24 Feb Floating Through the Red Rocks on a Hot Air Balloon Ride in Sedona
I was expecting to feel some sort of launch or weightlessness, but instead, we could not even tell that we had left the ground. Before we knew it, we were floating hundreds of feet above ground and rising.
It was our first hot air balloon experience, and it was hard to believe we were floating in the very balloons we had watched in the same spot a year prior. We were working on a video project and made a quick stop in Sedona–part of the shot list we came up with included footage from a hot air balloon ride in Sedona, and we definitely weren’t complaining.
The morning started out with an early wake up call and a ride out to Dry Creek Road. Our tour company, Red Rock Balloons, has a permit that allows them to launch from Coconino National Forest, which means the flight takes you up close to the bright red rocks scattered all around. The balloon was set up like clockwork, and suddenly, gas was billowing out of the fuel cell and filling up the giant balloon. And by giant, I mean ginormous–I was expecting the balloons to be large, but standing so close as it inflated definitely made me realize just how gigantic the balloon was. We had a smaller group, we were told, and I’m really grateful for that. There were just nine of us in the basket including the pilot, which means two in each compartment.
Even though the size was surprising, the fact that you couldn’t feel the balloon moving was even more surprising. The pilot explained to us that because the balloon moves with the wind, you can’t tell that you are moving. Steering is done by raising or lowering the balloon into wind streams that are traveling in different directions.
Our flight’s maximum height was probably around 2,000 ft or so, and my favorite part was the views of the red rocks from above. Watching the sun rays peek over the buttes and splash across the formations was mesmerizing. It was hard to peel my eyes away from the red rocks, but I managed to catch a glimpse of a deer running below, as well. We spotted tracks of other animals in the area, but weren’t lucky enough to spot any other animals.
The ride lasts around an hour to an hour and a half, and where you land depends entirely on the wind direction and speed. All too soon, we were assuming our landing positions in the balloon (facing the middle, legs slightly bent, hands holding the handles), and the ride was over. But, that doesn’t mean the fun was ending!
After the balloons were packed up, we made our way to an overlook for a champagne toast and breakfast with a sweeping view of the red rocks.
Before diving into the beautiful breakfast spread, everyone was given a mimosa or champagne, and we all gathered in a circle for a toast of the traditional balloonist’s prayer:
“May the winds welcome you with softness.
May the sun bless you with its warm hands.
May you fly so high and so well that God joins you in laughter
and sets you gently back into the loving arms of Mother Earth.”
Breakfast consisted of muffins and fresh fruit, and it was delicious. I’m not sure if it was the view, our fellow balloon riders, the balloon ride or all of it combined, but I left feeling rejuvenated and just a tiny bit sentimental about our first fly in the sky…it definitely exceeded my expectations and was a morning we won’t forget!
Have you ever been on a hot air balloon ride?