Hot Air Balloon Capital of the World

The last trip I took before the world essentially shut down due to the Corona Virus was to the Hot Air Balloon Capital of the world – Albuquerque, New Mexico.

They have an annual event which I hope will still be on this year.  I have made it a point to attend at some point in the future.

Anyway, one of the reasons we went to Albuquerque was to take our first ride in a hot air balloon.  I choose Rainbow Ryders because of the positive reviews online – they are well deserved!

I booked a private sunrise ride in advance.  You pay 50% upfront and 50% upon completion of the ride.

In order to time the ride with the sunrise, you need to arrive at the facility early – 5:45 AM.

There, you will sign a waiver and meet your crew – a pilot and chaser.  The chaser essentially follows the balloon in a car so that you will have a ride upon landing.  The pilot has limited control of the direction of the balloon.

The first thing the crew did was unpack everything:


It was such a cool experience to see.  Being obsessed with travel and flight, I had so many questions about the balloon which the pilot gladly answered.

While the balloon was being inflated, we were able to step inside and take photos.  The size of the balloon was unreal.  Once the balloons were inflated, the sun started to rise, which was perfect timing for take off.


Here are some views from the air.




Upon landing, we had some snacks and a “traditional Champagne” celebration.


One question I get a lot is “was it scary”.  It was not scary at anytime.  My wife is scared of heights, to the point where she doesn’t even want to stand on a balcony, and she had no issues.  The crew is very professional and pleasant.  I would recommend this as a bucket list activity for everyone.  Hopefully the world will return to normal soon, stay safe everyone!

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