In Albuquerque, getting your head in and out of the clouds and daydreaming is encouraged. Especially when it’s fiesta time in early October. I’m referring to the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, where over 600 hot air balloon pilots descend on a magical patch of land in New Mexico. I first experienced Balloon Fiesta in 2010 when I went up in the air in Albuquerque and experienced the famous Albuquerque Box. Influenced by southern and northern winds, as well as terrain, the Albuquerque Box sets up pilots in fairly predictable wind patterns. If wind conditions are reliable, the box allows hot air balloon pilots to launch and land near the same spot.
Unlike driving a recreational vehicle from point A to point B, these aerostats move with the wind, and don’t come equipped with power steering, disc brakes or safety belts. I jest, but honestly, I have as much experience driving a recreational vehicle, as I do piloting a hot air balloon. I have never steered either of the two vehicles. I do, however, have experience as a passenger in both a hot air balloon and in driving from San Francisco to Albuquerque with my husband in his Ford F150 truck, pulling our Starcraft trailer. So that, ladies and gentlemen, allows me to offer my insider tips on how to experience the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta RV Park.
This was our first time attending International Balloon Fiesta in a recreational vehicle and we had a very positive experience. The Balloon Fiesta RV Park is temporarily leased from the city; it is not open year round. Like a boom town in gold rush times, Fiesta RV Park pops up in October and accommodates as many as 8,000 RVs during the nine day festival. Similar to Goldilocks trying out each of the three bear’s beds, we moved our modest truck and RV trailer from the standard RV site (priced at $35 per night) to the President’s Compound (priced at $175 per night.)
There is a price point to fit every recreational vehicle camper, but there are not enough RV sites to accommodate all attendees. With that in mind, make your RV reservation early – they will sell out. The standard level site in the South RV lot is referred to as dry camping. The ground is level and is a combination of dirt, asphalt and gravel. There are water fill up and pump-out services available for an additional fee – bring cash!
There are individual Porta Potty restrooms, but no showers on site. Box view, premium and VIP RV spaces are available with different tiered pricing and then there is the President’s Compound. The President’s Compound is as exclusive as it sounds. The cost is $175 per night, but that includes 4 entry passes, complimentary water & pump-out services and excellent views overlooking the balloon launch field.
The organization of this nine day hot air balloon extravaganza is amazing considering that much of the event relies on volunteers from directing and checking in RV campers, to driving the shuttles and golf carts and even the chase crews for each hot air balloon. Fast friendships are formed over the years and renewed once a year in Albuquerque. There are so many things to see and do in Albuquerque between events at Balloon Fiesta.
Many of the events at Balloon Fiesta, including Dawn Patrol, Balloon Glow, Mass Ascension, Afterglow Fireworks Show, Flight of the Nations, Laser Light Show and Music Fiesta are sponsored by local and national businesses. The economic impact on Albuquerque is huge and Balloon Fiesta itself is self-sustaining. Funding comes partially from RV Space Rentals, admission tickets and parking fees, so keep that in mind when you are waiting in line to check into your RV space. Insider Tip, you can arrive a few days earlier to set up, beat the rush and RV parking is half price.
Need to know:
Online reservations for Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta RV Park open in November. There is a waitlist for RV parking cancellations. RV sites range from 19 feet wide to 50 feet long. There are Porta Potty bathrooms throughout the balloon fiesta grounds and in each RV park. There are no showers at this temporary RV Park. Dogs are allowed on leash in the RV park. Quiet hours are from 10:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. Generators should not be running at night as a courtesy to your neighbor. Please note that I am not an RV expert, your experience may differ from mine.
You may want to bring bicycles on this RV vacation. Free shuttle services run from 4:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. Depending on your mobility, it’s an easy, flat walk from the RV Park to the Balloon Fiesta Park. For additional insider tips follow Nancy D. Brown on Instagram and Twitter @Nancydbrown and @VisitABQ and @BalloonFiesta on Twitter and Instagram. Use the hashtags #BalloonFiesta and #VisitABQ to follow on social media.
If You Go:
International Balloon Fiesta
400 Balloon Fiesta Parkway
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87113
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta RV Park review, photography and YouTube videos by travel writer and hot air balloon enthusiast Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of International Balloon Fiesta, however all opinions are my own.