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Old 09-16-2017, 08:04 AM   #1
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Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2018

Hey Guys,

This will be our 1st trip to this event & don't know much. I know there is some on site camping of various levels but I wondered also what other camping options are there. Do any local campgrounds run shuttles to and from the event?

Do you guys have any specific recommendations?
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Old 09-17-2017, 05:01 PM   #2
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I don't think you will find anything this late. We thought about going on our way home from Alaska. Wanted to go with Monaco International but no places left. Good luck on finding a spot.
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Old 09-17-2017, 05:27 PM   #3
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Steve,
We went in 2015, it was a great experience. When we first decide to go it was mid year and even then most of the camping was already reserved. The trick is that they require a 3 day commitment so as the slots fill it becomes more difficult to find a vacancy.

The website has lots of information that guides you through the process.

The VIP West campground is where most of the groups reserve, that is were the Monaco group reserved. The disadvantage to this area IMHO is that they have erected large structures between the campground and the field where the balloons take off. It is at a lower elevation.

The Presidential Campground is large, paved, has hookups and a nice grass viewing area above the field. It was packed and it looked like a number of the balloonists stayed there.

The VIP East is located next to the Presidential Campground, it is elevated and small, holds ~75-100 rigs depending on how they are parked. This is where we stayed. No hookups so boondocking is required. OK if the neighbors are considerate about generator usage and have an exhaust stack (ask me how I know).

I think our decision to stat at VIP East worked out and would probably do it again. It is easier to access when you check in and during the event.

We actually arrived 2 days before we were suppose to check in and staged at the Sandia Casino, the did allow RV and had an area roped off. It was packed, a number of people bring there rigs and leave them during the week. A little bit of a hassle but worth it as the parking lot allows for great views of the balloons taking off. The Casino has restaurants etc so that's a benefit also.

Check in time at the festival for RV's is 12 noon. We timed are arrive perfect and was the first in line. Parking is done on a first come first serve basis so we were lucky in that a party who had a front row spot left the AM and we pulled right in, we could sit in the RV and watch the activities. We did walk down to the field a couple days, my wife actually walked through as they were taking off. I stayed on top taking hundreds of pictures.

The activities actually end pretty early each day so you can spend time site seeing. We went the old town area one day, worth the trip.

After the show we went up to Sante Fe and stayed 3-4 days then on up to Las Almos and then to Taos, then south to Las Cruces.
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Old 09-17-2017, 07:32 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jacwjames View Post
Steve,
We went in 2015, it was a great experience. When we first decide to go it was mid year and even then most of the camping was already reserved. The trick is that they require a 3 day commitment so as the slots fill it becomes more difficult to find a vacancy.

The website has lots of information that guides you through the process.

The VIP West campground is where most of the groups reserve, that is were the Monaco group reserved. The disadvantage to this area IMHO is that they have erected large structures between the campground and the field where the balloons take off. It is at a lower elevation.

The Presidential Campground is large, paved, has hookups and a nice grass viewing area above the field. It was packed and it looked like a number of the balloonists stayed there.

The VIP East is located next to the Presidential Campground, it is elevated and small, holds ~75-100 rigs depending on how they are parked. This is where we stayed. No hookups so boondocking is required. OK if the neighbors are considerate about generator usage and have an exhaust stack (ask me how I know).

I think our decision to stat at VIP East worked out and would probably do it again. It is easier to access when you check in and during the event.

We actually arrived 2 days before we were suppose to check in and staged at the Sandia Casino, the did allow RV and had an area roped off. It was packed, a number of people bring there rigs and leave them during the week. A little bit of a hassle but worth it as the parking lot allows for great views of the balloons taking off. The Casino has restaurants etc so that's a benefit also.

Check in time at the festival for RV's is 12 noon. We timed are arrive perfect and was the first in line. Parking is done on a first come first serve basis so we were lucky in that a party who had a front row spot left the AM and we pulled right in, we could sit in the RV and watch the activities. We did walk down to the field a couple days, my wife actually walked through as they were taking off. I stayed on top taking hundreds of pictures.

The activities actually end pretty early each day so you can spend time site seeing. We went the old town area one day, worth the trip.

After the show we went up to Sante Fe and stayed 3-4 days then on up to Las Almos and then to Taos, then south to Las Cruces.


Thanks Jim. I appreciate the details. We have started planning a trip west with our best friends next summer and the festival will the culmination.
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Old 09-17-2017, 09:19 PM   #5
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If you are talking about next year 2018, the RV spots go on sale after the 2017 event(Oct 24), and the premium spots sell out fast. I don't know of any RV parks that run shuttles, but there is a park and ride service from several sights. All RV park prices go up for the event.

Links to this years info.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta -

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta - RV Information

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Old 09-17-2017, 09:30 PM   #6
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We went with a "Tour" company 2 years ago and had the time of our lives. It was a 10 day package with meals every day and Bus Tours on the weekdays when there is little activity. We had water, 30 amp service and pump out service. The balloons went right over our parking location. We toured all of the Utah National parks prior to the Balloon Festival so we made it a big trip.
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Old 09-17-2017, 09:40 PM   #7
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The Route 66 Casino on the west end of town has a brand new RV park. I'm a local, so if you need advice or help I'd be glad to lend a hand.
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Old 09-22-2017, 12:25 PM   #8
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enchanted RV off of I-40, and the Isleta Resort & Casino further south will have a lot of spaces.

So, if you do not mind the drive
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Old 10-03-2017, 10:36 PM   #9
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No reservation camping

We will be driving the motorhome through Albuquerque the last Friday of the event and wanted to see the Saturday morning launch (Oct. 14th).
I read on-line that you can drive up and boondock without a reservation at the balloon festival if there is space.

For those that have done this, do you think there is a chance of driving up around 3pm on Friday and getting a "standard" spot in the south parking lot for the night?
If it is anything like Oshkosh, many campers leave later in the week to start their drive home and lots of spots open up closer to the flightline but it does not seem they have nearly the size camping areas for this event.

I am trying to decide if we should just take a chance at getting a spot there at the festival or trying to book something either outside of town and then drive in early that morning.
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Old 11-01-2017, 07:13 PM   #10
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You might check with the Monaco Owner's group. They had the up front parking this year during the second half of the event in VIP West parking.


VIP West is a short walk each morning to the field.


The VIP West is dry camping...no hookups, but we didn't really find that to be a deterent. Generator run times are from 5am to 10pm. We only ran ours 6.5 hrs total for the 4 nights we where there.
This is a must see event. I cannot express how wonderful the whole experience is. We walked the dogs, and hit the field by 5:30 to watch the Dawn Patrol lift off. There is a Flag ceremony, and anthem playing...then the mass accension begins. Hundreds of Balloons all launching in a controlled chaos. If the winds are right...you can catch the streamer and ring toss competitions. Catch Breakfast at one of the many food vendors along the east edge of the field.


Walk back to the RV...take a break, and off to the city to see the sights and have lunch. Late evening...the Balloonist take the field again to do the evening GLOW, followed by fireworks...and live music on one of the nights.
The Balloon Museum is there too...so you can tour the exhibits for a small entrance fee.
We went this year for the first time...and will try very hard to see it again the year after next.
We did not go on a Balloon ride at the Fiesta...but camped up in Santa Fe at Lake Cochiti...and booked a ride with Santa Fe Balloons. A wonderful experience.
Have fun!!!
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Old 11-02-2017, 01:49 PM   #11
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I went to book a site for 2018 and everything with power was SOLD OUT already but since we are Newmar owners they will be there so I think will sign up with there program...
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Old 11-04-2017, 10:50 PM   #12
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Last October they sold out all the spots with power in 9 minutes. You MUST be ready to grab when you can. Do put yourself on the waiting list as people pay and don't show. We were able to extend our reservation on both ends due to this!
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Old 11-07-2017, 08:45 PM   #13
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Military veterans (and sponsored guests) may stay at the Kirtland AFB famcamp (FHU) and ride the shuttle bus to/from the fiesta grounds. I think the bus cost $3 ea per session. It sure beat fighting the traffic jam everywhere. I never have seen the famcamp full during the balloon fiesta. After 9/11 large vehicles must use a specific entry gate.
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Old 11-11-2017, 07:51 PM   #14
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We went for the third time this year. First time was with an owners group in 2007. Again in 2011. No reservatiions. This time no reservations again.

You don't really need reservations.

The high demand days are the first few days. Thursday, Friday & Saturday. After the Sunday flight people start to leave. This year we arrived just after noon on Tuesday at the dry camping area, the very best for viewing IMO. Drove right up to the checkin area. No line. Got taken to a spot in the 3rd row. Next morning the balloons came right over our heads. Perfect! No need to go to the field.

As the week went on there were more & more camping spaces available. The balloons went right over. Some landed in the field nearby. A couple landed nearby, not 100' from our site.

Dry camping is easy, & alot less $$. Nights are usually cool so there is no need for A/C. Most people run gennys only on a 'need to' basis. There are some power areas within the dry camping area but the power comes from roaring commercial gennys.

I would not even consider staying offsite. Way too much of a hassel. Have to get up at 3AM deal with the horrendous traffic of all the hotel people trying to get to the field, get parked, walk, walk, walk then watch them go up & gone, towards the dry camping area where we get up at 6:45, put the coffee on, step outside & the balloons are overhead by 7:15 or so.
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