In West Virginia, land of country roads and coal mines, there are no professional sports teams, which is why the West Virginia University Mountaineers football team is a popular sports team for residents in the Mountain State. The team plays its home games at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium, often referred to simply as Mountaineer Field, which opened in 1980.
The stadium seats 60,000 fans but it once seated 70,000 in a game against the Miami Hurricanes in 1993. The school’s mascot is a buckskin-wearing Mountaineer that also wears a coonskin cap and carries a rifle. Every year a student is chosen to wear the mantle of the Mountaineer, which is a great honor that comes with the perk of a scholarship for the lucky student.
With previous success in a few other conferences, the West Virginia Mountaineers are one of the newest members of the highly-competitive Big 12 Conference. The Mountaineers joined the conference in 2012 alongside the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs. Though they haven’t yet won the Big 12 Conference, they have won 15 conference titles before when they were part of the Southern Conference and the Big East Conference. Since 2010, the Mountaineers have made eight bowl game appearances and managed to come home with two well-deserved wins.
After each home win, fans and players sing along to John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” Fans took to the song not only because it refers to the state, but because Denver sang it when the new stadium opened in 1980. However, Denver had never been to West Virginia and the song was not written by him. Either way, Mountaineer fans are proud of their sports teams, which also include men and women’s basketball, soccer, swimming, and even a rifle team.
For most college football games, you can expect to pay under $100 for a ticket, with big-name schools charging closer to $100. At West Virginia University, tickets have usually averaged between $70 and $90. Typically, games against high-ranked conference rivals are more expensive. Though the football team has the biggest fan base, wrestling, baseball, basketball, track, rowing, and others welcome fans to join the blue and old gold festivities.
Morgantown, West Virginia, where the school is located, is close to the borders of Pennsylvania and Maryland; universities in these two border states have rivalries with the mountaineers. Pittsburgh is a little over an hour away to the north, with Washington, D.C. about three and a half hours to the east. If you treasure the gorgeous vistas of West Virginia, you can visit Shenandoah National Park which is about three hours southeast.
West Virginia University welcomes RVs, and there are several lots to park in, though most of them require permits. The Black Lot, however, is one of the few lots that do not require a permit, and you can purchase your parking pass on gameday for about $80. Mountaineer fans can begin parking at the Black Lot, also known as the Coliseum Lot, on Friday morning and you can stay until Sunday morning.
There are several transportation options available on gameday. The Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) System, which uses driverless pods, connects the sprawling West Virginia Campus and operates on football gamedays. There is also the Coliseum / Evensdale Campus shuttle that begins its route a couple of hours before most games. If traveling from another part of the city to the campus, you can hop on a Mountain Line Transit Authority bus which offers many different routes.
If you park at the Black Lot, you can stay there from Friday to Sunday morning, so it’s best to fill up your gas and water tanks and empty out your sewage in advance. As always, stock up supplies to make your stay as comfortable as possible, and remember to keep your parking spot clean.
There are a variety of campgrounds in the area, with most of them being near the university campus. However, if you feel like camping closer to nature, reserve a parking spot at Coopers Rock State Forest. This protected forest is verdant, peaceful, and full of outdoor activites. As far as accommodations are concerned, expect electric hookups on all 25 sites, showers, Wi-Fi. The campsites usually close in mid-November.
The best way to get around campus is to ride on the PRT, and you should get on a city bus if you’re coming from the city. You’ll definitely want to find some form of transportation to the stadium if you park at the Black Lot, which is about one and a half miles away. Thankfully, apart from the shuttles and buses, you can also ride on one of the courtesy golf cart shuttles that the school provides. These golf cart shuttles are reserved for the elderly and guests with disabilities, but you can ask for a ride if you’re tired.
With warm to mild temperatures at the start of the football season, it’s best to pack light clothing to stay cool and refreshed throughout the day. Better yet, pack clothing in WVU colors, blue and old gold, or with the school’s logo. When fans dress in those colors, the stadium looks like a unified force and it’s definitely a welcome sight.
Don’t stress out too much about what you need to pack for your tailgate. If you want to cook for your guests, a grill is perfect for cooking for large groups of people. You can also bring a small canopy tent to provide shade for yourself and your guests. To make the cooking process smoother, bring a table to prepare and display your dishes. For comfort, bring a few lawn chairs. And, most importantly, pack an ice chest to keep your drinks cold.
With a grill, it’s important to be safe, so keep an eye on it at all times, and make sure that children stay away from the flames. As you make your way onto local trails, remember to keep a paper map on hand in case cell signals do not work well enough to update trail apps. Monitor for ticks, mosquitos, and other tiny guests on your clothing and limbs. Challenge yourself and your trip-mates to see who can spot the most types of plants as you stick to the main trailways.
Before you park your RV, make a run to the local supermarket and pick up grocery items, propane or charcoal, depending on your grill, and any other tailgating essentials you may need. When cooking for a large group of people outdoors, dips, chili, and finger foods are the perfect dishes to serve. Mix in some fun cookies in the shape of mountains and top them with old gold and blue icing for some West Virginia Mountainer flair.
Because of the young college-aged population in Morgantown, there are trendy restaurants and bars, as well as affordable ones. As you decide on your dinner, you’ll see a variety of different cuisines such as Chinese, Italian, and Mexican restaurants. Pies & Pints, a popular restaurant in the area, serves pizzas, sandwiches, and burgers, but they also offer tasty vegetarian and vegan options.
When you’re inside the stadium, you can head to the team shop which carries the latest Mountaineer apparel, gear, and memorabilia. If you’re not yet decked out in the school’s colors, this is your chance to look the part. There is more than one shop inside the stadium, and there are more outside the stadium.
Before you head inside the stadium to watch the game, make sure you have everything you need because re-entry is not allowed once you’ve left. Also, guests can bring a stroller inside the stadium, so long as you check it with guest services during the events. Finally, it’s best to wear a poncho if it rains since umbrellas are not allowed inside the stadium.
Summer weather in Morgantown is hot, humid, and rainy. Fall temperatures are much cooler, the average high is about 70 degrees, but it starts to get cold around November. When the regular season wraps up in December, the average low temperature is often between 28 to 34 degrees. Prepare for snow if you plan to travel in the area as the season comes to a close.
If you have an accident or don’t feel well, head to one of the first-aid stations which are located throughout the stadium. Do not hesitate to ask for help or for directions. For more serious medical treatment, head to the nearest hospital which is six minutes away. Pharmacy options are also as close as two miles from Mountaineer Field.