It’s a crazy day in Steamboat when top rodeo cowboys come blasting into the base area for the Bud Light Cowboy Downhill, which comes back to Steamboat for the 40th year Monday, Jan. 20.

Pro Rodeo Champions from across North America, as well as Australia, Canada, Europe and Mexico, are invited to do some skiing at Steamboat and take a break from the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo being held in Denver. They mosey on into the Yampa Valley for some time on the snow.

The Cowboy Downhill was started 40 years ago by six-time All-Around World Champion Cowboy Larry Mahan, and Steamboat’s Director of Skiing & Olympic Medalist Billy Kidd. It is free to watch.

The fun begins Sunday night, Jan. 19, with the Balloon Glow and Cowboy Up Party. Shortly after sunset, six hot air balloons will light up the night at the base area by igniting their burners. It’s mesmerizing and something that is also done every summer. The Cowboy Up Party is immediately after at the Bear River Bar & Grill, which is also at the base area. Banks & Shane will be playing.

The real craziness kicks in at 1 p.m. Monday with the dual slalom. The cowboys race through the slalom gates and over the big jump. They then lasso a person, saddle a horse and cross the finish line as fast as they can and all in one piece. The grand finale of the 40th Bud Light Cowboy Downhill is a chaotic western stampede on skis and snowboards, chaps and cowboy hats. The Stampede utilizes a mass start and pits cowboy against cowboy in a winner-takes-all race. The greatest challenge for the winner is getting out of the way of a hundred other cowboys hurling down the hill in hot pursuit. 

After the Stampede, Shooter Jennings will play a free concert on the Steamboat Stage. Shooter is the son of country legends Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter.

Monday night is the Cowboy Downhill Gala atop the Steamboat Gondola at 7 p.m. It includes a Western BBQ, music from Banks & Shane, and the regular crazy cowboy tales and dancing you would expect from a group of professional bull riders. Gala tickets are $85 with limited availability and must be purchased in advance through Steamboat Central Reservations at 1-800-922-2722.  

“There’s no other event like the Bud Light Cowboy Downhill, one of the most popular and unique events in sports,” said Rob Perlman, senior vice president of sales & marketing for Steamboat. “Professional Cowboys are about the heat of competition, and Steamboat knows competition better than any ski resort in the country, so combining the two for the entertainment of all is a natural fit.”