The North Dakota State Bison are one of the top football teams in the Football Championship Subdivision. Playing at the FargoDome in Fargo, North Dakota, this is a football outpost that seats 18,700 for football games and over 25,000 for concerts. The team is cheered on wildly from the sideline by Thundar the Bison.
Sitting at 1800 University Drive North, the FargoDome seats almost one-fifth of the city of Fargo when it is at capacity. It is a loud stadium for its size, a concept no doubt helped by the fact the Bison have won well over 80% of the games they have played in the facility since it opened back in 1993.
The best thing about the FargoDome, be it for football, a concert, or another event, is that this is an indoor stadium. This is hugely important in the late fall and winter when the temperatures in North Dakota are brutal on the body. It also means that your time at the game, minus tailgating in the snow, will be in a controlled environment and at a good temperature!
Camping at a sporting event and attending a tailgate with thousands of other fans is a simple joy that RVers get to experience in a better way than anyone else. Combining a North Dakota State game with trips to some of the important historical sites in the state, such as the Fort Union Trading Post in Williston or Fort Mandan in Washburn, is an ideal vacation that is well off of the beaten track. An RV trip through North Dakota in the fall can easily involve a swing through campus to catch a football game.
The best way to buy tickets for North Dakota State sporting events is through the university ticket office either in person or online. Tickets can be in high demand, especially for playoff football games, so make sure that you grab your seats well before any planned trip to avoid disappointment on the day of the game. Prices have averaged out around $50, but tickets to some games have been as little as $25 over the past few seasons.
The FargoDome is an easy venue to get to as Fargo is a smaller town not beset by the traffic problems of some major colleges. The facility is just five minutes north of downtown and it is easily accessible from major highways as it is just minutes from the I-94 and I-29 intersections. It is also just half a mile from Hector International Airport if you are meeting friends or families in the region. Keep an eye out for road construction projects that will slow down your drive to the stadium.
If tailgating is your goal, then knowing which lots to be in matters. The lots directly to the east, north, and south of the Dome (lots A, B, C, D) prohibit alcohol and tailgating is banned. This includes lots (B and C) that are $5 parking lots. Alcohol is only allowed in lots E, F, and G, which are to the west of the stadium. These are reserved tailgating lots that open up five and a half hours before game time. The cost for these lots has been around $20 in recent years. RVers may need to buy multiple spots depending on the size of their rig.
Moving the RV from your campsite might be something of a hassle since fans cannot park overnight. There are no shuttle bus services from around the city during football games, but there are sometimes for other events such as concerts. As a football fan wanting to leave the RV in place, your best bet is either to take a taxi or to plan a route on the local MATBus service that takes fans from downtown to the stadium in around 15 minutes.
There aren't any overnight parking options at the FargoDome or on the North Dakota State campus. Reserved tailgating lots open up five and a half hours before the game, while all other lots, including non-reserved tailgating lots, open five hours prior to kickoff. The lots then close either one hour after the conclusion of the game or at 11:00 pm on game night, whichever occurs first.
The lack of opportunity to stay on campus means that you get to roll the RV out into the North Dakota or Minnesota countryside. There are RV campgrounds and state parks throughout the state, so fans can choose based on convenience to the FargoDome, outdoor activities, amenities, and surroundings.
Linkwood Campground is open much of the year, offering an outdoor setting for every outdoor lover within ten miles of Bison Stadium. Buffalo River State Park is just over the border in Minnesota and within 20 miles of Bison Stadium. It also has over 40 drive-in sites with RV hookups and year-round campgrounds.
The lack of shuttles can make getting around a little tricky if you are further away from the FargoDome. Thankfully the sheer amount of onsite parking means that taking an RV or a car to the lots surrounding the facility shouldn't be a problem. Other options include buses from downtown and taxis or rideshare companies. When in and around the FargoDome, your best bet is to walk, enjoying the sights and smells of fellow tailgaters cooking up a storm.
Football can be as much as a six-month-long affair in the FCS, so it is certainly worth checking a weather app before venturing around North Dakota. This is even more important if you are going to a basketball game or other event during the winter months. Pack the RV full of any clothing you might need, with t-shirts and layers for the evening in the summer and plenty of winter clothing as the fall and winter months settle into the region.
Loading up on the green and yellow gear of the Bison is going to make your RV trip and your game day experience more enjoyable. Buying fan gear online is one option, but it is always fun to visit a university store on campus and get your gear while also getting a feel for the place.
Make sure that the campsite is well represented with gear too, be it lawn chairs, bag toss, or cups that feature the Bison mascot or logo. Avoiding the blue and yellow of rival South Dakota State is also an important move here!
The elements in North Dakota are strong and can quickly take a toll on your skin. A trip to a game, combined with exploring the region, can mean you are outside much of the time, though thankfully not during the game. Remember to hydrate well and wear sunscreen and bug spray if they are needed at the time of your visit. If you are braving a winter tailgate, then wrap up warm and keep your hat and gloves on even if any alcohol raises your body temperature.
Tailgating in the right lots is not only encouraged but openly expected. While open fires are banned, grillers can roll out their charcoal or propane grill to make their favorite pregame snack or meal. Supplies are usually available close to campus, with supercenters and convenience stores nearby. Grilling up the best burgers and hot dogs is a favorite, or be creative and throw in some German or Scandinavian food, especially in the winter.
Bison fans will be plenty to eat while tailgating and inside the stadium, but for those looking for a restaurant meal during their RV road trip, Fargo doesn't disappoint. This is a more eclectic city than might be imagined, with the expected burger and pizza places standing side by side with Mediterranean and Vietnamese cuisine. Downtown Fargo is just a short bus ride from campus, making a pregame lunch ideal for an evening game.
Bison fans can choose from a variety of concession stands throughout the FargoDome that serve all the expected food you crave at a football game. Popcorn, burgers, and pizza are all on the menu, but guests are not allowed to bring outside food into the area. There are also ATMs throughout the building if you need cash, though all vendors accept credit cards, too.
Fargodome entrances are all fitted with walkthrough metal detectors for security purposes, and there is no re-entry to the stadium after you leave for any reason. Guests cannot take bags larger than 13" x 13" into the stadium, and there is a big list of prohibited items, including drones and laser pointers. You are allowed to take an empty water bottle into the Dome to fill from the available water fountains.
Weather can turn quickly in the Northern states so be aware that what starts out as a nice day can quickly turn into a blizzard. Fans will appreciate the benefit of a domed stadium, but knowing what the weather is going to throw at you on the drive and walk too and from the facility is imperative. Pack the RV with all the items you would need to get out of snowbound conditions if you are going for a late-season game, and stock it with food and provisions just in case you are snowed in.
There are first aid stations located throughout the stadium and in various spots around campus. Make sure you know where your nearest emergency medical facility is both on the way to the game and when you are at the Fargodome. Stadium ushers have all been trained in basic care.