Shine up your boots, dust off your cowboy hat and get ready to head on up to Navajo country in northeastern Arizona because it’s rodeo time! Sometimes referred to as “Cowboy Christmas,” the Navajo Nation’s Fourth of July Celebration and Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) Pro-Rodeo is coming to Window Rock, Arizona, and offers contestants the chance to win big.

When most parts of the state are sizzling, the capital of the Navajo Nation in Window Rock may just be the cool breeze you’re looking for. Window Rock can be quiet and peaceful by day, but it roars with excitement at night. That’s because the Navajo Nation hosts its Annual Fourth of July PRCA Pro-Rodeo here in the heart of the Four Corners every year.

The only American Indian Fourth of July Photo (2).jpgtribe in North America to host this Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association-sanctioned event, spectators will capture the spirit of the rustic West when top caliber cowboys and cowgirls take center stage in northeastern Arizona. So pack your bags and join in the “oohs” and the “ahs” as you take in the thundering team of horses, cattle and - of course - the fast moving professional cowboys and cowgirls in rodeo action during the events.

Professional rodeo athletes refer to this event as “Cowboy Christmas” because of the large number of events taking place during this weekend, giving them more opportunities to pocket their winnings. It is said that rodeo is the number one sport here on the Navajo Nation, with more Indian rodeos held here than anywhere else in the country.

Visitors coming for the rodeo spectacle will find plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding areas. Within the Window Rock vicinity, there are several hotels and restaurants, including the St. Michaels Indian Market that features traditional Navajo cuisine such as lamb stew, fry bread, tortillas and Navajo tacos. If you want to buy direct from a Navajo artist, make sure you make time to stop here – it is located at the junction of Arizona State Highway 264 and Indian Route 12.

Fourth of July Photo (3).jpgOther points of interest in Window Rock include the Navajo Nation Council Chambers, which houses an artistic rendition of early Navajo history. Another attraction is the only tribally-owned zoo in the country, the Navajo Nation Zoo, which is a sanctuary for various animals and birds that are indigenous to the region. Also, the Navajo Nation Museum is a great site to see, which features a wonderful interpretive video of Navajo culture, exhibits of Navajo history and a gift shop. Visitors can also enjoy the Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprise, which has an array of exquisite hand-made Navajo products such as jewelry, moccasins, pottery, rugs and other Navajo products.

The July Fourth extravaganza will be held at the Navajo Nation Fairgrounds just off Arizona State Highway 264 from July 2-6, 2014. For more information about the Fourth of July PRCA Pro-Rodeo, the Navajo Nation Fair or our tribal parks, visit: navajonationfair.com or navajonationparks.org

Roberta John is a Senior Economic Development Specialist at the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department.  Prior to working there, she worked at the Navajo Tourism Department for several years to promote the Navajo Nation. Roberta is a part of the Arizona Office of Tourism's Guest Blogger program.