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By Joe VegasVegasmonorail

Historically, December was a slow time for a Las Vegas vacation.

It’s not easy to think “holidays” when you’re in a city with virtually no fir trees and whose neon-lit Strip easily outshines the most audacious Christmas-light display.

That changed when the National Finals Rodeo came to town in 1985.

And from now through December 15, Vegas is a whoopin’, hollerin’, beer-drinkin’, bronc-ridin’ heck of a good time.

Tens of thousands of cowboys and their cowgals flood the town with leather, hats, chaps and chaw for those 10 days, with the NFR rodeo selling some 175,000 tickets.

But where to go to watch this wind-burned parade of humanity, now that Gilley’s went away with the closure and impending implosion of The Frontier? Well, there’s always the Thomas & Mack, which is the UNLV auditorium where the rodeo is held.

More to the point — imbibery and fun — I’ve found two places, one almost brand new, and one ancient, that no self-respecting cowboy, or cowboy wannabe, would want to miss during a Las Vegas vacation.

The new place is Stoney’s Rockin’ Country, which is south of Mandalay Bay on Las Vegas Boulevard. Walk in here on any Thursday — which happens to be Ladies’ Night; no cover and $1 drinks for the missus — and I swear it feels like you walked onto the set of “Urban Cowboy.” Dudes in stevedores and women in perfectly tight jeans and cowboy boots boot-scootin’ the night away.

But my Holy Grail of westernized taverns is The Pioneer. This place, with corrugated tin full of Colt-45 bullet holes — or so you might imagine — is a fantastic hole-in-the-wall, about 35 miles southeast of Las Vegas in the middle of the desert near the amiably named town of Goodsprings.

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When not out ropin’ doggies, Joe Vegas is wranglin’ up drinks and fun on the Las Vegas Strip. Yee-hah.

Tagged: Las Vegas

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MaryJo Lipman

MaryJo Lipman

MaryJo Lipman

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