In Colorado, Buffalo season is on the horizon. Since they joined the Pac-12 in 2011, the Buffaloes have emerged as one of the conference’s sleeper teams, even making it to the conference championship in 2016. This year will see them taking on some real challenges at Folsom Field in Boulder.
Tailgating at the University of Colorado is another time-honored tradition. Whether the weather’s mild and temperate or — as is often the case — cold as ice, Buffalo fans celebrate each game day in some of the most beautiful surroundings in college football.
Here’s our guide to tailgating service at the University of Colorado and how to make the most of it.
Before Game Day
Buffaloes 2021 Home Schedule
The Buffaloes will face these opponents in Colorado this season. All games are on Saturday, except where noted.
- Sept. 3 (Friday) – Northern Colorado
- Sept. 11 – Texas A&M (at Mile High in Denver)
- Sept. 18 – Minnesota
- Oct. 2 – USC
- Oct. 16 – Arizona
- Nov. 6 – Oregon State
- Nov. 20 – Washington
Rivalry Games: The Pac-12 matchups with USC, Arizona, Oregon State, and Washington will be important if the Buffaloes are in contention for the conference title this year.
If you’re traveling with Colorado to Oregon or UCLA, be sure to check out our Tailgater Guide’s for those properties here:
Get your tickets as far in advance as you possibly can. The Buffaloes’ ticket office will have information on all of your seating options sometime in the summer of 2021.
Travel, Accommodations, and Transportation
The Buffaloes play at Folsom Field in Boulder, less than 30 miles northwest of Denver. Here are directions on getting there and where to stay once you’re in town.
Traveling to Boulder
Driving: US Route 36 is the main highway serving Boulder, coming straight from Denver. If you’re coming from farther away, you may take Interstates 25, 70, or 76 to get to the general area.
Air Travel: Denver International Airport (DEN) is 42 miles away from Folsom Field. It is the second busiest U.S. airport west of Dallas. It serves all major cities. You can arrange for a shuttle service or a car rental to get to Boulder from there.
Regional Transit: RTD Route FF1 is a public transit route that takes passengers from Union Station in Denver straight to Downtown Boulder in less than an hour in normal traffic.
Nearby Hotels and Accommodations
The hotels closest to Folsom Field include Basecamp Boulder, Boulder University Inn, and Millennium Harvest House. You’ll also find nearby accommodations from Marriott, Residence Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Embassy Suites, and Best Western.
If you plan to host your own tailgate, check with the hotel you’re staying at to make sure they have sufficient space for all your equipment. You may want to consider an Airbnb residential rental so you have access to a kitchen. If you can’t bring your equipment along, you can explore equipment rental companies in the Boulder area.
Getting to Folsom Field
RTD is the public transit system that operates in Boulder and Denver. It has several routes that lead to the University. On game day it offers Buffride, a bus that drops passengers from Park-N-Ride locations right at Folsom Field.
Check out CU’s Game Day Transportation page for more options.
How to Tailgate at University of Colorado
Tailgating at the University of Colorado is a long-standing tradition, whether fans do it spontaneously or plan it over several weeks. Here are some of our recommendations on how to make the most of it.
Where to Tailgate at University of Colorado
Game weekend in Boulder essentially takes over the whole city, starting the night before. On-campus, tailgating happens in pretty much all University parking lots, which open six hours before game time (but no earlier than 8 am).
The ones closest to the stadium and practice facility Franklin Field are usually high-traffic destinations with some of the most welcoming parties. Most of these lots are reserved for season-ticket holders and donors to the CU’s athletic programs. RV parking is offered in Lots 414 and 470, southeast of the stadium.
The CU-sponsored tailgate happens at Ralphie’s Corral near the stadium’s south end. It’s free to all and opens three hours before the game. You’ll find family-friendly activities, a ton of local food, and appearances from the CU marching band, spirit squad, and Ralphie, the official mascot. Predictably, Ralphie is a buffalo.
There are a few other popular options for tailgating at the University of Colorado. CU students gather at University Hill and the Pearl Street Mall. A very popular off-campus tailgate happens at the Millennium Harvest House Hotel, about a half-mile from Folsom Field.
Tailgating at University of Colorado: Rules and Tips
Some of the rules for tailgating on University grounds include:
- Propane grills only
- Portable generators must be 60dB or quieter
- No glass bottles or containers
- No amplified sound
Here’s a page that outlines CU tailgating policies.
The weather in Boulder tends to be a little unpredictable in September. From October onward, there’s a real chance you’ll need to bundle yourself up in some very frigid conditions. You won’t be mocked if you keep multiple layers of clothes in your trunk just in case.
Tailgating at University of Colorado: Traditions
Pearl Street Stampede
Friday nights are when the most committed CU fans flank the Pearl Street Mall for the most hallowed Buffalo tradition. The Golden Buffalo Marching Band takes to the streets, along with a few Colorado players and coaches, led by a vintage fire truck. They stop on every block of the mall to greet revelers with high-fives and live music.
On game day, everyone involved in the previous night’s Stampede does it all over again, except this time they march from the Duane Physics Building to Folsom Field. The Round-Up begins two-and-a-half hours before kickoff.
With both the Stampede and the Round-Up, it’s best to get there as early as possible for optimal high-fiving positioning.
Off-Campus Food and Drinks
Boulder is a densely populated city with a small-town feel. It’s got several great options for off-campus grub and refreshments.
Bars Near Folsom Field
In Central Boulder (a little northwest of the stadium), you’ll find Sundown Saloon. It’s where many CU students choose to spend their casual drinking hours: A no-nonsense tavern with pool tables and game-day watching. It’s close to the Attic Bar & Bistro, with a broad selection of local brews and “premium liquors.”
For sports bar action, check out Dark Horse southwest of the University. It’s one of the more iconic bars in Boulder, with some of the best burgers and wings in town. Bluff Street Bar & Billiards and Outback Saloon are two great local joints on 28th Street, north of the campus.
Check out Google Maps’ list of bars and pubs near CU.
Restaurants Near Folsom Field
West of the campus, Ado’s Kitchen & Bar is a casual restaurant with a wide range of American and international dishes at very reasonable prices. Illegal Pete’s is a local chain with two Boulder locations with build-it-yourself Mexican cuisine. Rincon del Sol also offers authentic Mexican food just north of the University.
Other popular spots in and around the college include Doug’s Day Diner, Kalita’s Greek Grill, Rincon Argentino, and The Sink. Boulder also has a higher concentration of vegetarian and vegan options than most other towns, in the off-chance that’s your preference.
Here are TripAdvisor’s recommendations for food near CU.
University of Colorado Tailgate Gear
With the new season fast approaching, it’s time to get some new Colorado game day gear to rep at your tailgate.
For all things attire Fanatics: the University of Colorado is a great place to start. They have something for every member of the family. Be sure to only buy when they have promotions running, which is quite often!
Fanatics also has a fun University of Colorado: Tailgate & Party section that has cute decorations, car decals, and tailgate games. Outside of cornhole (bags) games, I’d stick to Amazon for your bigger tailgate items like tents, tables, chairs, etc. Or your actual team’s ticket office.
If you’re thinking of upgrading some of your basic equipment, be sure to check out the following blogs:
Tailgating at the University of Colorado brings the entire town of Boulder together on game days. You’ll have many official and unofficial celebrations to choose from where the Buffaloes roam.
Are you heading out to a game this fall? Let us know in the comments below!
Please note: Tailgater Concierge is a participant in the Amazon and Fanatics Affiliate Programs and may receive commissions on purchases. Tailgater Concierge only recommends products that we find valuable for our tailgating community! Thanks!