Not many college football teams can boast about their stadium being the primary venue for the Winter Olympics, except for the University of Utah, home to the Utah Utes. The team’s space, Rice-Eccles Stadium, was built in 1998 after Salt Lake City’s bid to host the 2002 Winter Olympics was approved.
The old building was quickly demolished, and a new state-of-the-art stadium was built; the old structure was built in 1927 and renovated in 1972. The 45,000-seat venue now serves as the Utes’ football stadium, where they meet opponents on game day. Though the school’s sobriquet is the “Utes,” their mascot is actually a costumed red-tailed hawk named Swoop. The University of Utah Utes derived their name from the Ute Tribe, who live in the northeastern part of the state.
When it comes to football, the Utes have been something of a powerhouse in the midwest. Before they joined the well-respected Pac-12 Conference, the Utes were a dominating force in the Mountain West Conference.
Since 2010, the Utes enjoyed eight bowl games, of which they won five in consecutive years. In the Pac-12, the Utes continue to march forward season after season. On game days, you’ll see student section, The MUSS (Mighty Utah Student Section), hyping up the team with Ute spirit. The MUSS also shows up at other Utes sporting events, including basketball, lacrosse, and soccer.
Salt Lake City campgrounds give RV travelers a landing place for hiking and exploring at places like Scott M. Matheson Nature Preserve and Governors Groves and Grandeur Peak.
When you consider that Rice-Eccles Stadium is a former Olympic venue and the fact that the Utes are a prominent football team in the state, tickets are often reasonably priced. Based on ticket prices from past seasons, you can expect to pay around $60 on average, though that can vary based on the opponent.
When the University of Utah Utes play against their rivals (Brigham Young University, the University of Colorado-Boulder, and Utah State University), prices may be higher. (Interesting fact: when the Utes and BYU play against each other, the game is known as the “Holy War,” denoting the unique culture of the region and friendly rivalry between the teams.)
The University of Utah is in the northeast section of Salt Lake City, a beautiful place to visit year-round. Utah, in general, is a great destination for nature lovers, with its national parks, ski resorts, and cool weather. Park City is nearby, which is perfect if you want to hit the slopes. Also, the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest is within 15 miles of Ute Stadium in case you feel like going on a hike.
University of Utah RV parking has been known to be relatively affordable, but may only be for daytime. The northern part of the campus is home to several parking lots that accept RVs for about $40; however, these lots are not for tailgating. South of the stadium, you’ll find the Guardsmen Lot, which takes RVs and allows tailgating. Season passes for the Guardsman Lot sell out fast, but you can buy a day-of-game pass, if available, for $100.
Salt Lake City is a big enough municipality to have a modern transportation system that includes not only bus routes but also light rail routes. On game day, you can use your game ticket to ride on any Utah Transportation Authority bus or light rail route for free. Tickets for other Utah Utes sporting events, not just football, are also valid. The TRAX light rail can take you right up to the stadium, so you may not even have to bring your RV to the game.
Though your RV may be suited to stay at an amenity-lacking parking lot for several days, it may not always be an option to remain overnight. The University of Utah does not allow overnight stays, but there are campgrounds nearby where Utes fans can enjoy a more relaxing stay in Salt Lake City.
RVers may encounter more than a handful of Salt Lake City RV campgrounds, so you shouldn’t have much trouble when looking for a place to stay for the night. Several of the campgrounds offer gorgeous scenic views of the nearby mountains. The Salt Lake City KOA, in particular, is a great place to stay since it has many basic and unique amenities, alike. Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest is less than 20 miles from Ute Stadium and allows space for even the largest of camping setups, including a Class A with a towed vehicle.
If you’re planning on walking around the stadium grounds with children, you may want to bring a stroller. Strollers are welcome inside the stadium so long as they are not blocking the aisle. If you don’t want to bring the stroller to your seat, you can check it at a guest services center.
As always, pack according to the time of year. As the season begins in the late summer, you’ll want to pack airy clothing that is comfortable to wear in warm to hot temperatures. Salt Lake City can get gold, and it does occasionally drop to freezing, so pack a few extra layers in the winter. Red and white Utes clothing items that are warm would also be good suitcase additions.
If you nab a tailgating spot, plan to make the most of it. Bring a decent-sized grill that way you can cook for multiple guests. Bring an ice chest to keep those drinks as cool as the snow on the Wasatch Mountains. Also, bring a foldable table and some comfortable chairs for your guests. Your version of Swoop, the Utes mascot, would be a fun item for your tailgate games as well.
While Salt Lake City’s high altitude lands lower than Denver to the east, it’s still something that you should consider if you’re not acclimated with high-altitude. Drink plenty of water, try not to drink or exercise too much when you first arrive and have some over-the-counter medicine for any headaches caused by altitude sickness.
Before you throw a few patties onto the grill, and pop open your tailgate beverages, make a trip to a local grocery store. As you wander the aisles and begin to form a tailgating menu, remember that this is your tailgate, so you can create a simple menu, or you can show off your University of Utah spirit.
What is your favorite red and white food to include? Strawberries and whip cream? Cookies shaped like Swoop in his Utes gear? Let the kids help you create your newest team favorites for game day fun.
You’ll find a diverse set of trendy restaurants in the Salt Lake City area, including Mediterranean, Indian, Japanese, Italian, and Mexican restaurants. Sushi, specialty burgers, and creative deserts may be on your menu at the local establishments near the University of Utah. If you like to dive into new culinary experiences, you’ll have no trouble finding a restaurant.
At the Guardsman Lot, you’ll find various vendors with the latest Utah Utes merchandise. Stock up on apparel items, such as hats and other Utes-branded gear, and get a snack or beverage, too. Inside the stadium, you’ll find delicious food options such as pizza, burgers, corndogs, and other popular stadium food.
Rice-Eccles Stadium’s clear bag policy prohibits any non-clear bag larger than a clutch purse from entering the stadium. If you lose an item, speak with someone at the nearest guest services center. Lost items are kept for 30 days, so call the stadium soon if you realize you lost something after the game.
Salt Lake City, with it’s proximity to great outdoor spaces, experiences all four seasons. Summer temperatures can reach the low 90s, and fall temperatures transition from warm (low-80s) to cool (mid-40s). The winters are a bit cold, but often not so much that you can’t enjoy a nice day outdoors.
Fans will have access to first-aid stations in three different sections of the stadium. Ask for directions to the nearest first-aid station if you need medical assistance. The first aid stations are staffed with medical professionals. Nursing mothers are encouraged to use individualized restrooms or a guest service room as desired.