Albuquerque is known for it’s rich cultural heritage, amazing sky, and some of the best artists in the world. Also, known for the Breaking Bad series (which you can take a tour in an old RV) However, people spend 10 days here in the first part of October for one thing… the world’s largest festival for Hot Air Balloons. Visitors to Balloon Fiesta park in Albuquerque are treated to a spectacle (on a good day) of over 900 balloons floating peacefully through the desert sky.
I recommend going on a weekend to experience the full splendor of the balloons. You need to get out of bed and get to the park no later than about 5:30 AM for the Dawn Patrol. Look for the green flag flying to signal the captains will be taking off. About eight to ten balloons take off as the sun starts to rise. They are the first few to check the prevailing winds.
Then there is the Mass Ascension. There is only one thing to say….WOW!
There are all shapes and sizes! A carousel, a dog, a clock, Darth Vador and Yoda!
We were fortunate to get an RV boondocking spot in the VIP East Lot right next to the bluff overlooking where the Balloons inflate and take off. Oh yeah, did I mention we were in the front row! Full view of the field! These spots do not come cheap at around $80 per night without hookups, however, rolling out of bed with that view is priceless! There are a few other RV camping lots around the park. See the website http://www.balloonfiesta.com/event-info/event-schedule for more details. Camping spots sell out quickly and open up for reservations for 2016 at the end of October.
Let’s talk about the Albuquerque box for a moment. According the Balloon fiesta website “The famous “Albuquerque Box” in the ballooning community is also a terrain-influenced feature. During the Fall months the predominant wind direction in the lower atmosphere is from the South or Southwest. The southwesterly wind occurs quite often during the afternoon in the Albuquerque area. However in the mornings, especially during the mornings after a fairly cloud-free sky overnight, a significant temperature inversion is present where the coldest air is near the surface. This cold and dense air from the higher terrain north of Balloon Fiesta Park “pours” down the valley through Balloon Fiesta, thus the surface wind in the morning hours is typically from the North while the wind direction above the surface remains from the predominant southerly direction. This wind from the North near the surface and from the South above the surface forms the infamous “Albuquerque Box”. When the sunlight comes over the Sandia mountain range and heats up the lower atmosphere the temperature inversion is lost and the entire atmosphere mixes, thus the southerly wind from above extends to lower altitudes and the Albuquerque Box dissipates.”
What does this mean? Well, we had the Albuquerque Box on Saturday Morning October 3. The balloons go up from the field and go to the south when they rise they go back over the field to the north and descend and come back south. The result the balloons go over the field and come back and go over again!
Balloon fiesta visitors are treated to a fireworks show most weekend nights with the most amazing ground show I have ever seen. Make sure to pick up some collectible pins to trade or take home as great souvenirs. Each session is has a fee (one in the morning until 11am and one in the evening starts at 3:30pm). The cost is $8 at the gate or you can find discount tickets and local retailers or print them from Costco.com.
I have called this great city home a few times in my life. Questions are welcome!
I can’t wait to show you an amazing time lapse video David made of the fiesta! Stay tuned!