When it comes to the Great Plains there are plenty of places to choose from as this region of the U.S. covers many different states and runs through the centre of the country. Balloon rides are a great way to get a bird’s eye view while travelling at a very sedate pace and this is an experience which is not to be missed. The only issue with balloon rides is that they are very reliant on weather conditions so even if you book a ride in advance, you may not actually be lucky on the day. However, the Great Plains has some of the best conditions for balloon rides so your chances here may be better than in most other places.
Great Midwest Balloon Fest
Why not take a trip to the U.S. Bank Great Midwest Balloon Fest? This is a festival which takes place in Kansas each year in August. The gathering is a sight to behold with more than 50 balloons there, including some in unusual shapes. The festival is a great chance to meet those who spend their spare time ballooning and you can take along chairs or picnic blankets so that you can sit back, relax and enjoy the amazing views. The event draws in more than 50,000 visitors each year, so you can also expect to meet a lot of new people!
Other Places for Ballooning
Another great site for ballooning is the state of Colorado and one of the reasons for this is the variety of landscapes such as canyons, rivers, mountains and the plains. The good news is that there are plenty of operators in the region who can arrange a flight for you. Many of these come with optional extras such as a sit down breakfast or other meal, champagne and classical music. Many of the flights are a minimum of one hour and you can even spend as much as four hours on a balloon ride here. Most of the flights begin at sunrise to make the most of the best conditions.
There are several options when it comes to departure points. Cities such as Boulder, Denver and Colorado Springs are popular, as are the mountain resort towns such as Aspen, Vail and Breckenridge. You get the chance to learn how the balloon is inflated and can take an active part in operating the balloon. As a reminder, you might be offered a DVD of your flight as a permanent souvenir.
Colorado is also home to a number of different balloon festivals each year. In February, Lake City hosts its own festival while in May you should be heading over to Ridgway. In July it is the turn of Steamboat Springs. September is the really busy month with separate festivals taking place at Colorado Springs, Pagosa Springs, Rocky Ford and Snowmass, among others.
New Mexico offers Albuquerque as a launch site for balloon rides. These also take place at sunrise and give you the opportunity to see the Rio Grande River from a whole new angle. The altitudes of the flights will vary to help you to make the most of what you see and will even fly close enough to the tree tops that you could almost touch them. The Dakota Black Hills are also best viewed from the comfort of a hot air balloon. This ride is one of the most popular in the region and you get to see plenty of wildlife as well as beautiful scenery.
Tips for Ballooning
When spending time on a balloon ride you need to think of comfort before style. Ensure that you are dressed in warm clothing – preferably layers. It can get warm as you rise into the air. Hot air balloons are widely considered to be one of the safest ways to fly and when flying with a recognised operator you can be sure that all the safety standards have been met. You will fly at a height of anything up to 3000 metres and most people find that issues such as vertigo and motion sickness are not a problem on a balloon flight.
There are few age restrictions although most operators will not take children under the age of six. To be sure of a place on your chosen ride you will need to book in advance, nevertheless, you will have to call ahead on the day to make sure that the conditions are right and that the flight is going ahead. Refunds are usually given in full if a flight cannot be rescheduled at a time to suit you.