Road Scholar : Home
Highlights of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Program Number: 10427RJ
Start and End Dates:
10/8/2013 - 10/11/2013; 10/2/2015 - 10/6/2015; 10/6/2015 - 10/10/2015; 10/9/2015 - 10/13/2015;
Duration: 3 nights
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Price starting at: $599.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Festivals, Misc. Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 6; 3 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 1 Dinner    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Low Salt; Low Fat; Gluten Free    

Experience the best of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, study the history of hot-air ballooning and feel the excitement of the Special Shape Rodeo or Mass Ascension during three visits to the Balloon Park. Learn how balloons are made, how they are inflated, what pilots need to know to fly them safely. Discover why Albuquerque is such a perfect place for this world’s premier ballooning event.


• Watch the pilots and their crews prepare huge and intricately constructed balloons for inflation and flight.
• See a fireworks presentation and balloon entries from countries around the world.
• Learn about the history and science of ballooning at the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to one mile over uneven grass and paved surfaces in the dark at Balloon Fiesta Park; climb a flight of stairs. Standing up to an hour at a time on field trips. Elevations of 5,300 feet.

Date Specific Information


This program attends the Mass Ascensions on Saturday and Sunday mornings and the Twinkle Twinkle Glow on Saturday evening.


This program attends the Flight of the Nations Mass Ascension on Wednesday morning the Special Shape Rodeo on Thursday morning, and the Special Shape Glowdeo on Thursday evening.


This program attends a Mass Ascension on Saturday morning, the Night Magic Glow on Saturday evening, and the Farewell Mass Ascension on Sunday morning.

Coordinated by Road Scholar.


New Mexico's vast history, diversity, creativity, cuisine, beauty and art unite in this vibrant city, founded as a Spanish colonial outpost in 1706 and built in a traditional Spanish village configuration in which civic buildings surround a central plaza. “Old Town” is just one of New Mexico’s largest city’s many gems.

Centrally located hotel, heated pool, spa and exercise room. Free airport or train station shuttle.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Tom Fisher

Tom Fisher began his career in ballooning when he attended his first Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in 1996. He purchased a balloon soon after, and earned his private pilot certificate in 1998 and his commercial certificate in 2001. Tom is an active member of the Albuquerque Aerostat Ascension Association and the AAAA Education Foundation, and is a board member and docent for the Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque Balloon Museum.
Christopher Gibson

Christopher Gibson is an award-winning artist, writer and arts educator who makes his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His work includes the Cuentos del Camino series on lower Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe and mixed-media installations at numerous museums in New Mexico and California. Over the years he has written several articles on Hispanic Arts and Culture for the magazines Tradición Revista and Imagen.
Elizabeth Schroder

After years working in transit management, administration, operations and development consulting, Elizabeth Schroder found her calling in 2014 and became an educational excursion leader. An Arizona native with a deep affinity for the Southwest, she was proud to have claimed residency in all of the Four Corners states upon moving to Santa Fe, and is gratified and excited to share her favorite corner of the world with the Road Scholar community.
Meals and Lodgings
   MCM Elegante Hotel
  Albuquerque 3 nights
 MCM Elegante Hotel
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Large hotel with mid-town location and free parking.
  Contact info: 2020 Menaul NE
Albuquerque, NM 87107 USA
phone: 505-884-2511
  Room amenities: Data ports, irons, ironing boards, hairdryers, refrigerators upon request.
  Facility amenities: Heated pool, spa and exercise room, restaurant and lounge on premises.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: best seasonal rate Arrange for pre and post hotel nights directly with hotel at (505) 884-2511.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: best seasonal rate Arrange for pre and post hotel nights directly with hotel at (505) 884-2511.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Check in at hotel anytime after 3:00 PM; register with program's group leader in designated area between 4:00-5:30 PM. You will be staying at MCM Elegante Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after breakfast on last day of program - hotel check-out by 11:00 AM. You will be staying at MCM Elegante Hotel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Parking is free at hotel.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Albuquerque
  Nearest highway: I-25 and I-40
  Nearest airport:  Albuquerque International Sunport
  From End of Program
  Location: Albuquerque
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details



To Airport




Hotel Shuttle
MCM Elegante Hotel Shuttle
phone: 505-884-2511


Per Person/One Way:


Hotel shuttle is free
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


15 minutes 




5 miles


It is a good idea to let the hotel's front desk staff know the evening before your departure that you'll need a shuttle to the airport. They can let you know what time the shuttle will depart in order for you to catch your flight.




From Airport




Hotel Shuttle
MCM Elegante Hotel Shuttle
phone: 505-884-2511


Per Person/One Way:


Hotel shuttle is free
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


15 minutes 




5 miles


Call the hotel at 884-2511 upon your arrival at Albuquerque Sunport from the courtesy phones near the baggage claim area to let them know that you need to be picked up for transport to the hotel. Call the hotel from the Amtrak Station and they'll send a shuttle to pick you up. You may also take a taxi to the hotel if you wish. Taxi fares may be shared.

Driving Directions
  From Interstate 25 Interstate 25 runs north and south through the middle of Albuquerque, where it crosses Interstate 40. From the north, take Exit 227 (Comanche, Candelaria, Menaul). Drive south along the frontage road until you reach Menaul (the third major intersection). Turn left on Menaul. Just after the first major intersection, with University Blvd., you'll see the hotel on the right. From the south, take Exit 225 (Lomas). Continue driving north along the frontage road until you reach Menaul. Turn right on Menaul and, just after the first major intersection (University), you'll see the hotel on the right.
  From Interstate 40 Interstate 40 runs east and west through the middle of Albuquerque. Near the center of town, it crosses Interstate 25. From the east, take Exit 159-D (University Blvd.) to the first light, which is Menaul. Turn right on Menaul and you'll see the hotel on the right, just past the intersection. From the west, take Exit 159-A (University Blvd.). Continue east along the frontage road until you reach University; turn left on University. Take a right at the second light, on Menaul, and you'll see the hotel on the right, just past the intersection.
Elevation Note: We will be above 3,000' the entire program (5,300' in Albuquerque).

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrive in Albuquerque/Orientation and Introductions
(Tuesday, October 8)
 Arrive To: Check in at the hotel any time after 3:00 PM; register between 4:00 and 5:30 PM with program's group leader in designated area at hotel.

There may be a brief delay in room readiness as the hotel is usually full all during the event.

 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel from 6:00-7:00 PM
 Evening: From 7:00-8:30 PM, we'll have a program orientation and introductions, plus a short video about "Balloon Fiesta: What to Expect" that will prepare you for Balloon Fiesta activities and events.
Accommodations: MCM Elegante Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Dawn Patrol at Balloon Fiesta Park/Mass Ascension/Indian Pueblo Cultural Center/Old Town/Balloon Glow/Fireworks
(Wednesday, October 9)

Note: Walking up to one mile over uneven packed dirt terrain at Balloon Park; standing up to one hour at each event (bring a cane/chair or small folding stool if you can't stand for long periods of time). Standing at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.

 Breakfast: Boxed breakfast from the hotel
 Morning: Pick up boxed breakfasts prior to EARLY morning departure for Balloon Fiesta park for Dawn Patrol, the Morning Glow, and the Flight of Nations Mass Ascension.

At 9:00 AM bus departs for return to the hotel where you'll have some free time and a class about the history of the Balloon Fiesta.

 Lunch: Lunch at a selected restaurant
 Afternoon: After lunch, there will be a visit to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and Albuquerque's Old Town.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel
 Evening: Class about hot-air ballooning. (There are no Balloon Fiesta events schedule this evening.)
Accommodations: MCM Elegante Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 3: Balloon Park/Dawn Patrol Show and Special Shape Rodeo/Balloom Museum/National Hispanic Cultural Center/Glowdeo and Fireworks Show
(Thursday, October 10)

Note: Walking over packed dirt and paved terrain up to one mile over course of the day; standing at Hispanic Cultural Center up to one hour.

 Breakfast: Box breakfast from hotel
 Morning: EARLY morning bus departure for Balloon Fiesta Park. Morning activities include the Dawn Patrol Show, the Special Shape Rodeo, and the Flying Competition.

You'll visit the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum prior to returning to hotel for some free time from 11:00 AM-12:00 PM.

At 12:00 PM, board bus for lunch destination.

 Lunch: Lunch at selected restaurant
 Afternoon: After lunch, you'll visit the National Hispanic Cultural Center, followed by a driving exploration of Albuquerque. Your program closing will take place after you get back to the hotel, followed by 5:00 PM departure for Balloon Fiesta Park.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own at Balloon Fiesta Park
 Evening: This evening's Balloon Fiesta events include the Special Shape Glowdeo, followed by the AfterGlow Fireworks Show. You'll return to the hotel after the Fireworks Show.
Accommodations: MCM Elegante Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Breakfast and Departure
(Friday, October 11)
 Depart From: Independent departures.

Hotel offers free shuttle service to Albuquerque International Sunport.

Checkout time is 12:00 PM.

 Breakfast: Hotel dining room..

Your breakfast this morning will be the last meal provided during this program.

Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Ballooning: A History, 1782-1900

Author: Kotar, S.L. & Gessler, J.E.

Description: This book chronicles the development of the hot air balloon and advances the endeavor from 1782 to the beginning of the 20th century.

Great Escapes: The Stories behind 50 Remarkable Journeys to Freedom

Author: Christianson, Scott

Description: Media of every kind love escape stories. They lead the news, inspire books, and become Hollywood movies. Several of the 50 adventures recounted in this photographic compendium became box-office smashes, including "The Great Escape" (1963), "Papillon" (1973), and "Apollo 13" (1995).

Forgotten Albuquerque, NM: Images of America

Author: Bannerman, Ty

Description: In 1706, Spanish colonists founded the Villa de Albuquerque on the banks of the Rio Grande. Three hundred years later, that once quiet farming community has grown to become Albuquerque, the largest city in New Mexico. Using over 200 vintage images from public archives and individual collections, author Ty Bannerman explores the city's many guises over time, from its prehistory as a thriving province of the Pueblo peoples to its post-World-War-II population boom.

The Spell of New Mexico

Author: Hillerman, Tony (Editor)

Description: A gathering of essays that evoke the unique and mysterious appeal New Mexico has had for some of the twentieth century's best-known writers. included are selections by Mary Austin, Oliver La Farge, Conrad Richter, D.H. Lawrence, C.G. Jung, Winfield Townley Scott, John DeWitt McKee, Ernie Pyle, Harvey Fergusson, and Lawrence Clark Powell. Hillerman's preface and introduction are choice specimens of his incisive humor and his own deep love of the state.

Heaven's Window: A Journey Through Northern New Mexico

Author: Wallis, Michael & Parsons, Jack

Description: Photographer Jack Parson's stunning images reveal the magical qualities of the upper Rio Grande region. this compelling spot in the Southwest, which includes Santa Fe, Taos and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, has long been a magnetic crossroads. travel with parsons to bustling Indian marketplaces, charming historic churches, ancient petroglyphs, lively fiestas, and haunting old ranchos. Award-winning storyteller, Michael Wallis explores the rich history of this remarkable region. Peeling back the layers of time, Wallis gets at the enchantment, turbulence, and mystery of this very special place and the people - native American, Hispanic, Anglo and others - who inhabit it.

Albuquerque in Our Time: 30 Voices, 300 Years

Author: Hughes, Debra

Description: Albuquerque, New Mexico, a city astride a great river, celebrated its tricentennial in 2006. This book pays homage to the city with a rich medley of narratives by its most colorful residents: well-loved town characters, writers, journalists, politicians, civic and business leaders who have helped shape Albuquerque's character and guided its growth.

You can't find a better value than Road Scholar.

As a not-for-profit organization, we are dedicated to providing all-inclusive educational programs at great value. From lectures to gratuities to field trips to accommodations - the tuition you pay up front is all that you pay.

Specifically, this program includes:

Plus these special experiences...

View the Daily Schedule to see more

And included with all Road Scholar programs:

© Road Scholar 2015 | Call toll-free: 1-800-454-5768