Besides being known as the location for a TV show, Albuquerque is undeniably and internationally known for their hot air balloon fiesta.
For an event that’s so big, it’s really understated. I didn’t realize how big it was until I went and saw it for myself. I wondered if it was hyped up and was surprised to find that it was not.
“This weekend, the most photographed place was Albuquerque Balloon fiesta,” a voice announced from the radio.
The other thing that I learned was that if you want to get that shot, you’d have to go to the festival for more than one day…
On the second day, I took their park-n-ride shuttle from the mall, which was two miles from where I was staying. I woke up at three and started walking at three-thirty in the dark. Upon arrival and checking in, they had coffee or hot chocolate for us. The buses quickly filled up, and we piled into the third bus.
It was still dark when I arrived, and the morning glow hadn’t started so I grabbed the chili tamales I’ve been hoping to try. New Mexico was famous for their chili, and Albuquerque was famous for their Hatch chili (grown in Hatch). I wasn’t able to tell the difference though. It was spicy, but makes one chili better than another?
Breakfast with red chili tamale
After having a warm breakfast, I wandered into the fields as the “morning glow” of the hot air balloon festival began. The hot air balloons started lighting up for their dawn patrol, which is a group of hot air balloon that they send up to test the fog and flying conditions. Hot air balloons really depended on the weather to fly.
This time, there wasn’t much fog.
Watching the hot air balloons at the festival was a like a gamble. I was fortunate to not have schedule much and had an extra half day to watch the hot air balloons, and the view was worth it.
The second day of the balloon fiesta showed how the sky could be with a hundred of colorful balloons. It was amazing!
Here are a few photos:SkyfulCloser View of the balloonsWith the sunriseThe Three AmigosHot Airballoon Timelapse video
After the morning show, which lasted until around 10, my friends and I went for some festival food. I finally dared to buy a small bucket of ribbon fries which was drizzled in nacho cheese and chili sauce. It was about $10 and a nice comfort snack.
By the time I finished it, the balloons had either flown away or were taken down, and we planned to see Petroglyphs National Park. It was the last stop before I caught an Uber to catch the train going back home.
There are three different locations for the Petroglyphs hike and each was at least a mile from the visitor center. I chose the one that was down south.
Hike and rocks with petroglyphs
California also had petroglyphs, but I was curious to see the petroglyphs in New Mexico. About three-fourth of a mile in, I finally caught the white etching in the rocks. They were smaller than the ones I’ve seen in California in a secluded canyon. Unfortunately, I only had twenty minutes before my ride, and I rushed back after taking a few photos.
The third thing I learned about Albuquerque was that most people I met that weekend were friendly and nice and my driver was no exception. She greeted me with a smile and asked if I mind if she played country music. (I don’t. It was one of my favorites.) We both agreed that country music had good heartfelt stories and the romance that had vanished in modern life.
I wished I could have stayed longer and wander in this city that combined the old southwest with the new, but after a half day in the sun, I was ready to head back. This weekend shocked me with the pouring thunderstorm on the first day, the friends I made on the second day, and the hot air balloons on the the third day. I never knew what kind of adventure to expect. No one can really show you how it’s like. Only you can find out by heading there yourself.
Is the Albuquerque hot air balloon festival worth seeing? Yes, and don’t forget your cameras!