Courtesy Photo, Colorado Buffaloes Football Facebook

All About Game Day at CU


On the surface, it’s all about the football. But game day at the University of Colorado in Boulder is also about community. And that community comes together to celebrate before, during and after the games with fun traditions and tailgating.

Ultimate Guide to Boulder’s Neighborhoods

This article is part of a larger series. To see all the articles in this Ultimate Guide, click here.

Here’s your game day guide for attending a CU-Boulder Buffs game.

The Kick Off

The Pearl Street Stampede is where you want to be to kick off CU home football games on Fridays. Fans head to the Pearl Street Mall, specifically the 1300 block (in front of the Boulder County Courthouse), and around 7 p.m. the Golden Buffalo Marching Band fires up its instruments. The band and a mini parade walks westward, following a vintage 1948 fire truck, performing along the way to get the crowd fired up.

The Aug. 31 stampede (actually on a Thursday) for the game vs. state rivals Colorado State University will be especially exciting.

Watch a video of the Pearl Street Stampede here.

Where to Tailgate

CU’s tailgating is spread out across campus in parking lots. The best spots tend to be closer to the practice fields by Folsom Field because there is shade and it’s a quick walking distance to the field.

Franklin Field to the right of the stadium is a great spot to tailgate or walk through, if you can’t score your own parking spot (which you probably can’t; season ticket holders and donors are the main fans here).

Other spots to try are Business Field or Observatory Field. To get a spot, you’ll need to show up at least four hours before the game starts.

Ralphie’s Corral is the official tailgate, hosted by the Alumni Association in Duane Field. It’s free and open to anyone. People begin partying about three hours before the game starts. Bonus: This is where the mascot pre-parties. Get a selfie with Ralphie the buffalo, while listening to the CU Marching Band and a DJ; munching on concessions; and watching the Spirit Team perform. The family-friendly gathering has games for kids and giveaways, too. The next Ralphie’s Corral event is 2-5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1, before the big Rocky Mountain Showdown.

Off campus, the Millennium Harvest House Hotel is a popular place to tailgate. There’s a bit of a trek to get from the hotel to the stadium, but this is generally the most popular pre-game hotel. If you’re not staying at the Harvest House, ask your hotel’s front desk where to pre-game.

What to Bring

Food and drink is obvious. Many people bring beer (try Buffalo Gold by Boulder Beer for good luck). Sandwiches, burgers, popcorn, chips and hot dogs are other popular tailgate munchies. Many people also bring games to set up in the parking lot, like beer pong or cornhole. Here’s a Buff pride playlist a fan even set up to play before the game: Buffalo’s Tailgate.

Where to Park

Traffic is he-a-vy on game days and parking is limited. It’s a good idea to park for free at the Twenty Ninth Street Mall and take public transportation to campus and skip the parking altogether. But if you want to do a true tailgate and park a party, you will need to bear the congestion to score a spot.

Biggest tip: Come early. Lots open six hours before the game starts. Also remember, traffic will be heavy when you leave (or if you’re just trying to drive through Boulder for about an hour after a game).Main lots on campus are reserved for donors or you will have to pay ($25 on the main campus and $10 on the east campus). If you work at CU, you can use your permit. There are

Main lots on campus are reserved for donors or you will have to pay ($25 on the main campus and $10 on the east campus). If you work at CU, you can use your permit. There are certain lots just for permit-holders. You can also find special RV spots in certain lots. These parking passes cost $75, and you can’t stay overnight.

For more info, check the Football Parking Map.

Buses and Shuttles

If you want to avoid parking, take the Buff Buss for students. It starts driving four hours before games. If you’re coming to Boulder from out of town, take the BuffRide (from Denver or Longmont), starting two and a half hours before the game starts. There’s also the Buff Shuttle, which picks people up at Table Mesa starting an hour and a half before kickoff. The Hop and Skip are the regular RTD buses you will need to take to get to campus.

After-Game Food

Before the game is for tailgating but after is for going out to eat on University Hill or the Pearl Street Mall. Restaurants throughout downtown will be packed, but if you can get in, a few favorites include:

  • The Buff, famous for its breakfast dive food.
  • The Sink, beloved for its burgers and beer.
  • Cosmos Pizza for your pizza cravings.
Football Game
Buffalo being formed at Home football game. Photo by Kara Brugman

About Folsom Field

Folsom Field is CU’s football stadium. It opened in 1924, originally called Colorado Stadium. Recently, the field was renovated to add a Champions Center and Indoor Practice Facility, a club room and club seats, Loge Boxes and a rooftop terrace (with great views of the mountains).

During the Game

At the start of every game and kicking off the second half, Ralphie the buffalo mascot will lead the team out onto the field. Watch Ralphie here.

More Info

  • Interactive maps (including info on where to park)
  • Info on Twitter: @CUBuffsGameday, @AllBuffs
  • CU Buff Club:
  • All Buffs forum:

The Perfect Game Day

Here’s how to plan the perfect game day, according to CU alum and fan Shane O’Brien:

If it’s a morning game, stop and get breakfast burritos from Illegal Pete’s. They are delicious. And some Starbucks coffee to go in the brown boxes.

“Go to the game about 45 minutes early. That’s only 15 minutes before everyone else goes and everybody is breaking down by then anyway. Then go to the field house and watch the band march in and perform. Go down the steps by the trailer for Ralphie and watch Ralphie run right at you from close up. It’s an awesome finish to see her hit the trailer and stop with ease. Boom: The trailer door slams shut and it’s game time to find your seat.

“If you planned ahead and got a hotel room or VRBO, you can stay and play [after the game.] Go to The Sink and write your name on the ceiling. Have some pizza. But get there quick; it fills up fast. Go to the Pearl Street Mall and bar hop. Hit the Pearl Street Pub, the “Rundown” Sundown Saloon and License No. 1 under the Hotel Boulderado (if you are staying there, you’re home already). Pasta Jay’s will always have some number of Buffs players, coaches and alumni to eat next to and listen in maybe just a little. It’s a cozy restaurant and by cozy, I mean packed and not big.”



One Response

  1. Heading to Boulder for the game on Saturday. we are coming from Northeastern Pennsylvania for a guys trip. any gameday reccomendations

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