Having attended every home game save for two (family duties) since 2002, I can say I've almost seen everything when it comes to parking for football at Stanford. Everything from skateboarders acting as valets at Paly to 80+ year old alums walking from Tressider to the stadium just so they don't have to deal with the pre- and post-game traffic and crowds.
With the advent of paid parking last season, traffic has become a nightmare- a NIGHTMARE - at Stanford. The privilege of parking near Stanford Stadium has made Galvez Road, University Avenue, Embarcadero, Oregon Expressway, and especially El Camino Real virtual parking lots for at least 90 minutes before kickoff. It was especially atrocious for the USC game (it took me 45 minutes to travel a quarter mile on El Camino, and even then I gave up and went to the backside of campus). So to prevent a case of road rage on your part or the part of others, I've assembled a quick list of easy, stress-free entryways onto Stanford. Follow these guides and you'll have a rather enjoyable (and scenic!) ride onto campus.
If you come from I-280, either Northbound or Southbound, you have three convenient exits that you can use: Page Mill, Sand Hill, and Alpine Road.
- The route with the least likelihood of resulting in you getting lost is the Page Mill Road exit. Exit to the East and continue until you reach Foothill Expressway. Turn left at Foothill (which changes to Junipero Serra) and continue until you get to Stanford Avenue. Turn right at Stanford Avenue and continue to Bowdoin Street. Turn left at Bowdoin and continue to Campus Drive, at which point you're already a 1/4 mile on campus.
- The route with the least amount of traffic is Alpine Road. Exit to the East and continue until you reach Junipero Serra (careful - it's very wooded here and easy to get lost and end up on Sand Hill Road or Santa Cruz Avenue). Turn right onto Junipero Serra and continue until it turns into Campus Drive. You'll know you're at the right spot if you reach a traffic light and to your right is the entrance to the Stanford Golf Course.
- The final route is Sand Hill Road. Exit Sand Hill to the East and continue past several traffic lights until you reach Santa Cruz Ave. Along the way, you'll pass the Linear Accelerator and the entrance to the Secret Safeway at Sharon Park, convenient for last minute tailgating and picnic supplies. Turn right onto Santa Cruz Ave. and immediately move over to the left lane. At the next traffic light, turn left onto Junipero Serra. Continue on until you reach Campus Drive, right after the golf course entrance.
If there's one rule of thumb when it comes to entering the frontside of campus, it's this: Avoid El Camino Real.
- If you're coming from Menlo Park, Atherton, and Redwood City on El Camino, continue southward until you reach the Stanford Shopping Center. At Quarry Road, turn right and continue onward until you reach Campus Drive.
- If you're coming from South Palo Alto, Mountain View, and Los Altos on El Camino, continue northward until you reach Page Mill Road. At Page Mill, turn left (and pass numerous biotech and high tech firms) and continue until Peter Coutts Road. Turn right onto Peter Coutts and continue on until you reach Stanford Ave. Turn right at Stanford Ave. and continue until Bowdoin Street. Turn left at Bowdoin and continue on until you reach Campus Drive.
If you must use Highway 101, only exit at San Antonio Road or Willow Road. You can exit at University Ave., Embarcadero, and Oregon Expressway if you want, but you gamble with your time if you do so, especially if it's within 90 minutes of kickoff.
- From 101 Northbound, exit San Antonio Road West and continue until you reach El Camino Real. Turn right at El Camino Real and follow the directions above for visitors from South Palo Alto, Mountain View, and Los Altos.
- From 101 Southbound, exit Willow Road West and continue until Middlefield Road. Turn right at Middlefield and continue until Ravenswood Ave. Turn left at Ravenswood (you'll be in front of the Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center at Menlo-Atherton High School) and continue on until you reach El Camino Real. Turn left at El Camino Real and follow the directions for coming from Menlo Park, Atherton and Redwood City.
DO NOT TAKE THESE ROUTES 90 minutes before kickoff:
Do NOT use University Ave. You'll be stuck in downtown Palo Alto for who knows how long, admiring all the people on the sidewalks and overpriced restaurants and stores.
Do NOT use Embarcadero Road. You'll most definitely be stuck all the way from 101 to campus, a glorious 2-mile parking lot of you admiring overpriced houses and odd art sculptures.
Do NOT use Oregon Expressway. Just as bad as Embarcadero in terms of traffic, but instead of houses, all you get are painted cinder blocks and the occasional ivy covered wall.
But above all, do NOT use El Camino Real between Page Mill and University Avenue. The mother of all parking lots before gametime. You may as well just get out of your car and walk to Stanford Stadium if you take this route (not really, but you get the idea). The only redeeming part of ever traveling on El Camino here is to use the Paly parking lots and their enterprising students (see the valet skateboarders and the various clubs directing traffic at Paly for a nominal fee), but even then the lots fill up pretty fast.
But you know what the easiest way to get on campus is on game days? Here's a hint. It costs $13.50 from SF, but even less if you park at Millbrae (from the North Bay) or Diridon (from the South Bay). And they've even been so kind as to drop you off within a quarter mile of the gates at Stanford Stadium as well.