Located in north-central New Mexico, Albuquerque is the most populous city in
the state of New Mexico. Albuquerque has one of the highest elevations of any
major city in the U.S., ranging from 4,900 feet (1,500 m) above sea level near
the Rio Grande to over 6,700 feet (2,000 m) in the foothill areas of Sandia
Heights and Glenwood Hills.
Getting there ...
We have spent previous 2 days at
White Sands National Park, and drove from there via
Trinity Site to
Albuquerque. The city hosts the International Balloon Fiesta, the world's
largest gathering of hot-air balloons, taking place every October at a venue
referred to as Balloon Fiesta Park, with its 47-acre launch field. This Balloon
Fiesta was one of the main reasons to have this New Mexico trip.
- Boca Negra Canyon, Petroglyph National Monument
into basalt in the western part of the city bear testimony to an early
Native American presence in the area, now preserved in the Petroglyph
National Monument. Petroglyph National Monument protects a
variety of cultural and natural resources including five volcanic cones,
hundreds of archeological sites and an estimated 24,000 images carved by
Ancestral Pueblo peoples and early Spanish settlers.
- Albuquerque International Balloon
For nine days in October the Albuquerque International Balloon
Fiesta creates an enchanted world of special shape balloon rodeos, twilight
balloon glows, and vibrant balloon-filled skies. From its modest
beginnings in 1972 with 13 balloons launching from a shopping mall parking
lot, the Balloon Fiesta has grown to a 9-day event launching from the
custom-designed, 365-acre Balloon Fiesta Park. With over 500 balloons, it is
the largest ballooning event on earth (and also claimed to be the most
photographed event in the world).
We left the hotel at 4:30PM, but the
traffic to the Balloon Fiesta Park was really bad. We decided to park
at nearby shops and walked (~20 min) to Balloon Fiesta. It did not only
beat the traffic, but also saved us $20 parking fee :-)
- Evening Glow & Fireworks
The Evening Glow is a static display of
the balloons after sunset in which their burners illuminate them (both
synchronously and asynchronously). It's hard to describe the
excitement when balloons started to glow frantically just in front of you.
We had an early start at 4:30AM to head to the Balloon Fiesta again for
another session on Sunday morning.
- Dawn Patrol
The Dawn Patrol consists of a group of selected balloons
that launch prior to sunrise every morning. When the
first balloon took off
gradually into the sky, the crowd was cheering as loud as possible.
- Mass Ascension
The most popular event, the Mass Ascension, is
when all 500+ balloons launch from Balloon Fiesta Park during the same time
frame. It usually takes less than two hours for all 500+ balloons to launch.
It was really an amazing view and feeling to see the sky was full of
colorful balloons floating around gracefully.
The majority of balloons were in the air by 8:30AM.
It's time for us to go back to hotel to take a break before checking out.
Here is the official guide for the
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta for 2021. It should be useful
for anyone who may want to plan a future trip.
- Old Town
Historic Old Town has been the heart of Albuquerque since
the city was founded here in 1706. Here you'll find the historic San
Felipe de Neri Church, dating back to 1793, surrounded by the charming
gazebo, where numerous music and dance performances take place at the Old
Town Plaza. We had a quick bakery breakfast/lunch, and then went
to a Brewery to enjoy the cool beer at a balcony on the 2nd floor where I
could see many tourists (and tour buses) come and go around the plaza.
One special museum at the Old Town is the
Rattlesnake Museum. It is a small
museum but it has the largest collection of different species of live
rattlesnakes in the world (some of them were staying so still that you may
wonder if they are real alive or plastic :-)). On its website, it claims
it hosts more different species than the Bronx Zoo, the Philadelphia Zoo, the
National Zoo, the Denver Zoo, the San Francisco Zoo, and the San Diego Zoo, all
combined! I am not a big fan of snakes (in fact I am very afraid of them),
but Woanyu found it very interesting and enjoyed the visit very much (that's why
I chose this museum to visit...).
Going Home ...
October is one of the most enjoyable times of year in New Mexico.
During this season, the sky is bluer, the days are gentler, and the mornings
crisper, and it is really a pleasant experience to visit Albuquerque especially
with the event such as Balloon Fiesta. Combining the nature at
White Sands and cultural
event at Albuquerque, we have concluded a perfect 4-day New Mexico trip with
everything better than expected.
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