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New Mexico

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, Santa Fe Art and Culture

Program No. 15464RJ
See hot-air balloons decorate the sky at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, learn about the history of the Pueblo Indians and discover Santa Fe.
Length
6 days
Rating (5)
Activity Level
Starts at
3,499
Special Offer
Click on Dates & Prices below to see special offer details.

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To make your experience as safe as possible, we require all participants to be fully vaccinated. See our Safety Roadmap

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Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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itinerary
Please Note:
The itinerary for this program is different on certain dates.
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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Oct 10 - Oct 15, 2023
Starting at
3,499
Special Offer

Enroll by March 31, 2023 to take $200 off the price shown!

Itinerary Note

Please note, the program length has changed for 2023, to 6 days.

DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Oct 10 - Oct 15, 2023
Starting at
4,389
Special Offer

Enroll by March 31, 2023 to take $200 off the price shown!

Itinerary Note

Please note, the program length has changed for 2023, to 6 days.

At a Glance

Turn your eyes skyward to New Mexico’s multi-colored tapestry of hot-air balloons at the region’s world-renowned Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Trace Native American life back hundreds of years and learn how Puebloans have managed to retain their lands and traditions for centuries. Enjoy a one of a kind experience learning about New Mexico and the world's premier ballooning event.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to two miles over varied terrain. Standing for up to three hours. Elevations of 5,300-7,000 feet. Must be able to climb into/out of the balloon basket (approximately 4 feet tall) for the balloon ride. Some days will include very early departure times for the mass accessions at Balloon Fiesta Park.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Experience Balloon Fiesta up close -- from viewing set up and inflation, to taking a breathtaking Balloon flight of your own.
  • Enjoy Santa Fe, experiencing its abundant culture and learn about the area's Native American and Spanish history.
  • Learn about the history and science behind hot air ballooning from a local pilot and expert.

General Notes

Max of 160 participants, divided into four groups of 40 for some activities. 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
Don Boyer
Don Boyer is a balloon pilot and currently an assistant chief flight instructor for the FAA-certified Airborne Heat Flight School. He took his first balloon flight in 1985 at the age of 32, later acquiring his own balloon system and private and commercial pilot certifications. In 1994, Don became a contract pilot for the renowned World Balloon Corporation in Albuquerque. He recently retired as the safety director for LRC Trucking, Inc., where he managed driver safety programs and federal and state DOT/OSHA compliance.

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

Profile Image of Don Boyer
Don Boyer is a balloon pilot and currently an assistant chief flight instructor for the FAA-certified Airborne Heat Flight School. He took his first balloon flight in 1985 at the age of 32, later acquiring his own balloon system and private and commercial pilot certifications. In 1994, Don became a contract pilot for the renowned World Balloon Corporation in Albuquerque. He recently retired as the safety director for LRC Trucking, Inc., where he managed driver safety programs and federal and state DOT/OSHA compliance.
Profile Image of Elena Junes
Elena Junes View biography
Elena Ortiz-Junes is a native New Mexican and member of the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo. She has worked for many years as a study leader and group leader for numerous organizations and universities, providing a unique perspective on the region and its rich cultural tapestry. She is a writer and founding board member of Red Media, an indigenous owned and operated media project that highlights Native writers. Elena is also a board member of the University of New Mexico’s Alfonso Ortiz Center for Intercultural Studies.
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.
The Wines of New Mexico
by Sandersier, Andy
Georgia O'Keeffe: A Life
by Robinson, Roxana
The Santa Fe School of Cooking Cookbook
by Susan D. Curtis
Contains some of the very best recipes from Santa Fe School of Cooking and features glorious photography.
The Journey of Coronado
by Casteneda, Pedro
Cowboys & the Trappings of the Old West
by William Manns, Elizabeth Clair Flood & Charlotte Berney
Santa Fe and Taos: The Writer's Era 1916-1941
by Weigle, Marta & Fior, Kyle
True Tales and Amazing Legends of the Old West: From True West Magazine
by Editors of True West
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.
Ballooning: A History, 1782-1900
by S. L. Kotar & J. E. Gessler
This book chronicles development and advances in hot air ballooning.
Through the Eye of the Deer: An Anthology of Native American Women Writers
by Dunn, Carolyn, & Comfort, Carol
Medicine in the Old West: A History, 1850-1900
by Jeremy Agnew
Neon Pow Wow: New Native Voices of the Southwest
by Anna Lee Walters
Along Route 66
by Scott, Quinta
Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O'Keeffe
by Lisle, Laurie
Anasazi: Ancient People of the Rock
by Muench, David and Pike, Donald G.
House Made of Dawn
by Momaday, N. Scott
The Essence of Santa Fe: From a Way of Life to a Style
by Hammett, Jerilou & Kingsley
New Mexico's Railroads: A Historical Survey
by Myrick, David F.
Santa Fe, Its 400th Year: Exploring the Past, Defining the Future
by Dean, Rob
This fresh presentation, 400 years after the Spanish founded Santa Fe in 1610, presents the full art of Santa Fe's story that sifts through its long, complex, thrilling history. It illuminates Santa Fe's enduring promise to cling to roots that are bottomless and to leap into a future that is boundless. Many illustrations, timelines, index, and detailed biographies.
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.
Migrations: New Directions in Native American Art
by Devon, Marjorie
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6 days
5 nights
11 meals
4 B 2 L 5 D
DAY
1
Program Registration, Welcome and Orientation, Dinner
Albuquerque
D
Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m. Remember to bring our Road Scholar name tag (sent previously).

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 for your color group. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived. Orientation by color group: 5:00 p.m. The Group Leader for your group 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/ weather conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: Welcome dinner at the hotel.

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

DAY
2
New Mexico History, Old Town, About Hot-Air Ballooning
Albuquerque
B,L,D
Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles over the course of the day; standing up to an hour at a time; paved and unpaved, uneven terrain, some stairs.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will begin the morning with an overview by our local expert of the area’s history, from its earliest Ancestral Puebloan inhabitants to Spanish and American colonists and settlers who followed. After a short break, we’ll set out on a walking field trip with our knowledgeable Group Leader into nearby Old Town, 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.

Lunch: At the hotel.

Afternoon: After lunch we’ll be joined by an expert professional balloonist who will give us a presentation on hot-air ballooning, which will prepare us for what we will see and experience at Balloon Fiesta this week. Then we'll have some time to relax or explore before dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for tomorrow's early morning field trip.

DAY
3
Balloon Mass Ascension and Evening Glow, Pueblo Cultural Ctr
Albuquerque
B,L,D
Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town

Activity note: Board motorcoach at 4:45 a.m.; getting on/off motorcoach; traveling 40 miles for up to two hours, depending on traffic; walking up to two miles over the course of the day both inside and outside, over paved and unpaved trails; crowded conditions. Standing for one 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 5:00 a.m. for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Park to experience the Special Shape Rodeo™ Mass Ascension. 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. . 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. 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; participants are welcome to explore the launch field independently to see what interests each of us most. 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. Then we will board our motorcoach, and go on a field trip to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC).

Lunch: Catered lunch at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.

Afternoon: The IPCC 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 Chasers' Club at Balloon Fiesta Park.

Evening: We’ll then step out to experience Special Shape Glowdeo™ — a special moment at dusk when tethered balloons ignite their burners and inflate without launching, glowing from within in a display of rich colors. The AfterGlow™ Fireworks Show will then light up the sky with a spectacular display. We’ll return to the hotel after the show and prepare for tomorrow's early morning field trip.

DAY
4
Balloon Flight, Mass Ascension, Free Time, Balloon Glow
Albuquerque
D
Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town

Activity note: Board coach at 4:00 a.m.; getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 30 miles, up to 2 hours depending on traffic. Walking up to 2 miles over the course of the day; varied terrain with inclines; crowded conditions. For the balloon ride, you must be able to climb into/out of the gondola and stand for up to two hours. Balloon ascensions and flights are weather-dependent and may be cancelled at any time by Balloon Fiesta officials.

Breakfast: On your own at Balloon Fiesta Park. Coffee and doughnuts are available at the Hospitality Tent. Other breakfast items are available for purchase.

Morning: We will board the motorcoach and depart at 4:00 a.m. for Balloon Fiesta Park. This morning’s event is the Special Shape Rodeo™ Mass Ascension and our opportunity to ride in a hot-air balloon operated by Rainbow Ryders, the official balloon ride operator for the Fiesta and the only one authorized to give balloon rides directly from Balloon Fiesta Park. Their pilots have flown more than 23,000 hours carrying more than 220,000 passengers over the years. Many people have said riding in a hot-air balloon is one of the most peaceful experiences they’ve ever had. Each gondola holds from 12-14 people standing. The balloons lift from the ground to a maximum altitude of several thousand feet. We will be up for approximately an hour, moved by the wind, then return to the park via one of Rainbow Ryders chase cars to celebrate with a traditional champagne toast. The entire experience takes approximately 4.5 hours and we expect to return to the hotel by approximately 11:00 a.m.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. Not to be confused with “Tex-Mex,” New Mexican cuisine has been influenced by Native American and Spanish techniques and ingredients. There are a number of restaurants within walking distance of the hotel. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: The remainder of the morning is free for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests each of us most. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. In the late afternoon we'll depart by motorcoach for Balloon Fiesta Park.

Dinner: At the Gondola Club at Balloon Fiesta Park.

Evening: We’ll then step out to experience Special Shape Glowdeo™ — a special moment at dusk when tethered balloons ignite their burners and inflate without launching, glowing from within in a display of rich colors. The AfterGlow™ Fireworks Show will then light up the sky with a spectacular display. We’ll return to the hotel after the show.

DAY
5
Visit Santa Fe, Museum Hill, Santa Fe Plaza, Free Time
Albuquerque
B,D
Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 130 miles roundtrip, approximately 2.5 hours over the course of the day. Walking up to 2 miles, standing for 2 hours at a time; varied terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will board our motorcoach for a full-day trip to Santa Fe. Established by the Spanish in 1610, this is the oldest capital city in North America and home to the oldest public building in the United States, the Palace of the Governors. Once in Santa Fe, we will visit Museum Hill, where we will explore the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture and the Museum of International Folk Art. The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture tells the story of the indigenous people of the Southwest from the earliest times to modern day, featuring some 70,000 objects, documents and artifacts. The Museum of International Folk Art focusses on indigenous populations from around the world through their art — ranging from ceremonial dress and masks to furniture. The museum hosts the largest collection of international folk art in the world, with multiple wings displaying more than 130,000 examples of folk and traditional arts from around the world. We will then ride downtown to the historic Plaza area. On arrival, we’ll set out on a short walking field trip with our Group Leader to historic Santa Fe Plaza, the heart of the town for nearly four centuries. As we walk, we’ll learn about Santa Fe’s history, as well as the art, architecture, and cultural diversity that make it one of the most fascinating cities in the country.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like. There are a number of restaurants within walking distance of the Plaza; your Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: The remainder of the afternoon is free for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests each of us most. Nearby museums and sites of interest include the Palace of the Governors, the New Mexico Museum of Art, the New Mexico History Museum, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Loretto Chapel, and the State Capitol Building. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. We will rendezvous at an announced time and place, reboard our motorcoach, and ride to Albuquerque for our farewell dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: Returning to the hotel, prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
6
Program Concludes
Albuquerque
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 11:00 a.m

Breakfast: At the hotel. 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.