Hot Air Ballooning in the Southwest

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

The most colorful and grand balloon festival in the Southwest is right around the corner. The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is what most people think of when you mention hot air balloons.

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a world-renowned attraction and destination for kids of all ages. For more than three decades, the first week in October brings the smell of roasting chiles and the beautiful, magical moving picture show of hot air balloons sailing silently through the crisp fall air. The fiesta is a riot of color, a photographer’s dream.

It also is a very crowded time in Albuquerque. If you decide to go, you might consider planning your visit a year ahead.  Any time of year

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta as seen from the air.

you can visit the Albuquerque Balloon Museum.

Gallup Red Rock Balloon Rally
This balloon rally is held the first full weekend in December in Gallup, New Mexico. It attracts over 200 hot air balloons from all around the world. What is unique about this balloon festival is that you’ll see balloons fly in and out of red rock canyons. It is a smaller festival and often onlookers will be invited to help crew.

Gallup's Red Rock Balloon Rally

Gallup's Red Rock Balloon Rally is a smaller festival and is in an unbelievably beautiful setting.

Another unique aspect of the Red Rock Balloon Rally is that the night glow at Red Rocks State Park is amazingly beautiful. The glow is followed by Native American dancers around a bonfire.

Attending a Balloon Festival
I’ve been to both balloon festivals and have flown in balloons during both of them. The experiences of seeing these beautiful hot air balloons en masse is something that everyone should experience in their lifetime.

When You Go
Realize that the air is right for balloon lift-off at dawn. So be prepared to get up early

If you think you might want to volunteer to crew, contact the festival organizers in advance. Volunteering to crew does not

Gallup Red Rock Balloon Rally

Don't be surprised if you see balloons touching the red rocks as they climb.

automatically get you a ride in the balloon, however.

Bring your camera!

Website: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Website: Gallup Red Rock Balloon Rally

Photo Credit: Elizabeth R. Rose

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