Arizona hot air balloon rides are truly unforgettable experiences. While the Arizona landscape is beautiful from the ground, heading up into the sky and getting a view from above can put a whole new perspective on things. You'll soar over desert terrain and rugged mountains on Arizona hot air balloon rides, and thanks to knowledgeable guides, you can also learn about the flora and fauna that can be spotted below. More often than not, the balloons stay relatively close to ground, affording opportunities to really get a good look at things.
For the ballooning enthusiast, taking to the skies in a hot air balloon at least once is essentially a must on Arizona vacation. It can also be worth planning your trip around a balloon festival. There is more than one balloon festival in Arizona to choose from, and they see the skies filled with colorful balloons of various designs.
When adding a balloon ride to your list of things to do in Arizona figures as a main priority, there are four main destinations where they are offered. These destinations include Phoenix, nearby Scottsdale, Sedona to the north, and Tucson to the south. Regardless of which destination you choose, the experience is bound to be a fantastic one, and thanks to the relatively reliable Arizona weather, chances are good that your flight won't be called off. The morning hours are the best time to enjoy Arizona hot air balloon rides, and that's when the bulk of them are offered by the regional companies.
For those who are planning on enjoying Phoenix area balloon rides, the local companies can arrange pick-up service at a hotel or resort. You can also drive to the launch site or find other transportation if you prefer. As is typical of Arizona hot air balloon rides in general, the Phoenix balloon rides include a short orientation session to help riders get prepared for what's in store. After that, it's up into the sky you go, and it doesn't take long for the 360-degree views of the Sonoran Desert to become amazing.
As you glide with the breeze at an elevation of 400 feet or less on a Phoenix or Scottsdale hot air balloon ride, you might spot a number of animals, as well as cacti. Commonly spotted animals include quail, jackrabbits, relatively elusive coyotes, and curious roadrunners. Often times, the balloon will descend upon the desert floor, stopping just inches from the cacti and trees below before ascending again.
Heading north of Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona hot air balloon rides can make a stop in Sedona. Set among stunning red rock formations that are almost too breathtaking to believe, Sedona is a special place, and taking it all in from above is a true delight. Two main companies offer balloon flights in the more immediate Sedona area, while others advertise to the Sedona tourists and explore the skies above the nearby Cottonwood area. The views are amazing regardless. As is true of Arizona hot air balloon rides in general, you will usually take to the skies for about an hour on the Sedona area balloon rides, and after you land, a champagne toast and a picnic will be waiting for you. Gourmet food often comes into the picture.
If you want to get a good look at some immaculate desert terrain, then a Tucson hot air balloon is worth considering. Saguaro cacti abound in the hilly and rugged Tucson area desert, and the chosen routes usually involve flying over the west branch of Saguaro National Park and the picturesque Tucson mountains. Deer, javelina, foxes, and majestic red-tailed hawks figure among the creatures that you can expect to see when flying over the Tucson area in a balloon, and numerous elevation changes are to be expected.
Rounding out the options for Arizona hot air balloon rides is an option that is seriously worth considering. In northeastern Arizona and southeastern Utah is Monument Valley. Offering what might be the most iconic Southwestern desert landscape, Monument Valley is full of soaring sandstone spires, stunning monoliths, and awe-inspiring mesas. It's an austere kind of beauty that is truly magical, and taking it all in from a comfortable balloon basket is awesome.
For true ballooning enthusiasts, planning a trip around a balloon festival in Arizona can make a fun-filled Southwest escape. The Chandler Balloon Festival is one of the most popular festivals of its kind in the state. It takes place over the course of three days in early November, with tons of morning liftoffs filling the sky with balloons. In the evening, hot air balloons with glowing displays take their turn flying around. In addition to balloon rides and glowing balloon displays, those who choose to include the Chandler Balloon festival on their Arizona travel itinerary will also have the chance to enjoy balloon races, arts and crafts, some good food, various vendor booths that sell all kinds of things, and an array of fun carnival-like attractions.
Another balloon festival in Arizona that balloon enthusiasts are likely to enjoy is the Goodyear Balloon and Air Spectacular, which, as the name would imply, is held in the small city of Goodyear near Phoenix. Much like the Chandler Balloon Festival, this festival features morning liftoffs, desert glows in the evening hours, and fun ground attractions. There's even a special kid's zone area for the little ones to enjoy. The largest balloon festival in Arizona, the Goodyear Balloon and Air Spectacular is held over the course of three days in late October. Worth noting is the air show, which welcomes back the U.S. Navy Blue Angels from time to time.