New Mexico
Highlights of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Discover ancient petroglyphs, explore unique museums and learn the history, science and art of ballooning as you experience the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
Rating (4.82)
Program No. 10427RJ
5 days
Starts at
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5 days
4 nights
11 meals
4 B 3 L 4 D
Getting There
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Registration, Orientation, Introductions, Welcome Dinner
DoubleTree by Hilton Albuquerque

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration 3:00-5:00 p.m.: After checking into the hotel and getting your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff, to get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule and other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet at the front desk when you check in. Orientation at 5:00 p.m.: The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the program theme, the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions you may have. Transportation for program-related activities will be via motorcoach unless specified otherwise. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Your Group Leader will be the Study Guide for field trips during this program. Please be aware that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. 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 enjoy a plated meal or buffet with salad, selection of entrées and dessert plus coffee, tea, water; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Take the evening to continue getting to know your fellow participants, relax, and get a good night’s sleep for the full day ahead.

History Lecture, Old Town, Ballooning Talk
DoubleTree by Hilton Albuquerque

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; walking several blocks over paved terrain in Old Town. Activity level for this program is "On Your Feet." You must be able to walk up to a mile over uneven grass and paved surfaces in the dark at Balloon Fiesta Park, climb a flight of stairs and stand up to an hour on field trips. All activities during this program take place at an elevation of 5,300 feet; routine physical activity will be more challenging than at sea level.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel includes eggs, breakfast meats, fruit, pastries, cereals and yogurt. Coffee, tea and juice are also included.

Morning: We begin the morning with an overview by our Group Leader of the area's history, from its earliest Ancestral Puebloan inhabitants to the Spanish and American soldiers and settlers who followed. We will then travel to Old Town, where our Group Leader will introduce us to the oldest part of Albuquerque during a walking exploration of the plaza and surrounding area. 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, which dates back to 1793. The city's settlers built their homes, shops and government offices here; many of these historical structures have been converted into the restaurants, art galleries and shops that we see today.

Lunch: At a popular local restaurant, enjoy a plated meal featuring local cuisine with a selection of entrées, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages may be available for purchase.

Afternoon: After lunch we'll return to the hotel for a class on hot-air ballooning led by an expert professional balloonist.

Dinner: Plated meal or buffet at the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

Balloon Fiesta, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
DoubleTree by Hilton Albuquerque

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; walking over packed dirt, grass, and paved terrain up to one mile at Balloon Fiesta Park; standing for up to one hour at balloon museum; standing and walking for up to two hours at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.

Breakfast: Traditional New Mexican breakfast on the Chasers' Club outdoor patio.

Morning: 5:00 a.m. departure for Balloon Fiesta Park. This morning's session is scheduled to include a Mass Ascension. During Mass Ascensions all participating balloons launch in two waves as directed by "zebras," launch coordinators recognizable by their striped black-and-white shirts. 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 the events as a group; participants will be free to enjoy the launches and explore the field on their own. We'll meet the coach at a predetermined location after the balloon launch and depart for the hotel.

Lunch: Buffet lunch at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center includes a selection of entrées, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Operated by the nineteen Pueblos of New Mexico, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is dedicated to preserving and perpetuating Pueblo culture, highlighting the accomplishments and evolving history of the Pueblo people. Our self-guided visit will introduce us to New Mexico's many different Pueblos as we view the Pueblo-curated exhibits on the lower level. Return to the hotel for some time at leisure before returning to Balloon Fiesta Park.

Dinner: A buffet dinner will be served at the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum. After dinner, we'll enjoy some free time to explore the museum. The Museum showcases a large collection of balloons and related aerial artifacts tracing the history and science of hot-air and gas ballooning.

Evening: 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. Return to the hotel after the show.

Balloon Fiesta, Petroglyph National Monument, Program Close
DoubleTree by Hilton Albuquerque

Activity note: Getting on/off coach; traveling 40 miles for 1 1/2 hours over the course of the day; walking up to a mile over varied terrain at Balloon Fiesta Park; walking over varied terrain with inclines at Petroglyph National Monument.

Breakfast: Traditional New Mexican breakfast on the Chasers' Club outdoor patio.

Morning: We have another 5:00 a.m. departure for the last morning of the Balloon Fiesta. This morning's session is scheduled to include the Farewell Mass Ascension. We return to the hotel for some time to freshen up before departing for Bernalillo, NM.

Lunch: Plated meal at a popular local restaurant in Bernalillo; selection of entrées, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After lunch, we'll travel to Petroglyph National Monument, one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America. Four-to-seven centuries ago, the Rio Grande's Pueblo people carved symbols and images into the boulders along the volcanic escarpment known as the West Mesa. Spanish settlers followed suit, and depictions of crosses and horses lay side-by-side with those of suns, spirals, birds, animals and figures of hump-back flute players.

Dinner: Visit Coronado Historic Site. After lunch we go to 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, and you can descend a ladder into the restored kiva, once the site of sacred rites. See unique multicolored murals in the monument's small archaeological museum.

Evening: Program closing. We'll share our experiences and exchange our farewells.

Program Concludes

Activity note: Breakfast available from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Hotel checkout: 12:00 Noon

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys! If you are departing from the hotel this morning, checkout time is 12:00 p.m.

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