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New Mexico

Highlights of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Program No. 10427RJ
Learn the history, science and art of ballooning as you experience the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, explore the city’s unique museums and Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.
Length
5 days
Rating (4.85)
Activity Level
Starts at
1,699
Special Offer
Click on Dates & Prices below to see special offer details.

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Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Oct 5 - Oct 9, 2023
Starting at
1,699
Special Offer

Enroll by March 31, 2023 to take $100 off the price shown!

Oct 9 - Oct 13, 2023
Starting at
1,699
Special Offer

Enroll by March 31, 2023 to take $100 off the price shown!

Oct 12 - Oct 16, 2023
Starting at
1,699
Special Offer

Enroll by March 31, 2023 to take $100 off the price shown!

Oct 3 - Oct 7, 2024
Starting at
1,749
Oct 7 - Oct 11, 2024
Starting at
1,749
Oct 10 - Oct 14, 2024
Starting at
1,749
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Oct 5 - Oct 9, 2023
Starting at
2,099
Special Offer

Enroll by March 31, 2023 to take $100 off the price shown!

Oct 9 - Oct 13, 2023
Starting at
2,099
Special Offer

Enroll by March 31, 2023 to take $100 off the price shown!

Oct 12 - Oct 16, 2023
Starting at
2,099
Special Offer

Enroll by March 31, 2023 to take $100 off the price shown!

Oct 3 - Oct 7, 2024
Starting at
2,169
Oct 7 - Oct 11, 2024
Starting at
2,169
Oct 10 - Oct 14, 2024
Starting at
2,169

At a Glance

Experience the best of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, study the history of hot-air ballooning and feel the excitement of the Balloon Ascensions during several visits to the Balloon Fiesta Park. Learn how balloons are made and the science behind flying by a local expert and pilot. Discover why Albuquerque is such a perfect place for this premier ballooning event.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Walking up to two miles over uneven grass and paved surfaces in the dark at Balloon Fiesta Park; climb a flight of stairs. Standing up to two hours on field trips. Elevations of 5,300 feet.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Watch the pilots and their crews prepare huge and intricately constructed balloons for inflation and flight.
  • Enjoy balloons from countries around the world.
  • Learn about the history and science of ballooning first hand.

General Notes

This is a large group program; participants will be separated into smaller groups for some activities, including Field Trips, free time, and some meals. Groups will be determined by Road Scholar in advance of the program start; if you are travelling with someone with whom you would like to be grouped, please include their name(s) on your Personal Information & Preferences as far in advance as possible.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Sue Shoemaker
Sue Shoemaker lives on a farm in Michigan’s “thumb.” After a long career in middle level education, she prepared for a career leading groups. Her dream became a reality in 2015, and now — 26 programs later as a Group Leader and nine programs as a participant — she is an Ambassador for Road Scholar. Sue has also worked on multiple Great Lakes study cruises as well as study cruises on the Columbia River. New Mexico has been part of numerous road trips since the 1960s.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Sue Shoemaker
Sue Shoemaker View biography
Sue Shoemaker lives on a farm in Michigan’s “thumb.” After a long career in middle level education, she prepared for a career leading groups. Her dream became a reality in 2015, and now — 26 programs later as a Group Leader and nine programs as a participant — she is an Ambassador for Road Scholar. Sue has also worked on multiple Great Lakes study cruises as well as study cruises on the Columbia River. New Mexico has been part of numerous road trips since the 1960s.
Profile Image of John Layton
John Layton View biography
John Layton has visited 70+ countries and 48 states during more than 30 years in the travel industry. “As a career, travel is all I know and I’ve been lucky that I have never had a job I didn't love.” After many years sailing the seas as a cruise director, John is now a flight attendant for JetBlue, a travel blogger, and a group leader for Road Scholar. He has led Road Scholar programs throughout Florida, around Cuba, and on the Great Lakes.
Profile Image of William Manus
William Manus View biography
William Manus III is an LTA (lighter than air) certified hot air balloon pilot. He has been crewing for hot air balloons since 1996, and bought his own hot air balloon — named “Shadow Dancer” — in 2003. He participated in his first Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in 2004, leading him to attend the VFRS (Valencia Flying and Retrieval Society) St. Patrick’s Day Balloon Rallye in 2019 and 2022. Manus has continued to attend multiple balloon rallies in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Texas.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Heaven's Window: A Journey Through Northern New Mexico
by Wallis, Michael & Parsons, Jack
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.
Ballooning: A History, 1782-1900
by Kotar, S.L. & Gessler, J.E.
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
by Christianson, Scott
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
by Bannerman, Ty
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.
Albuquerque in Our Time: 30 Voices, 300 Years
by Hughes, Debra
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.
The Spell of New Mexico
by Hillerman, Tony (Editor)
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.
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5 days
4 nights
10 meals
4 B 2 L 4 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Albuquerque
D
Best Western Plus Rio Grande Inn

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m. Remember to bring your Road Scholar name tag (sent previously). This is a large group program; participants will be separated into smaller groups for some activities. Groups will be determined by Road Scholar in advance of the program start; if you are travelling with someone with whom you would like to be grouped, please include their name(s) on your Personal Information & Preferences as far in advance as possible.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 2:30-4:30 p.m. After you check in and have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff, get any updated information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived. Orientation: 5:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will review Covid-19 protocols and will adhere to local Covid-19 guidelines and requirements throughout the program. Transportation for program-related activities will be via motorcoach unless specified otherwise. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At 6:30 p.m. in the hotel meeting room.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the full day ahead.

DAY
2
New Mexico History, Old Town & Museums, About Ballooning
Albuquerque
B,D
Best Western Plus Rio Grande Inn

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles; climbing flights of stairs, standing up to an hour at a time, paved and uneven surfaces.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will begin the morning with an overview by our Group Leader of the area’s history, from its earliest Ancestral Puebloan inhabitants to Spanish and American soldiers and settlers who followed. We will then set out on a walking field trip to Old Town for an introduction by our Group Leader, followed by free time to explore the area and visit the Albuquerque Museum of Art & History and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. Both are in Old Town has been the focal point of community life since Albuquerque was founded in 1706. About ten blocks of historical adobe buildings surround the central plaza, including San Felipe de Neri Church that dates back to 1793. The city’s settlers built homes, shops, and government offices here; many of these historical structures have been converted into the restaurants, art galleries, and shops we see today. The Albuquerque Museum, established in 1967, is one of the leading institutions for art, history, and culture in the Southwest, highlighting the unique culture of the people, history, and art through exceptional exhibitions. The New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science features eight exhibition halls tracing the area’s journey through time. Other permanent exhibits include a planetarium and galleries focusing on astronomy and space exploration.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: We'll have some free time for independent explorations before returning to the hotel. There, we’ll be joined by an expert professional balloonist who will give us a presentation on hot-air ballooning.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Balloon Fiesta, Balloon Museum, Pueblo Cultural Center
Albuquerque
B,L,D
Best Western Plus Rio Grande Inn

Activity note: Board motorcoach at 4:30 a.m.; getting on/off motorcoach; traveling 40 miles for at least an hour over the course of the day (depending on traffic); walking over packed dirt, grass, and paved terrain at the Balloon Museum; standing and walking for up to two hours at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Balloon ascensions and flights are weather-dependent and may be cancelled at any time by Balloon Fiesta officials.

Breakfast: At the Chasers' Club at Balloon Fiesta Park.

Morning: Our coach will depart at 4:45 a.m. for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Park to experience the opening morning of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. From our fabulous vantage point on the Field, we are right in the action. We will be able to observe the Mass Ascension and explore the Field. Due to the large number of people in attendance and the size of the Park (crowds can exceed 100,000 people, and the launch field is 78 acres, the equivalent of 54 football fields put together), it's impractical to view all the events as a group; you may choose to stay near the Chasers' Club or walk around the field. . During Mass Ascensions all participating balloons launch in two waves as directed by "zebras," launch coordinators recognizable by their striped black-and-white shirts. NOTE: Balloon ascensions and flights are weather-dependent and may be cancelled at any time by Balloon Fiesta officials. At a designated time and place, we will meet our Group Leader for a short walk to the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, where we will have time for independent exploration of the many fascinating exhibits. We'll then board our motorcoach and depart for the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.

Lunch: At the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.

Afternoon: The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is operated by the nineteen Pueblos of New Mexico, dedicated to preserving and perpetuating Pueblo culture as well as highlighting the accomplishments and evolving history of the Pueblo people. During our self-directed exploration, we’ll have opportunities to learn about New Mexico’s many different Pueblos as we view Pueblo-curated exhibits on the lower level. We’ll return to the hotel with some time to freshen up and relax before setting out for dinner and evening events at Balloon Fiesta.

Dinner: At the Gondola Club at Balloon Fiesta Park.

Evening: This evening we will enjoy both the Twinkle Twinkle Glow™ and the AfterGlow™ Fireworks Show. The Balloon Glow is a special moment at dusk when tethered balloons ignite their burners and inflate without launching, glowing from within in a display of rich colors. Afterward, the AfterGlow™ Fireworks Show lights up the sky with a spectacular display that brings the evening to a perfect close. We will return to the hotel after the fireworks show concludes. Prepare for early morning field trip.

DAY
4
Balloon Fiesta, Coronado Historic Site, Farewell Dinner
Albuquerque
B,L,D
Best Western Plus Rio Grande Inn

Activity note: Board motorcoach at 4:30 a.m.; driving about 40 miles, approximately 1.5 hours throughout the day. Walking up to 2 miles over varied terrain, climbing ladders at Coronado; standing up to 2 hours at a time; varied terrain. Crowded conditions. Balloon ascensions and flights are weather-dependent and may be cancelled at any time by Balloon Fiesta officials.

Breakfast: At the Chasers’ Club at Balloon Fiesta Park.

Morning: We’ll set out for second morning of the Balloon Fiesta by 4:45 a.m. This morning’s session is scheduled to include another Mass Ascension. Today, we will be right on the field, among the balloons as they inflate and take flight; participants are welcome to explore the launch field independently to see what interests each of us most. We’ll regroup at a predetermined time and place after the balloon launch and return to the hotel. Afterwards, we’ll return to the hotel for some time to freshen up and relax before lunch.

Lunch: At a popular local restaurant.

Afternoon: For our next field trip, we will reboard the motorcoach and ride to the Coronado Historic Site. In 1540, Spanish explorer Francisco Vázquez de Coronado y Luján wintered at a Pueblo village on the west bank of the Rio Grande; the excavated ruins of this ancient Pueblo have been preserved here. Hundreds of rooms can be seen. Our Group Leader will give us an overview and we’ll then have time to explore independently. Those who wish to do so can descend a ladder into a restored kiva, once the site of sacred rites. We will also see unique, multi-colored murals in the monument’s small archaeological museum. Returning to the hotel, we'll have some free time. Before dinner, we'll join with our color groups for a program closing.

Dinner: At the hotel. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
5
Program Concludes
Albuquerque
B

Activity note: Hotel checkout by 12:00 p.m.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.