North America

Best places to ride a hot air balloon this fall

When it comes to sight seeing, there are few methods more thrilling than a hot air balloon ride.

After lifting off using a burner to heat the air, the only thing separating you from the ground is a basket and a couple thousand feet. Drifting with the whim of the wind, most trips will have you floating for about an hour and you never quite know where you’ll land.

Hot air balloon rides are awesome adventures and they’re at the top of many bucket lists. There’s arguably no better time to go than in the fall when you can soar over treetops of changing colors and get a peak at wildlife preparing for winter.

When you’re ready to take off on your hot air adventure, head to one of the best destinations in the U.S. for top-notch adventure with an unbeatable view.

  • 1. Albuquerque, N.M.

    Albuquerque, N.M.

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    Home to the largest ballooning event on earth—the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta—this city is the premiere destination for all things hot air balloon. Visit during the first week of October to see more than 500 elaborately colored balloons take flight during the festival. The show is magnificent from the ground, but it’s even better to be part of the sky-bound display. Check online for the event schedule and information on balloon rides throughout the festival.

  • 2. Letchworth State Park, N.Y.

    Letchworth State Park, N.Y.

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    Not far from the world famous Niagara Falls, you’ll find a lesser-known gem called Letchworth State Park. The park, regularly called “The Grand Canyon of the East,” is home to 20 stunning waterfalls, old railroad tracks and natural rock gorges that reach up to 600 feet high. The incredible scenery is best seen from the basket of a hot air balloon in the fall, when the brilliant yellows, reds and oranges are out in full force. Take the ride with Balloons Over Letchworth, the only company that launches from within the park.

  • 3. Colorado Springs, Colo.

    Colorado Springs, Colo.

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    Set in the middle of Colorado, alongside the Rockies, a hot air balloon ride in Colorado Springs will put you in the midst of some of the most beautiful alpine scenery in the country. Particularly beautiful at the end of September and beginning of October, riders might be able to catch a glimpse of wildlife wandering below. Colorado Hot Air Balloon Rides offers the highest altitude flights in the U.S. and have a great reputation, visitors should consider flying with them.

  • 4. Black Hills, S.D.

    Black Hills, S.D.

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    Take to the sky over the Custer Valley and into Custer State Park as you watch mountains, lakes and prairies drift beneath you. The area, famous for free-roaming wildlife, is especially breathtaking in the fall. Black Hills Balloons is a great outfitter in the area, offering a few different flight options.

  • 5. Lake Champlain, Vt.

    Lake Champlain, Vt.

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    When it comes to spotting fall foliage from the sky, there are few places more fantastic than Lake Champlain in Vermont. Board a hot air balloon and soar above the shores of the lake, over the foothills of the Green Mountains and, on some high-altitude rides, spot the Adirondacks. The vibrant displays on the changing trees and the scurrying wildlife below are some of the benefits of an autumn ride. Above Reality Hot Air Balloon Rides is one great company to consider in the region.

    Up, up and away to more amazing hot air ballooning spots.

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