Rooftop offers an escape

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Estes Park’s accommodations allow contestants a break from rodeo trail

ESTES PARK, Colo. – For those that don’t know, Rooftop Rodeo is a big deal.

Not only has it been a tremendous community event for 93 years, but it has reached the national stage as far as professional rodeo is concerned. This year’s rodeo is set for 7 p.m. Monday, July 8-Saturday, July 13, at Granny May Arena in Estes Park inside the Estes Park Fairgrounds.

Over the years, Rooftop Rodeo has been named Rodeo of the Year six times, most recently in 2017 as the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association’s Medium Rodeo of the Year.

“When a committee goes above and beyond for those cowboys, they deserve the awards,” said Taci Bettis, the 2017 Rooftop Rodeo champion barrel racer from Round Top, Texas. “When you put in that much effort, that’s what you get.”

Estes Park served as a starting point for Bettis, who has made the National Finals Rodeo each of the past two seasons.

“That was part of those weeks in July when I set everything off,” said Bettis, the 2017 WPRA Rookie of the Year. “I’d never been at that arena before, so it was special.”

A great arena and a picturesque setting are just parts of the experience for ProRodeo’s stars. Estes Park has outstanding accommodations and terrific dining options. More importantly, there are so many things to do, from go-cart tracks to golf to simply visiting Rocky Mountain National Park.

In fact, several contestants arrive early or stay late so they can enjoy a bit of a vacation in the Rockies and take a break from the heat of the summer rodeo run.

“I grew up in Colorado, so I’ve been coming here since Little Britches Rodeo,” said K.C. Jones, a nine-time NFR qualifier originally from Los Animas, Colorado. “I was telling the guys in the rig that the good thing about Estes Park is there’s a lot to do.”

Contestants that are making the trip can learn more at Or they can as Rooftop Rodeo veterans, who take advantage of the location for a little R&R. A few years ago, saddle bronc rider Hardy Braden set his schedule so he was in town for several days before and after his appearance.

“I try to make it a regular stop,” said Braden, a 2017 NFR qualifier from Welch, Oklahoma. “It’s on the way normally. We just came from Vernal (Utah). This is a beautiful place, so I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to just come hang out.”


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