Bucketlist-worthy Guide to Albuquerque's Balloon Fiesta

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Advisor - Katie Anderson
Curated By

Katie Anderson

  • New Mexico

  • Active Travel

  • Adventure Travel

  • Outdoors

  • Entertainment

  • Sightseeing

Hot air baloon activity
Curator’s statement

You may have never heard of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, but I promise this is absolutely a bucketlist-worthy addition. Hands down, one of the top five coolest experiences of my life, was taking off in a hot air balloon during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta mass ascension, the largest ballooning event on earth. As someone who is absolutely terrified of heights, I can tell you that this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience that you just need to do and will be so thrilled you did it! The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta occurs annually at Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico, during the first two weeks in October. If you want to ride in a hot air balloon, you should absolutely plan for this!

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Where to stay in New Mexico

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Things to do in New Mexico

Hot air baloon

Book a balloon fiesta morning mass ascension balloon ride or a private balloon fiesta mass ascension balloon ride with Rainbow Ryders. They are the ONLY company that is authorized to provide hot air balloon rides at the Balloon Fiesta Park, the world's largest balloon event. On the day of your scheduled hot air balloon ride, you will be arriving at the park very early (between 4:00-4:30am). Children must be at least five years of age to ride and riding is off-limits if you are pregnant. If you book the first option of a balloon fiesta morning mass ascension balloon ride, you will be in a basket with as many as 10 passengers and a pilot. The flight time for both options is about 45 minutes to 1-hour. You will be arriving at the park extremely early, so dress in layers, wear comfortable shoes, as it can be quite chilly in the morning.

If you are traveling with children, you absolutely must take them back to Balloon Fiesta Park for the Special Shape Rodeo in the morning or the Special Shape Glodeo in the evening. You should refer to the event calendar on the Balloon Fiesta website for specific dates and times, but the special event features super cool hot air balloons as various characters, followed by an evening fireworks show.

If you travel to New Mexico outside the Balloon Fiesta dates, this is still an absolutely fabulous place to take a Hot Air Balloon Ride, Eco Tour.

Another recommended activity is to take a small group Chaco Canyon hiking tour, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Park.

Take a Ghost Tour of Old Town Albuquerque.

Day Trips

Chaco Canyon hiking tour, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Park.

Need to Know

A trip to Albuquerque could easily be combined with a trip to Santa Fe, Taos or White Sands National Park. Living relatively close to New Mexico, I have taken numerous trips to the state over the past 12 years and can provide expert recommendations on all of the above. Another item to note regarding the Balloon Fiesta Park is that smoking, pets and drones are not permitted. The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta brings 800,000+ guests annually so you absolutely want to arrive very early to secure a spot to park on mass ascension dates.

Looking for more travel inspo? Check out my guide, The Ultimate 7-Day Utah Adventure for an Unforgettable Road Trip.

Advisor - Katie Anderson

Travel Advisor

Katie Anderson

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to New Mexico.