ABQ Balloon Fiesta II -> Tips On RV Camping & Attending The Event
PRE-POST NOTE/ This is a loooong post, so breathe deep & get comfy before you read 🙂
When we first put Balloon Fiesta on our bucket list I really knew nothing about it other than it was a lot of balloons and I had to see it. It took us an additional 5 years to finally get here and in-between many of my RV buddies attended and provided tons of good info (see links at bottom of this post) which helped us learn and decide how to plan our own trip. So what I’m about to write here is not exactly original. However what I will try and do is sum it up in my own words and provide some extra practical tips from our own experience. Hopefully between this and my linked posts, it’ll help those of you who decide to attend in the future. Here we go…
How Many Days Should I Attend?
The Balloon Fiesta happens each year in early Oct and lasts for a total of 9 days. Initially we weren’t really sure we wanted to come for it all. Did we really want to see 9 whole days of balloons?? Wouldn’t we get bored? Thankfully we were encouraged by more knowledgeable RV buddies to commit to the whole thing and in the end I’m very happy that we did. Not only did the longer commitment allow us to enjoy the Fiesta at our leisure (a few days on the field, at few mornings watching the launch from the RV, a few days crewing etc.), but it ensured we got multiple days of really good ballooning conditions, and that’s perhaps the most important item.
You see balloons are very dependent weather and conditions need to be just right for flying. Too windy and they can’t go up, too rainy and they can’t go up, too little wind and they can’t go up either. There’s absolutely NO guarantee that the balloons will fly everyday! ABQ has pretty awesome ballooning weather, especially this time of year, but winds or rain can whip up without warning and cancel an event (TWO of our evening glow events were a total bust, for example). So, if you just come for a few days you may actually miss several days of ballooning.
Should I Stay On-Site Or Off-Site?
Probably the second question everyone asks themselves is whether they should stay on-site or off-site. The Balloon Fiesta has several large on-site parking areas for RVers, but they’re not exactly attractive (just large parking lots) and they do cost some $$. There are multiple RV parks around town which are much nicer (altho’ prices inflate around Fiesta time), and there’s even free boondocking at the nearby Sandia Casino. So, for this reason off-site can look pretty attractive. But…and here’s the major but…getting into the launch field from anywhere off-site can be a total nightmare.
During the big Fiesta events up to 80,000 people attend, so traffic backs-up on all the main arteries and it can take several hours to get in. We crewed with a two off-site ladies who had to leave their hotel 1.5-2 hours before each event to get into the launch field (= where the balloons take off) on time, and even then they sometimes had trouble making it. One day the park even closed the car parking areas, sending folks away because they didn’t have anymore space. On top of this, given that weather is a factor and events sometimes cancel last-minute, this makes the time spent getting in (and out) even more frustrating.
If you stay on-site you avoid ALL of this hassle. Even the “cheapest seats” (which is where we stayed) are close enough to the launch field that you never have to get into your car, and if an event is canceled it’s only 15 easy mins to get home.
Pro Tip -> Even if you’re staying on-site do NOT plan to drive anywhere during morning or evening events. Not only is traffic a nightmare, but the Police shut down roads and force you in ridiculous one-way circles (it’s almost impossible to get back into the Standard Lot once you leave). In-between events (after 10AM and before 4PM) the roads open up again and traffic is fine.
What Are The On-Site RV Parking Options?
One of the best things about Balloon Fiesta IMHO is that there is TONS of easy RV parking within walking distance of the launch field.
- On The Launch Field -> There are 3 main parking areas right at the the launch field. VIP West & East for $85.00** per night (dry camping with 2 entry passes included) and the Presidents Compound for $150.00** per night (Sites on a bluff overlooking the Launch Field with 30Amp/water hookups & 4 entry passes included). These are definitely the “prime” sites at Fiesta.
- ~1 Mile From Launch Field -> Just down the road from the launch field is the Standard Lot area where you can stay for either $65**/night (30Amp/water hookups) or $30**/night (dry camping) during event days. Costs drop to 1/2 price in the days leading up to Fiesta. These are the “cheap seats” of Fiesta.
**These are all 2015 prices. I was told by the check-in people that prices will probably increase slightly for 2016.
All the RV parking areas are basic “rally-style” parking lots where you park right next to your neighbor without any kind of privacy so the only difference between the “expensive seats” and the “cheap seats” are how far away you are from the balloon launch action. There are people who rave about the VIP/Presidents sections (you definitely can’t get much closer), but frankly I think the Standard Lot is just fine. For a fraction of the price, you’re only ~1 mile from the main field and given there are several free, quick, easy options to get from your RV to the field (see below) I think you’ll enjoy it just as much. You can see the balloons ascend (just further away) from your site and sometimes, depending on wind direction, you’ll even get balloons landing right in front of your RV (it happened at least 5 of the days we attended)!
As for hookups versus non-hookups, you can guess which way we went! In the dry camping area you’ll hear generators every morning/evening from your neighbors (sometimes very early AM), but that’s just part of the deal, and honestly the hookup areas are not much better. The hookup sites are right in the middle of the Standard Area and are all powered by huge generators at the end of the row, which means they still have to listen to generator noise even tho’ they are paying an extra $35/night. Also porta-potties (free), garbage (free), dump ($25) and water ($25) are all available on-site (for dump/water they come to to your site, so you don’t even have to move) which makes it super-easy, even for folks who’re not used to dry camping. The extra $$ for the hookups just don’t seem to be worth it to me.
Pro Tip -> RV camping price does not include entry fee to the launch field, so you’ll need to buy entry passes to the event too. These are $8/session (= all morning OR all evening events) on-site, or you can buy a “4-pack” from Costco which pushes the price down to $6/session. Kids 12 and under are free. Extra Pro Tip -> If you sign-up to volunteer crew you get a FREE entry pass for the entire week. I’ll write about this in the next post.
What About Joining A RV Group?
On top of the various parking options on-site you can ALSO choose to join a RV group. There are multiple RV groups that are “regulars” at the Fiesta and they typically stay in the same place every year. The Airstreamers have a regular group (they stay in the VIP area), the Monacoers have a group (also VIP), Escapees has at least 2 regular groups (the Boomers & the Hops -> both in the Standard area. This year Xscapers also had a convergence), plus there are a bunch of others. Some groups are highly organized and cater meals & outings in addition to the regular Fiesta events, whereas others are just social groups getting together at the event itself. Also, some groups offer a discount on the parking price (e.g. Boomers), whereas others actually cost more (e.g. HOPs -> you pay for the extra activities/catering).
In my opinion groups are great for the social aspect, and for newbies who’ve never attended and are looking for guidance, but I think it’s highly individual and it just depends how you’d like to attend the event. Do you want a more “organized” experience? Or a more “loose” one? Do you want happy hours every night? Or do you prefer to be on your own? This is something you’ll have to decide for yourself.
We joined the Boomers group which gave us a discount on the parking price ($25/night instead of $30/night), a small discount on dump/water, a very nice parking area (we faced the central field in a long row with no-one behind us) and lots of guidance (the group comes here every year and are very active in crewing). We loved our site & appreciated the guidance of the Boomers group, but I’ll admit that I spent most of my “happy hour” evenings hanging with the awesome Xscapers group just down the way (working-age crowd with great party/social vibe).
How Early Should I Book?
Fiesta is a BIG event, and like all big events booking early (~6-8 months ahead of time) is recommended especially if you want to stay in nearby RV parks, the VIP/President’s area or with a particular group. However there ARE options for “non-planners”, so don’t be discouraged if can’t plan ahead. The bookings website for Fiesta closes down around mid-Sept and although most of the “premium” RV sites may already be gone by then, there are typically Standard Lot sites available right up to the very last booking minute. Also, not everyone turns up so there are almost always Standard Lot sites available on a first-come-first-serve basis to anyone who decides to come last minute. I talked to the check-in folks on the last day of Fiesta and they told me they hadn’t turned down a single RV since the event started, even tho’ this was one of the biggest attendance years ever.
For Boomers (who have 40 sites total and are old “regulars” here) we booked in Feb and by around April they were full. However many of the folks we know who stayed with Xscapers (first time group at Fiesta) booked less than a month or so ahead. Also we know several RVers who just “walked in” last minute to the grounds and snagged a site without a problem.
Pro Tip -> The Fiesta people will park you as you arrive so if you want to park together plan to meet somewhere before-hand & arrive at the check-in together. We met Paul’s dad at the Sandia Casino & drove in together from there.
How Do I Get From Standard Lot RV Site To The Launch Field?
One of the GREAT things about the Standard RV Parking area (apart from the reduced price) is that it is ridiculously easy to get to the launch field, even if you aren’t particularly mobile. There are 3 options:
- Walk It -> Since it’s only ~1 mile from the Standard Lot to the launch field, it only takes ~20 mins walk there. If you start the walk and decide you can’t make it all the way, there are FREE Courtesy Shuttles from the corner of Alameda/Balloon Museum Drive that’ll take you the rest of the way.
- Shuttle It -> There are FREE school bus shuttles from the Standard Lot to the launch field that leave every 10-20 minutes or so, depending on time of day. The buses start pre-dawn and are allowed to by-pass traffic (they have their own special lane) so they never wait to get in. There are 3-4 “official” Shuttle Bus-stop tents around the Standard area where you can wait for a bus, but you can also just flag them down as they drive by your RV (they’ll always stop if they have space). To get home, you catch the bus right outside the launch field and then just tell the driver which row to stop and they’ll drop you right by your RV. The buses are wheelchair-friendly and take ~10-15 minutes to get to the field.
- Bike It -> This is actually my very favorite of them all!! Believe it or not there is FREE valet bike parking right by the launch field. Just show up, hand over your bike to the handlers, get the ticket and off you go. The valet parking is only open during morning and evening events, but it is secure and it is sooooo easy. In the AM they sometimes offer free coffee & breakfast bars too. What a service!!!
Pro Tip -> If you’re planning to bike alot consider bringing a few extra inner tubes. There are lots of goats head stickers around the Standard Lot area and they are flat-makers. We didn’t get any flats, but Paul’s dad got two.
Which Events Should I Attend?
There’s lots of events during the Fiesta, including competition stuff but there are three events which are “must do’s” IMHO:
- Dawn Patrol -> This happens right before dawn (around 6AM) and consists of a single row of balloons which light up the dark sky and ascend into the night. It’s pretty darn amazing and you must go at least once. Click HERE for more info.
- Mass Ascension-> This starts soon after Dawn Patrol (around 7AM, once it’s light) and involves everyone else. It’s basically hundreds of balloons taking off at once. Mass, beautiful insanity! Click HERE for more info.
- Evening Glow -> This happens at dusk (around 6:30-7PM). Hundreds of balloons get inflated on the field and glow/flicker in the dark. Special Shapes night is particularly cool. Click HERE for more info.
What About Doggie?
So for dog-crazy folks like us, here are the two biggest downers about Balloon Fiesta. First of all doggies are not allowed on the launch field (except service dogs) so you cannot bring paws with you when you go to your events (by the way this is yet another reason why staying close to the action is better = less time away from doggie). Secondly the Standard Lot parking area has lots of goats heads/stickers which are painful for paws. So, walking doggie around your RV can be a chore. The stickers got better as the week progressed especially in the trafficked area between RV rows, but they were awful on the central field.
In order to plan for this we got these Ultra Paws Durable Dog Boots for Polly which stayed on her paws nicely (even when running) and kept her mostly sticky-free (a few, rare big ones were able to stick through). Also, every afternoon between events we took her to nearby Wildflower Park which was only 5 mins drive away, had lovely green grass & was practically empty every time we went.
How Should I Dress?
ABQ is high desert and temps can vary quite a bit. Typically early mornings are cool (sometimes even downright chilly) while afternoons are warm (sometimes even downright hot). If you layer up it’s easy to brave the morning chill and take off layers as needed as it gets warm. Also wear comfortable walking shoes! The launch field is ~1 mile long and you’ll be walking back and forth like crazy to see it all. We walked an average of 3-5 miles everyday we went to the festival (5-8 miles when we crewed), most of it on the launch field!
What Camera Should I Bring?
I’ve always been of the opinion that the best camera for any event is the camera you have on you. So if you can’t lug it, don’t bring it!
If you have a nice big SLR you can definitely bring this to Balloon Fiesta, but you may need a tripod (especially for pre-dawn and post-sunset “glow” events) and then you need to be prepared to lug everything around as you walk miles around the launch field. I bought my “big” camera the first day, but found it too cumbersome and slow (shutter-speed-wise), especially for the low-light events so I ended up ditching it for my pocket camera (I recently upgraded to a Canon PowerShot G7 X). 95% of the pics on the blog were taken with this easy point-and-shoot. Not only did this allow me to walk around unhindered by heavy equipment, but I was able to crew & fly with my camera by keeping it in my pocket and just whipping it out anytime I needed it. Paul took all his pics with his iPhone.
How Do I Get To Crew? Or Fly?
That’s a whoooooole other blog post, so you’ll just have to wait in anxious anticipation for that one 🙂
Useful Links & Posts:
- Tips For Balloon Fiesta -> Excellent blog post written by Island Girl Walkabout last year. Helped us alot! Click HERE.
- ABQ Balloon Fiesta -> Watsons Wander’s multi-part series on their experience. Click HERE.
- ABQ International Balloon Fiesta -> Official webpage. Click HERE
- ABQ International Balloon Fiesta -> RV information. Click HERE.
Any other questions I didn’t answer? Any good blog links I missed? Please feel free to comment and add links below!
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this blog post may be affiliate links, so, if you click on the link and make a purchase, I will receive a commission. Amazon, the Amazon logo, AmazonSupply, and the AmazonSupply logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. WheelingIt is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Wow, what an amazing job you have done on this post. If and when I ever get there I will be looking this up in the archives. I’m planning a trip down Hwy 395 and have picked up some good places to go by looking at your previous trips – so thank you.
Awesome post! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You answered virtually all our questions! And included info I didn’t even think to ask about (i.e. groups).
Very happy it’s helpful! It took me several days to put together the post, so I’m glad I was able to answer all your questions with it 🙂
Great post…accurate….helpful…informative….just what anyone would need to decide if this is for them…
What a great wonderful blog full of the facts! Thank you so much for taking the time out from your Funtime to organize and pour it all out in such great form! I had previously heard about the goat head problem and wondered about wheelchair tires. That’s how Hubster would be navigating. I’m assuming since bicycle tires are susceptible the same would be said about his wheels. Wondering some things about the dang things!
Are they also on the launch field? Are they also on the ground in the higher priced RV parking areas? And lastly, did you ever get the vibe on the shuttles that people were “put out” about waiting for wheelchairs to load or unload? And I guess another question…. When you walked was it over rough ground and it looks like maybe a hill or are paved walk ways available?
And thanks for the camera info also! Your little pocket cam took awesome photos!!!
All good questions and I’ll try and answer them as well as I can.
The launch field does NOT have any goats heads. In fact, it’s nice grass and is kept very smooth & clear because of the balloons (the Fiesta does everything they can to make sure the launch surface does not damage the balloons). In the launch field itself the ground is flat, and there is paved road in grids too (so, you can stay on pavement if need be and still get “amongst” the ballons).
Regarding the premium lots I have no idea if goats heads are a problem there. Maybe one of my blog readers knows and will answer that question?
I didn’t get the feeling that anyone was bothered about waiting for wheelchair folks to get on the buses. There are PLENTY of buses and they run very frequently. The ONLY time the buses got full or backed-up were after the evening glow/fireworks events, but even then it only took a MAX of 30 mins to get home to the RV.
No problem with goats heads in VIP West. All asphalt and compacted gravel/dirt. Safe for the puppies and lots of paths for long walks.
THANK you for chiming in Ben! That’s great info for folks considering the VIP sections.
Thanks so much again! That makes perfect sense about the launch field being well taken care of! I will call later to the headquarters and ask about the premium lot condition.
Ed@Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets says
You da man, girl, er woman! What a post. By now, I would expect no less. Among other things, it helped explain why I was able to book at the last minute in the Standard Lot, even though we turned right around and canceled. No doubt, we will be attending in the future. Maybe next year. And most of the reason for a hopefully smooth attendance will be because of you. Thank you Nina.
Yeah, the Standard Lot seems to have open spots up to the last minute of booking (and even after the start) of Balloon Fiesta. It’s great for folks who are non-planners or just decide to show up.
I would not take that chance anymore. All slots for this years festival, 2018 were filled in August with 800 people on the waiting list. We used to have upwards of 800 balloons launching but they decided between 5-600 were more manageable. When we moved here in the 80’s it was nothing to drive to the park and find a spot. Maybe it was in a different location. Now I will only do the oark and ride. Gates back then remained open all day and you could come and go all you wanted. Actually around 1-2 you could just walk in w/o paying parking and entrance fees.
I’ve learned so much from your blog! First we did the awesome stint as volunteers with Oregon State Parks at Port Orford’s Lifeboat Museum after you mentioned an opening at Cape Blanco on your blog. Now I see this! I’m marking my calendar for next year. It looks like so much fun. We just bought a new airstream and I see that there’s an airstream group there. We have yet to take it out, but go visit it out in our shop where it sits safe and covered waiting for me to finish up a work project. Next week we can hit the road and are heading to the Oregon coast for our first trip with Stanley…named because our neighbor said the inside looked like a thermos! Happy travels, and keep the good advice coming!
That’s GREAT to hear! I’m so glad you enjoyed your volunteer stint at the Museum and that you’ve been inspired to do more. The Airstreamers have a very active group at Fiesta so if you want to connect w/ them I’m sure you’ll have a blast (you can read the post I linked to from Watson’s Wander at the very bottom of the blog to learn more about the Airstream Fiesta experience). Happy travels to you too!
David Atkinson says
We stayed in row 15 the first four days, which is premium. 50-amp for us and surrounding spaces, just FYI. Two sessions were cancelled due to weather, used same tickets to re-enter next time. You may want to bring lightweight folding chairs with you if you don’t intend to “mix it up” with all the balloons during mass ascensions or glows. You may also want to pack in your own food, as event food is like 95% fried and 100% overpriced (we paid $16 for two 12-oz lattes and one small cookie). We went to the adjacent Balloon Museum today; wonderful building, but we felt overall it was a letdown. I swear, the place has more conference / meeting / admin space than showrooms. A theater showing past Fiestas would’ve been nice, as one example. What you said about getting back to the park during the event is true – it can be a nightmare! I slipped out the exit midway up the east side, and headed S to Paseo Del Norte, but the police even had the westbound exit to Frontage Road blocked. If you open your window and waive your vehicle card at them, you can sometimes get them to let you go around the roadblocks.
Cheers for the update. The Fiesta website lists the premium sites at 30Amp, so they’ve clearly got an error on there. Great to know they are 50Amp. Also really good to know that entry passes can be re-used if events are canceled. I didn’t know that. We didn’t make it to the Museum.
Great post and info. We live in Rio Rancho (10 miles NW from Balloon Park) and have attended almost every fiesta for over 20 years, but next year we are going to park our 5er and stay at the park. My hubby, Mark, crews, and my granddaughter is one of the yellow shirt people that park cars to raise money for different organizations. She has to be there at 3:30 in the AM, stay til 9AM and be back at 2:30 PM until about 9PM. Lots of driving back and forth! The pilot Mark crews for got a RV site for free in return for working to prepare the RV areas, and Mark really liked having a place to hang out. We are going to get on that wagon next year! I agree 100% that staying at the park is the way to go. You aren’t here to enjoy sitting around at your rig anyway. My advice is to plan to stay in NM a few extra weeks and enjoy some of our state parks to see beautiful scenery.
The park and ride service is a good way to avoid the traffic, also. The fee includes entry to the field, and usually the wait is just a few minutes. There are several places to catch the buses, including a few on the west side of the river.
I have to say the weather was unusually warm this year. Often you need at least a light jacket all day, and it is much colder before dawn than it was this year.
As great as your pictures are, I think you will agree that pictures just can’t do the event justice. It is just such a beautiful, family friendly event! There is nothing like it.
I do agree with David about the food. We usually make breakfast burritos , and back-pack it into the park. There are much better places to get great food, for about 1/3 the price, without standing in a long line. For some people, though, the food is part of the fun, and crews are often provided with breakfast, at the least.
Thanks for the great post, Nina. Sorry about Polly’s paws. Those goatheads are my least favorite thing about New Mexico!
Love the input MaryAnn. I actually spoke to someone else that got free camping in return for volunteering before & during the event, so it looks like there are several options there. Also nice to hear that you agree that staying on site is the best. That’s definitely been our experience these past 2 weeks.
And yeah, I think I heard the news report saying this was the hottest (weather) Balloon Fiesta ever…we hit 90’s our first few days here which meant running the generator (and air conditioning) all afternoon. Thankfully the weather broke and we enjoyed mid-70’s during the day and mid-50’s at night the rest of the time. I’ve had buddies from previous years who told me they needed puff jackets in the morning, so it’s definitely been unusually mild this year.
Lastly great tips on food. We never had time to eat at the park, so I didn’t get a good sense of the prices. I know the vendors pay big $$ to be on-site, so I’m not surprised the prices are inflated.
Mary Ann says
In fairness, I should say that the vendors do pay big fees for their space in the park. Some long time vendors have had to drop out of the fiesta, because even at the inflated prices, they just couldn’t make it pay. We have just found it more fun to go quite early, find a nice table, and eat our breakfast at the park. Rather do that than sit in traffic. Not an issue for us the past few years anyway. There is not a lot of traffic at 3:30!
Great information! I hope to to it next year – or the year after. You know how those
plans set in jello” go! I can’t wait for your next post.
Steve De Baets says
We enjoyed our time at the Balloon Fiesta this year also. The one item you left out is the nightly fireworks show put on by the Albequrque Journal newspaper. We were also in the Standard area and could watch the show from the front seat of our MH. Great time!
Good point! I only listed “must do” Balloon events, but the evening fireworks were indeed lovely. We could see them from our site in the Boomers section.
Thanks for all the great info. If we make it to the festival, I will be better prepared.
Thanks so much for the detailed post Nina. It will come in very handy when we plan our trip. Fabulous photos!
I’ve been looking for a resource that is complete and concise as yours for RV-ers and this is it. What a great go-to site for us. Thanks for sharing your insights with us.
Thanks for the info! Wonderful post! Been considering going to this so now it is added to my list. Waiting and tapping my foot for the info on crewing. LOL
Thank you so much for your postings! I have followed you for a few years now and love each post. In regard to ABQ – the standard lot seems fine for us (especially the price), so the question is ….can we walk to all events? We love to walk so that’s not an issue – I just couldn’t tell if walking to the events was possible. Thanks again!
YES you can. The Standard Lot is only ~1 mile from the launch field which is where ALL the events are (Dawn Patrol, Mass Ascension, Evening Glow, fireworks etc.) So, you can definitely walk it. We had friends who did exactly that everyday.
Rick Morgan says
Another great post Nina.
We had not planned to attend until a couple of weeks prior to the event and decided to stay in Santa Fe. We ordered our tickets online and printed them out (5 tickets for $35). For Sunday’s mass ascension we left at 4:00am. That actually worked out great. We got to the park around 5:00am. No traffic problems, got a parking space very close to the #4 entrance and really enjoyed getting coffee and walking along the tents prior to the laser show and morning glow without the crowds being too crazy. I carried my Nikon D5000 and JoAnne and I both used our iPhones – unfortunately, the heavy overcast made picture taking difficult. We also carried a very small collapsible camping chair and a backpack with snacks and water.
For us – not attending/being immersed in the whole event was fine and was still an amazing and “not-to-be-missed” event. For us being able retreat back to Santa Fe and escape the crowds worked.
As an aside – we were VERY impressed with how well the event was managed and organized and how well behaved and polite the “crowd” was.
Always good to hear another perspective. This is great info for the folks wondering if off-site is a better option for them.
Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous post! Thank you!!!
Everything we need to know. We generally hate crowds and big events but this sounds perfectly doable. Going on the list right now!
Nina – I just can’t say this enough….You are AWESOME. Thank you so much for all of this wonderful information. You’re blog is always my ‘go to’ blog. And I Love your sense of humor.
Thank you and now I bet you two need some serious down time from all the social activities.
Tee hee….you are soooo right! We looooved Fiesta, but we are exhausted. Definitely looking forward to some late morning sleep-ins and some serious veg days.
nikki wynn says
This is sooo on my bucket list! Thanks so much for the awesome coverage, awesome pics and in depth tips. You are making planning and getting there so much easier! Really appreciate it!
Wow, Nina and Paul visit Balloon Fiesta, and we are all the benefactors! Even though I went a couple of years ago, I don’t feel like I covered NEAR as much as after reading that post! Fantastic info! I hope to go again one day, and will sure appreciate all the great info. I have so enjoyed your phenomenal photos, both here and on FB, but just blown away to learn they did not come from the “big camera.” You got mad skillz!
Thanks so much for the lovely comments Suzanne. For some reason I never your Balloon Fiesta top tips post. I think you came here before we started following you on your blog? So, for others who might be interested here is another excellent resource post: 10 Tips for Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
Janet bickham says
My husband and I love your posts and look forward to each one. Glad you reported on this, anxious to see it in. 2016 or 2017 !
Bob Martel says
Superb post as always, Nina! I posted a link to the “Airstream Addicts” group on Facebook. I’m sure you will have inspired many more attendees in future years. 🙂
That’s mighty nice of you! And I sure hope I do 🙂
Bear Tracks Blog says
Great post. LOVE Polly’s boots!
Box Canyon Mark says
A to Z… again. Hit the “tip jar” people!!!
Box Canyon Mark
Not sure when we’ll make it, but this is a great summary of helpful information for when we do! Good to know about the stickers, we really need to get Tessa used to them for those kinds of stops. Fabulous pics, the colors are just amazing.
Polly was NOT happy about those booties when we first put them on. She put on the “why are you torturing me?” look and walked around like we’d put lead weights on her paws. It was adorable, really. What we did to help her was associate the bottles with good things -> every time we put them on we praised her profusely and gave her lots of treats. Didn’t take the smart doggie long to figure out booties meant fun! She was running around in them within a day.
What an incredible resource you’ve put together that will inspire and help others for years to come. And to think, you did it while being so deeply immersed in the event yourself! And thank you for writing this guide, so that we don’t have to do a similar one.
It was awesome having you be part of so many of the Xscaper’s events too (and getting some WheelingMadia time)!
As promised, we put up our post on the convergence and am including a link here for those interested in learning more about what our group is all about (hint: it’s not ALL about the partying 😉 ) :
Excellent post Cherie!! I hope lots of folks check it out. The Xscapers convergence was truly awesome.
J. Dawg says
Great info on the fiesta and great pictures! Thanks for sharing.
After all this great information and the fabulous pictures from these last two posts, how can we wait until next year? I’m ready to be there today! Thanks Nina!
Mich and Cathy says
Thanks for putting together such a detailed post! We’re planning on being there next year. Btw, have to ask, how was the cell coverage from there?
Good question. Cell coverage was fine (both Verizon and ATT). It got slow during some of the big events due to tower overloading, but in-between it was perfectly fine.
This was a very informative post Nina, I loved it! I definitely need to keep it handy when and if I ever go to the balloon festival. The last two years I was in the area, but didn’t attend as I was meeting up with family in Arizona. This year I stayed only one night in Tijeras. Usually I am a little intimidated to go into an area with that many people, even places like Quartzsite, but you make it sound so easy. Thank you so much. I may try it next year.
We didn’t feel overwhelmed, despite the crowds. Our site was nice & quiet and we were able to retreat back there and hide whenever we felt like it. Being close to the action meant we didn’t have to deal with traffic or long delays getting home. It worked out well. Hope you get the chance to go!
Ron & Marie says
Finally got to meet you, met expectations, we are the ones with the Eagle bus last day, tried to get involved with the escapees might join, met some nice people, we have been parking at the Fiesta, cheap seats, for 20 years, each year gets better, Abq puts on a great show, hope everyone enjoyed and will return, we live here and park in the standard lot, really nice to view from rv. Don’t really go to site, maybe once or twice if family from out of town, enjoy being at site, interact with campers, a lot of Abq local at the park, same as us. Really appreciate that you came to NM, enjoy our state and all of it’s beauty. Really enjoyed meeting you, Ron & Marie
We met quite a few “locals” who choose to stay on-site at Fiesta, even tho’ they live in the area. It’s just so convenient to be right there, and eliminates ALL the hassle of traffic. Plus the social aspect is great too. Glad we got to meet and you enjoyed your experience.
Wow, what a great post, we have wanted to come to see the balloons, and now it seems possible thanks to your great info! way to go Nina!
You really are amazing — how in the world you managed to be so immersed in the balloon extravaganza, crew, socialize, AND write such awesome posts just boggles my mind. I’ll be you’re looking forward to some time to chill out! Boondocking in the boonies, perhaps? 🙂
LOL…thanks for the compliment. I admit it was pretty hard work all-in-all. I spent just about every minute either blogging, crewing, taking pics or socializing. NO free time!! I’m looking forward to some (hopeful) downtime over the next 2 weeks.
A great post as usual about a great event. Looks like you had fabulous weather, too!
Yup, the weather was pretty good. Only 3 events were cancelled and Mass Ascension went up every single AM (which I gather is somewhat of a Fiesta record).
Your post from last year (linked at bottom of blog) was a big help to us in our own planning, so thank you for forging the way.
Maxx Trails says
Great blog, we really appreciate all the information you provided and can’t wait to cross this event off our bucket list 🙂
Fantastic report – if I could write this is what I would write – especially good information for someone visiting the Balloon Fiesta for the first time. We have parked in the Standard boon docking area and enjoy it and the bus shuttle to the launch site very much. Thank you for sharing so much good and practical information. Found a link to this post on Winnie Views blog.
Warren Baxter says
Thanks a lot for this information and yes I took a big breath but it was well worth it!!! Next year, 2017, will be our first event. We will be full time RV’ers by then and will be making reservations in a couple of weeks. We’re young 50’s and still very very active so we’ll be reaching out to the Xscapers lol. Please email me any other helpful information and hopefully we’ll see you in 2017….
Warren and Robin
Lori Loranger says
This post has been extremely helpful! Wouldn’t mind being in the Standard spots since we can get water added and tanks pumped but am a little worried about it getting too warm in the RV for our dog during the day and without an electric hookup, we can’t leave the AC on. I know you had the same situation with your pets. How did you handle that?
Rosemary Gambino says
Very impressed your just seemingly natural gift of articulating knowledge and humor. So refreshing to read.
I have a very tall Beagle/walker hound and certainly want to protect her feet, standard is all that’s available at this late date and I like to travel frugally anyway. I work for a hospital from home so rv is home for the past three years in a 2 1/2 acre pasture in Mississippi.
I use personal hotspot through att on iPhone 7 to work. I have to work while at Balloon Festival unfortunately and you may ease my mind on the connectivity levels as a securing confirmation for me.
My birthday is October 3. so will leave home on the 27th and stay for the whole festival.
Do you know if WINS RV CLUB are at the festival, I like you might be interested in the boomers group as well.
Thanks so much,
I don’t recall the WINs being there, but Boomers definitely go every year and usually the Xscapers have a convergence too. Book early if you’re thinking of it though, coz spots do book out. It really is an amazing experience. Can’t recommend it enough!
Mike Bilek says
We have extra VIP West spots for October 11-16 , 2017. Some friends cancelled and it is past the point to get a refund. We will sell for what they originally went for $405 for the five nights and include two admission tickets. Any ideas on how to get the word out or where to advertise? Mike 562-756-9231
Post on Facebook on some of the RV forums, including NuRVers, Xscapers and Fulltime RVers. That’ll get the word out!
Mike if you haven’t already sold your tickets we would like to buy them for Friday 13-16.
My name is Vicky
David Fryer says
We are so grateful for your wonderful posts. We just wrapped up our 10 day visit to the 2017 Balloon Fiesta and your information was extremely helpful. It is so impressive how much you are able to research and write about places and events. We have been on the road fulltime for about four months and have discovered that writing a blog takes a lot of time. When we are in a new area, we see if you have posted information about it and have found it to be very valuable.
The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta was wonderful this year. The weather was fantastic with only the last morning canceled. We did stay in the RV standard lot adjacent to the Fiesta and really felt like that was a huge advantage. As expected, we met many friendly folks who provided local information as well.
David and Celia
Oh I’m SO happy my posts were helpful and that you enjoyed your stay there. We had several RV buddies at the festival this year and I got quite nostalgic seeing their photos. It’s such an amazing event to attend. Cheers much for reporting back!
Danny Hoehne says
Excellent blog…..chock full of great information, pictures and maps. After a very disappointing cancellation in 2015 I’m planning for a 2020 trip from Virginia. Thanks for the great help!
So glad you found the blog useful! You’re going to love the festival. I wish you all the best for your trip next year.