on Mother’s Day.
Along with the horse drive, the Maybell Heritage Days event includes plenty of vendors and activities for families. The town is home to the Old Victory Hotel, which dates to 1894, and more lodging is available in nearby Craig, Colo.
Dates, info: May 9 and 10; bit.ly/maybellhorsedrive
The Trailing of the Sheep Festival runs each fall in the Sun Valley area of Idaho. This festival aims to celebrate the 150-plus-year tradition of moving sheep from high mountain summer pastures down to winter grazing.
The five-day event culminates with the Big Sheep Parade, in which 1,500 sheep hoof it down Main Street in Ketchum.
Dates, info: Oct. 7-11; trailingofthesheep.org
Custer State Park, S.D.
Watch as cowpokes round up and drive a herd of 1,300 buffalo during the annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup and Arts Festival.
Spectators must stay in the viewing areas until the herd is safely in the corrals. The buffalo are then sorted, branded and tested, and some are selected for the fall auction. The park’s grasslands can support only about 1,000 animals through the winter, so the 300 or so surplus buffalo are sold at the annual auction. Revenues help support South Dakota parks.
Buyers from all over the U.S. and Canada have purchased these bison and started their own herds from this roundup, a 50-year-old tradition. The bison, which once faced extinction, can now be found across North America.
This festival also includes a pancake breakfast and buffalo barbecue lunch along with entertainment under the big top and arts and crafts vendors selling products made in South Dakota.
Dates, info: Sept. 24-26; bit.ly/SDbuffaloroundup
If you’d rather be participating, consider a driving vacation, as in cattle driving.
Guests at Bitterroot Ranch, where cattle graze adjacent to Wyoming’s Shoshone National Forest, can help herd the cows into the mountains the first week of July and drive them again the last week of September.
You won’t be bedding down in the dirt and eating around the campfire, though. You’ll return to your cabin each day and have your breakfast and dinner in the main lodge; lunches will be on the trail. The Fall Cattle Roundup costs about $2,900 (including gratuities) per person.
Dates, info: Last week of June/first week of July and last week of September; bitterrootranch.com.
The World’s Largest Rattlesnake Roundup — which takes place each March in Sweetwater — includes a rattlesnake parade, snake-eating contest and the Miss Snake Charmer Pageant. This event is at the Nolan County Coliseum in Newman Park.
“Pasadena has its roses and its Rose Parade,” former Mayor Greg Wortham is quoted as saying on the website. “Sweetwater doesn’t have roses. We have rattlesnakes.”
Dates, info: March 12-15; bit.ly/sweetwatersnakeroundup
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