I have a bad habit of keeping a bucket list in my head… a bucket list that grows longer and longer by the day.
But there’s one thing I’ve always kept near the top of that bucket list: riding in a hot air balloon.
Well here’s the thing: thanks to Santa Fe Balloons I was finally able to hop in a big wicker basket and do exactly that.
Now when I say “ride” I want to make something clear: my dream has always been to go somewhere — anywhere — rather than going on some silly tethered up and down, elevator-style hot air balloon ride. This was not one of those silly tethered rides where the hot air balloon is tied to a rope the whole time. Oh no.
Like most hot air balloon rides this started out well before the crack of dawn. The four of us in the group were driven between two federally owned (BLM) spots near Santa Fe to check the winds by sending helium balloons up into the sky.
Once the pilot, a Texan named Josh, was comfortable with the weather he got together with the crew inflating a small balloon named “Cupcake.”
The inflation was largely performed with a big fan before the balloon and basket were tipped upwards.
Once you’ve climbed into the basket, taking off and flying in a hot air balloon is surprisingly peaceful. The “burners” can be loud and hot, and the first time you look directly down over the side might be scary.
And yet you’re moving so slowly and gently that it’s all calm and relaxing.
After we landed and the crew came out to help, Josh set out some snacks and sparkling wine and told us the history of hot air ballooning. According to him we travel with sparkling wine so that if we land in an unexpected area, we have a peace offering to avoid trespassing charges. This allegedly goes back to the early days of ballooning in France, shortly before the French revolution.
My recommendation: I’ve always wanted to do something like this. It’s around $300/person at Santa Fe Balloons. More than worth it for an unforgettable experience.