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Bluff Balloon Festival

Listed under Ballooning in Utah, United States.

  • Bluff Balloon Festival
  • Koshare Gallup
Bluff Balloon Festival
Bluff Balloon Festival. Photo by Donna Hull
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When Alan and I attended the Bluff Balloon Festival last week (January 2010), we enjoyed a baby boomer trip that included our favorite activities—photography and exploring. But what we really longed to do was fly in a hot air balloon.

During check-in at our accommodations, Desert Rose Inn, I mentioned to innkeeper Cindy Tumeh that I was a writer covering the Bluff Balloon Festival for several online markets.

“Would you like to go up in a balloon?” Cindy asked.

“Absolutely!” I replied.

Cindy made a call and our early morning balloon ride was arranged for the next day. Alan and I would ride in Koshare Gallup during the Hare and Coyote Race. Our balloon would be the hare that the rest of the balloons (some 20+) chased.

At 6:45 a.m. the next morning, we followed Cindy to the Bluff Community Center for the pilots meeting where we met Bill Lee, pilot of Koshare Gallup balloon. When he led us outside to the parking lot to begin setting up the balloon, we quickly learned that, at balloon rallies, riders become part of the crew. In the semi-dawn, with the temperature in the low teens, the crew helped Bill prepare the basket before laying it on its side. After the balloon was stretched out in the snow-covered parking lot, Alan and another crew member had the freezing job of holding the balloon open as a fan blew cold air into it. Then, Bill turned on the gas burner, which added hot air so that the balloon would rise. Once the balloon inflated, the basket was tilted upright. We were ready to fly.

To get into the balloon, each rider placed a foot into the foothold, then swung a leg over. Alan and I found that our boomer legs didn’t have that much stretch so Bill pulled our legs over the edge and assisted us into the basket. Then, he explained the rules:

Do what I say.

Don’t be offended if I get too close, we’re in tight quarters.

Don’t touch the lines.

Tell me about any power lines or obstacles that you see. Repeat until I acknowledge you.

Don’t lean out of the basket.

Keep knees bent and soft for the landing.

Don’t get out of the basket until I instruct you to do so.

With five of us in the basket, as well as equipment, space was extremely tight. The whoosh of the gas burner alternated with complete silence. Well, except for: “Wow this is great.” “Did you see that?” “Bill, we’re coming awfully close to that bluff in front of us.” “Did you get a photograph of our shadow, Alan?”

Continue reading on Donna's blog myitchytravelfeet.

Written by  Donna Hull.

Other expert and press reviews

“Bluff Balloon Festival”

This small town represents itself as being balloon-friendly and supportive, but it's probably the amazing landscape of cliffs, deserts and bluffs that put this festival in the 'must attend' pile for many balloonists. The romantically named 'Valley of th… Read more...

Written by  World Reviewer Staff.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

This unique festival is located in Bluff, Utah and held for just a few days in the winter. The festival started off with just one balloon and has grown in size and popularity ever since! Volunteers and professionals float across the sky in hot-air balloons gliding across the red rocks of Bluff. These events are for all ages and a great way to spend time with your family. The kids will enjoy watching as the colourful orbs float across the sky with amazing precision and control from the captains. If you are lucky or have previous arrangements, you might even get to ride in one of the hot-air balloons of Bluff.

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