If you are a fan of sports history then a visit to Wisconsin would be complete without catching a University of Wisconsin Badgers game in Madison. The Badgers play their home games at 1440 Monroe Street in one of the most iconic stadiums in the sport, Camp Randall Stadium, and they are cheered on every week by Buckingham U. Badger, a guy better known to his friends as Bucky.
Camp Randall is an old, old stadium that is steeped in history but that has managed to be updated constantly to still feel like a great place to watch a football game. Opening in 1917, Camp Randall is the fourth oldest stadium in college football and the Badgers have been plying their trade in the historic Big Ten conference since it formed in 1896.
Clad in their cardinal and white uniforms with the stylized W on their helmet, the Badgers always look like a football team primed to win games. This is especially true for games late in the season, where the brutal Wisconsin winter pulls in and this outdoor stadium comes to life with the sound of alumni, students, and fans cheering and screaming for their team as the snow falls.
Camp Randall is also home to one of the newer traditions in college football. Between the third and fourth quarters, the stadium sound system pumps out the song Jump Around by House of Pain. This riles up the whole stadium to the point that the stands actually move with the weight of people jumping around to the music. This became an official thing in 1998 and immediately became a bucket list item for college football fans across the country.
Tickets for Wisconsin sporting events are sold through the University of Wisconsin-Madison ticket office. It is advised to buy your tickets in advance, especially for football games. Even though the stadium seats over 80,000, games usually sell out. Tickets for early-season games against some of the lesser-known schools have been found for around $30 in recent seasons, with key Big Ten games costing over $100 as an average ticket price.
Camp Randall Stadium is located just south of Lake Mendota in Madison, and it can be a rough haul to get to the stadium on game day. Madison is a college town (the population is 255,000 before students are accounted for), and the road systems are not ideal when trying to get 80,000 to the stadium. I-90 is the road that most will take towards Madison, but be aware that there are significant road closures in the city on game day to try to help the flow of traffic in and out.
Single event parking at Wisconsin Badgers' games is available in certain lots and is on a first-come-first-served basis on the day of the event. Payment is to the parking attendant in the lot, and there is usually plenty of public parking around the stadium if needed.
RVers will be directed to Lot 60 for parking and permits for this lot are available in advance from the ticket office. Prices have been around $50 for a game, but overnight parking is not allowed. If the lot isn't full, then a permit can be bought on game day from the lot attendant (cash only).
Camp Randall Stadium is accessible via several public bus routes in Madison. There are also a number of shuttle bus services that run to Camp Randall from different areas around campus and from the UW Hospital. These buses have cost around $6 round trip in recent seasons. For those wanting a direct route with no worries about where to be picked up and dropped off, rideshare services and taxis are still the best options.
Overnight parking is not allowed in the Camp Randall parking lots throughout the campus. Private vendors often encourage or house RV meetups for Wisconsin Badgers games. There are also plenty of nearby camping options if you want to leave your RV at the campsite and take your towed vehicle to the stadium.
Staying nearby is always a good option, and there are plenty of resort-style RV facilities in and around Madison that will provide fun for the whole family. Madison KOA is a great option for its proximity to the stadium and facilities offered within a 30-minute drive. The well-known Wisconsin Dells KOA is also just an hour from the Badgers campus.
Walking is usually the best way around the area outside Camp Randall Stadium and the facility itself. Follow the crowds headed toward Camp Randall on game day as you take in the sights, smells, and sounds of Wisconsin football. This is also the best way to get to Badgerville, a school approved tailgate event that starts 2.5 hours before kickoff. Badgerville features food, live music, and even Bucky Badger himself.
The red and white of Wisconsin is both eye-catching and iconic in this area. Be sure to bring items with Badger colors, be that a t-shirt in the early season, a hoodie as the temperature starts to drop, or a beanie and winter coat if you plan to attend a game at Camp Randall in November.
Even if the weather is good, it is never a bad idea to have layers available and comfortable shoes are a must. Maybe leave the maroon and gold of the Minnesota Golden Gophers or the black and gold of the Iowa Hawkeyes at home. Badgers fans may want to avoid gold altogether for this trip!
A clear bag is needed if you want to take permitted items into the game. It is also important to have the right gear in your camper both for game day and the rest of the trip. Tailgating may include grilling at the campsite, so bring lawn chairs and other tailgating items with the Wisconsin W. Wisconsin blankets would also be a great idea if you are going to be camping when the weather turns a little chilly in the evening.
While the weather may not be as hot as in other parts of the country, it is always important to lather up with sunscreen if you are spending a lot of time outdoors. It is also important to hydrate as much as possible, especially if drinking alcohol. Also, be sure the RV is stocked with any needed medical supplies and that it has a first-aid kit to take care of any minor injuries while you are away from home.
The Downtown Madison location means that tailgating at a Wisconsin game can be hit or miss. One well-known tailgating spot is over in the Meriter Hospital parking lot and this might be a good spot to aim for to fire up the grill. Ideally, a beer and cheese dip can be prepared in advance just so that the locals know that you are taking your Wisconsin food as seriously as they are. There are plenty of supermarkets in the area for supplies, and you can bet each one will have brats aplenty in the fall as they prepare for tailgating season. Don't forget the condiments!
Madison has been described as "a dining obsessed town" which obviously makes it ideal for anyone who would like a meal at a restaurant or two. You may wish to step out of the RV kitchen to try a few local dishes. The Madison portion of your journey would be ideal for this given both the quality and the sheer number of restaurants in the town. There are plenty of specialty restaurants in town but be sure not to leave without trying one of the local burger joints as they come highly recommended.
Camp Randall is an ideal place to get food if you somehow didn't have enough to fill you up at the restaurants in town or at the six-hour-long tailgating session. Food choices inside the stadium range from classics like burgers, pizza, and hot dogs, to the more local (gotta try those cheese curds at least once during your stay). The stadium food is usually portable, hand-held and a yummy, guilty pleasure.
Camp Randall Stadium and Wisconsin football have adopted a clear bag policy meaning that only clear bags (or a small clutch style purse) will be allowed in the stadium. According to recent guidelines, bags must be 12" x 6" x 12" or smaller and must only contain items that are approved to bring into the stadium. Diaper bags and medical items may be allowed into the stadium following a thorough security inspection. Expect there to be lines at the gates as fans pass through a security screening on the way to your seat for the game.
The weather at the start of the season when August turns to September may be ideal for watching football as it is usually not uncomfortably hot. This weather pattern changes quickly, however, with home games in the late fall becoming cold and with snowstorms possible near the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Always have a weather app on your phone to check the forecast before you go.
There are three UW Health First Aid Stations in the stadium. These are located in the fifth level concourse behind section T, the upper deck at Section FF, and under section YZ on the south end zone concourse. This means that wherever you are sitting among the 80,000 fans you will always be close to help should you need it. There are also security guards, paramedics, and police officers on duty in the stadium who are able to immediately help in case of an emergency.