Story Idea: 8 Ways to Discover Your Inner Cowboy

Movie legends John Wayne and Clint Eastwood created lasting memories for a generation by playing cowboys on the big screen. Why let someone else live the adventure? Let North Dakota be the backdrop as you discover your inner cowboy (or cowgirl) on the trail.

1. Watch the REAL Cowboys
A century ago, cowboys broke broncs and roped cattle as a way of life. They still do that today, and you can watch in rodeo arenas throughout North Dakota. Watch as cowboys and cowgirls compete in the events that shaped the American West. Catch a rodeo during the remainder of the summer, and start your fall with the North Dakota Rodeo Association and Roughrider Rodeo Association finals in September. http://www.ndtourism.com/whatdo/activities/western-experience/ 

2. Cowboy Wannabe?
Gun play was part of the Old West and that experience is kept alive today through Cowboy Action Shooting competitions. Events are staged Old West style and open to the public. http://www.thespiritoftheoldwest.com/Oldwest-CowboyActionShooting-Clubs.htm

3. Cowboy Up at the State Fair
It doesn't get more North Dakota than the State Fair, which features the NPRA Bull-A-Rama, all kinds of horse shows, a showdeo and a ranch rodeo. Thrill seekers can also test their skills on the mechanical bull … We dare you! www.ndstatefair.com

4. Saddle Up
North Dakota has hundreds of miles of horseback riding trails. There are trails throughout the state, from Theodore Roosevelt National Park to the Pembina Gorge for those who don't own a horse but want to see the country up close, the cowboy way. There also are trails across the state for those who have their own horses and are looking for new sights to see. www.ndtourism.com/whatdo/activities/horseback-riding/ 

5. Celebrate the Horse Culture
July 27th to the 29th, leave the car at home and experience life in days of old at Taylor Horsefest. It's a weekend for and about horses. This celebration of the horse culture includes a parade of horses and horse-drawn equipment, craft vendors, driving competitions, demonstrations, music and cowboy poetry. All activities for this festival are done by horse or horse and buggy. www.taylorhorsefest.com/

6. Tales and Tails
The North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame in Medora is an absolute must for anyone interested in horses and cowboys and American Indians and their relationships on the northern Great Plains. Artifacts and displays make this attraction a must-see. www.northdakotacowboy.com

7. Overnight on the Trail 
When a day ride on your own horse isn't enough, there are many opportunities to pack a bag and sleep out under the stars. There are several horse camps and corrals to accommodate travelers with their own horses so take your time and enjoy the ride. http://www.ndtourism.com/whatdo/activities/horseback-riding/

8. Act the Ranch Hand
Have you ever wanted to rise with the sun, do the chores, round up and brand cattle until the dinner bell and drift off to sleep with the setting sun? If you have, a ranch vacation is what you're looking for. www.ndtourism.com/whatdo/activities/western-experience/