The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the world’s most photographed event and should be on every RVer’s bucket list. Even if you only come once, you will never experience something so magical.
This is one of those rare events where you can access the balloon take off field and stand right next to the balloons as they inflate and take off. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see more than 500 hot air balloons take off one right after each other every day.
A huge perk of staying right on the Fiesta RV grounds is how close you are to all of the action. I highly recommend taking this route so you don’t have to deal with traffic and parking fees. The prices are a bit steep, but the convenience can’t be beat!
We volunteered at the 2015 Fiesta and spent 2.5 weeks behind the scenes and want to share the RV choices with you.
Please note that online registration for the 2016 Fiesta begins Oct. 20 at 8 a.m. Mountain time, and some of the lots will sell out that same day. Do not hesitate to make a reservation, if you know this will be on your 2016 bucket list. The cancellation rates are very reasonable until July. So, if it is even an option for you, I would make reservations early. www.balloonfiesta.com/guest-guide/rv-information
Starting with the least expensive, here are your options:
Standard RV lot — $30 per night. Located on the south side of Alameda, there is a bare bones, yet most affordable option. You will be parked rally style in the order that you come in (unless you are prearranged with a rally group). There are NO electric/water/sewer hook ups, but there is access to water to fill up (free of charge) when you arrive in the park. AAA water services is available to fill your water tank during the fiesta for $25 per fill and will pump your tanks for $25 per dump.
Premium RV lot — $65 per night. Also located on the south side of Alameda, this lot will give you 30-amp electric and water hook ups. There are NO sewer hook ups and you will need to utilize the pump out service for a fee.
Both the standard and premium sites are within about a half-mile walk to the gates of the fiesta. There is a large walk/bike path that leads from the RV park to the gates and the bike valet so those are very safe and reasonable options to go back and forth to the launch grounds. There is also a free shuttle service on school buses that run from 4:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. when events are scheduled.
This is a great option for those who are not able to walk or bike that far. The traffic is horrendous and you definitely want to plan on not driving your personal vehicle over to the fiesta park.
VIP West/East — $85 per night. This is the most expensive dry camping I have ever heard of, but it does put you close to the action. These lots are on the same side of Alameda as the launch grounds so you will have a very short walk to the gates. Two entry session passes are included. (Value of $8 per session per person). Personally, I don’t think this option is worth the increased price, but you can make your own decision.
President’s Compound — $150 per night. These sites are on a bluff overlooking the launch field and have 30-amp electric and city water pressure. There is NO sewer hook up here either. This site also includes four entry passes to the launch field. Again, you can assess your budget and determine if the extra price is worth it.
There is a three-day minimum stay during event days unless you take a risk and just drive in. Walk in reservations are only taken for the standard lot and I would NOT recommend this during either weekend of the fiesta when sites are usually completely booked. Monday to Thursday nights had plenty of availability this year for walk ups.
If you come before the event, then standard nights are only $15 per night and you will avoid some of the traffic that gets crazy during event days.
Sites are 19 feet by 50 feet. Plan on unhooking your towed vehicle before you pull into your spot and plan to be very close to your neighbor especially if you have multiple slides.
Generators are allowed, but must be 2 feet off the ground. Generator hours are 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., so bring earplugs if you are a sensitive sleeper and don’t plan to be up early.
If you are interested in volunteering during the fiesta there are plenty of perks. Free food, swag and even RV spots can be earned, and I highly recommend looking into this if your schedule allows. www.balloonfiesta.com/operations/volunteering
More information can be found on this PDF by clicking here.
Take a look at this map, assess the prices and amenities and make your choice. www.balloonfiesta.com/uploads/RV%20Map%20with%20directions.pdf
Whatever you decide, just don’t miss the next Balloon Fiesta. It’s an uplifting experience!