If you love seeing hot air balloons, then Albuquerque is well worth a visit. Every October, over a thousand balloons gather for an international festival, taking off en masse together, flying around, and then landing later in the day. Seeing any hot air balloon do this is awesome enough, but the chance to see hundreds of them do it is mesmerizing in ways that words can’t really describe, except to say that words can’t describe it!
There are reasons why this capital of New Mexico makes such a great location for events like this. For starters, there’s a lot of land around the city that can serve as landing and take off zones for hot air balloons.
The big reason is a regional weather pattern that balloon pilots can use to navigate their craft with unusual precision. In many locales, hot air balloon pilots are somewhat at the mercy of the weather and wind. Even if they know the forecast, they can only go the directions winds take them. However, October in Albuquerque is something special.
Given the mountains nearby, balloon pilots here get access to winds that run south at certain altitudes, but north at other altitudes. A balloon pilot can always control his altitude to a large degree, so circling through these various winds means being able to stay in the air in a relative loop and have a great deal of control over where the balloon lands and when.
Watching the balloons is far from the only thing to do in this city, as New Mexico is not called the Land of Enchantment for nothing. It’s one of the largest states in the country, but also one of the least populated, so there’s plenty of space to enjoy here, balloons or not.