“Everybody loves it,” says Greg Taylor of Colorado Hot Air Balloon Rides. He’s talking, of course, about the experience of seeing the world from above.
Hot air ballooning is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences everyone should try. The horizon stretches for miles. The view is a 360-degree panorama highlighting the enormity and beauty of Earth’s geographical features. And what’s best, you don’t have to be a thrill seeker to take part.
Taylor says, “It’s very peaceful, very tranquil. There’s no motion in the basket whatsoever because you’re essentially part of the wind.”
Because the balloon moves with the speed of the breeze, flights take place just after sunrise - and in some parts of the country, right before sunset - when the winds are calmest. Depending on the weather, the balloon will rise to between 500 and 1500 feet above the ground and will travel as far as 30 miles from the launch point over the course of one hour.
But you need to be flexible, cautions Taylor. Flights get canceled regularly on account of the weather. While it’s a perfectly safe activity, accidents can happen when the wind is gusting at high speeds. You also need to consider the temperature. Bring a jacket if it’s cold out, but otherwise just dress comfortably. “Where we fly it’s no colder up in the air than it is on the ground,” says Taylor.
The trip doesn’t end with your flight. After going up in the balloon, you’ll be treated to a full sit-down breakfast on site. Most operators also offer a DVD pictorial of the journey and a gift souvenir included in the price.
For the unparalleled views and surreal feeling of being “part of the wind,” it shouldn’t be a question of if you’re going to go ballooning, but of how soon you can clear space on your calendar to go as soon as possible. After all, if “everyone loves it,” you probably will, too.