Hot air balloons have become more popular and many people have gotten to enjoy the experience of gently hovering hundreds of feet above amazing landscapes. Looking at your favorite location in a hot air balloon gives you a brand new perspective with a bird’s eye view. You are better able to see how large and beautiful natural features are and can even gain a new appreciation for cities and towns you thought you were familiar with. Whether you plan on using a hot air balloon to simply get away from it all for a few hours or enjoy a romantic interlude, here are some great rides to go on in the United States.
Home of the International Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque is known as the Ballooning Capital of the World, so naturally is a fabulous place to take a ride in a hot-air balloon. From aloft, one can see the city, the Rio Grande, Sandia Crest, and desert flora and fauna. A sunrise balloon ride in the Rockies will give you an unforgettable memory, while a sunset ride will give a different, yet equally enchanting experience.
In Quechee the hot-air balloon enthusiast can float about the rolling hills of central Vermont, and glide over Lake Pinneo so low one can watch birds catching their breakfasts. Soaring over Quechee Gorge, “Vermont’s Grand Canyon,” affords an amazing view of the Ottauquechee River below and a picturesque bridge that spans the Gorge. The Quechee Covered Bridge is another sight to be watched for as the balloon drifts over the village. Quechee is an unincorporated village in the town of Hartford, and is near the Vermont/New Hampshire border. In the fall, one can expect to see the gorgeous autumn colors that Vermont is so famous for. What better way to enjoy nature’s spectacular display than from above in a hot-air balloon?
Address: 70 Village Green Circle Quechee , VT 05059
Gliding high above the vineyards of northern California’s Napa Valley is a delightful way to spend an hour or so of a warm California day. Several ballooning companies are there vying to give you the ride of your life. With multiple balloon launch sites, you’re sure to find one that pleases you. Sights to look for include California’s Old Faithful Geyser, Mt. St. Helena and the Palisade Cliffs. The hot-air balloon companies offer a variety of amenities from a pre-flight breakfast to a post-flight champagne brunch.
Just a few hours away from Niagara Falls, Letchworth State Park is home to its own gorgeous waterfalls as well as a gorge and area known as the ‘Grand Canyon of the East.’ The best way to get to see the entire state park and all its natural beauty in a just a few hours is in a hot air balloon. This gives you the unique experience of flying just above waterfalls, the peaks of trees, and even snow-covered peaks depending on the weather.
Address: 6773 Halvorsen Road, Portageville, NY 14536
Spanning a distance of 277 miles, there is no good way to see all of the Grand Canyon in a short amount of time without a hot air balloon. From up above in a relaxing balloon ride you can follow the winding path of the canyon that water carved away ages ago and earn a true appreciation for this natural wonder. Many flights will cross the widest area of the canyon so you can see it from both sides and truly see the details of the ever-changing color of the rock formations.
The Rocky Mountains are truly one of the natural wonders in the United States, but it can be exhausting to try to view them from below. Riding in a hot air balloon lets you simply stand back and enjoy the 3,000 mile stretch of mountains interspersed with lakes and streams across several states and into Canada. In some cases, you may even be able to see some wildlife down below or tiny dots which are hikers or boaters enjoy the Rocky Mountain National Park.
The town of Lake Geneva and the lake itself is situated in the southeastern part of Wisconsin. It’s a popular vacation destination for Milwaukee and Chicago residents. The lake covers about eight square miles and is nine miles long and three miles wide. Elegant mansions from yesteryear grace the shoreline. The hot-air balloon passenger can look down on homes that once were owned by such American business scions as Montgomery Ward, Richard Sears, William Wrigley, and Allan Pinkerton. Several of these magnificent homes are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This will truly be an unforgettable balloon ride.
Located about 40 miles south of Portland, Oregon, the town of Newburg’s claim to fame is that former president Herbert Hoover lived there for four years as a boy. The home he lived in is now a museum. A hot-air balloon ride takes passengers over a portion of the Willamette Valley and the Willamette River. You’ll be able to see 10 mountain peaks on a clear day including the beautiful Mt. Hood. You may even see other balloons in the air flying nearby. Your balloonist may dip down to just above the waters of the Willamette River in what is known as a splash ‘n dash.
Address: 1050 Commerce Parkway, Sportsman Airpark, Newberg, OR 97132
Hanging almost two miles in the air above the Rockies, the only sound you will hear is the periodic blast of propane into the balloon. Located about 1½ hours from Denver, Winter Park is an ideal location to indulge in a hot-air balloon experience. You’ll see snow-capped peaks as far away as 100 miles as you follow the Fraser River a ways. Watch for bears from the safety of the balloon gondola. You will be awed by the grandeur of the scenery of beautiful Colorado.
Located in beautiful western North Carolina, Asheville is the home of the Biltmore Estate, the largest private home in America. Hot-air ballooning around Asheville is a treat to the senses. The Great Smoky Mountains offer one gorgeous vista after another as the balloon soars about the treetops among the birds. Marvel at the colorful foliage of the Pisgah National Forest in the autumn, or enjoy pastoral views of rustic barns. In springtime the dogwood, azaleas, rhododendron, and a myriad of other wildflowers will put your senses into overload with their beauty, uniquely seen from above.
Address: 909 Smoky Park Hwy, P o Box 2319, Asheville, NC 28715