Vintage and silhouettes of a group of cowboys sitting on horseback at sunset.

National Cowboy Poetry Gathering 2024

JANUARY 29, 2024 - FEBRUARY 03, 2024


Six days of poetry, music, and crafts celebrating Western life and creativity — and redefining what it means to be cowboy.

Grab your lassos and cowboy hats and — poems? Yep, that’s the vibe at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, a six-day festival celebrating not only Western wordsmithing, but other related folk arts as well.  The gathering brings together local and national artists, representing a wide range of rural landscapes and cultures, from traditional American-adjacent music (think lonesome cowboy chords with a keening EDM-style drop) to folk arts like saddle making and lively square dancing.  

Things start slow Monday through Wednesday, with a few workshops and one evening show each day. Thursday through the weekend, the main gathering happens with workshops like Poetry and Sense of Place with Amy M. Hale, How-to Music Marketing with Paige Callaway, Perfect Pour (a history of cocktails) with Nick Heguy, and Leather Working Basics with Mark Barcus. Performances range from lively single band shindigs (including the Quebe Sisters, former fiddle champs and western swing innovators) to thematic variety shows about beef and solitude, among other things. And don’t miss learning the two-step or jitterbug at daily dances. 

The Specs 

  • About 6,000 people from across the country attend the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering each year. 
  • Single-day passes (Thursday – Saturday) cost $40, and allow access to daytime non-ticketed events, including poetry sessions, music sessions, films and discussion panels. 
  • Deluxe Passes costs $100, and allows access to daytime non-ticketed events for 3 days (Thursday – Saturday). 
  • Evening and special events like dances, some performances, and speciality workshops are ticketed separately. 
  • Discounts are available for Western Folklife Center members, people between the ages of 15 and 35, and working cowboys and ranchers. Check out all of the options here. 
  • Besides taking in the breathtaking and sparse Nevada landscape, spend some time in nearby Salt Lake City, Utah. And here‘s our guide to Nevada.


What is the closest airport to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering?

Getting to the Gathering is no walk in the park — Elko is smack in the middle of Nevada. If you’re flying on a budget, get tickets to Salt Lake City International Airport, then rent a car and drive 3.5 hours to Elko (225 miles). Or, fly into the Reno-Tahoe International Airport (4-5 hours, 300 miles). Alternatively, take Amtrak’s California Zephyr

Will I need a car to get around?

Not necessarily. A free shuttle runs between main Gathering venues Wednesday through Saturday (though it’s unfortunately not wheelchair accessible). 

Where should I stay?

Elko has plenty of hotels and camping options, some of which offer discounts for Gathering attendees. You can find some of the options here.

2024 Poster


BY Katherine James