Land of Enchantment: New Mexico Balloon Festival – October 10-16, 2024




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New Mexico and Balloon Festival! 
Discover the Land of Enchantment on an unforgettable journey this fall, centered around the awe-inspiring spectacle of the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, New Mexico’s signature event. Enjoy Native American culture, historical Taos, stunning Santa Fe, views from Sandia Peak, loads of Nuclear history, and some of the best food you can find. This winding adventure through the expansive vistas and boundless skies of the Southwest’s magnificent deserts promises an experience like no other.
At the core of this expedition lies the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, renowned as the world’s largest balloon festival and a must-have on every adventurer’s bucket list. Picture yourself surrounded by hundreds of vibrant balloons gracefully ascending against the backdrop of the Sandia Mountains in the serene morning light. The desert sunrise paints the sky with luminous hues as skilled pilots navigate their colorful vessels toward the heavens. Witness the Mass Ascension in the morning one day and the captivating After Glow event in the evening on another, where you can stroll amidst the balloons, their propane burners casting a twinkling glow against the deep blue canvas of the sky. This tour promises to etch indelible memories of the Southwest’s expansive deserts and limitless skies.


Day One – Oct. 10, 2024: Arrive in Albuquerque
Fly non-stop from PDX early in the afternoon and arrive in Albuquerque where we will head to Uptown and check into the Albuquerque Marriott. After getting settling into your comfortable surroundings, we head out for a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.

Day Two – Oct. 11, 2024: Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Old Town, Balloon Festival Twilight
After a leisurely morning, we will head out mid-morning to visit the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center where we will find dances, vendors, and exhibits about the 19 Pueblos which govern the cultural center. The museum, murals, native art and artifacts, and educational department celebrate the rich history of the native people of New Mexico. 
We will head into Old Town Albuquerque for lunch at the High Noon Restaurant and then visit the Albuquerque museum prior to our departure to the evening festivities at the Balloon Fiesta. Skydiving will begin at 5:00 pm at the festival where we will have seats and dinner at the Chasers Club from which to watch the twilight events. At the conclusion of the evening event, we will return to Uptown Albuquerque for a great nights sleep. 

Day Three – Oct. 12, 2024: Sandia Peak Cable Car and National Museum of Nuclear Science
Breakfast at the hotel will be followed by a mid-morning departure to head to the best view in Albuquerque, Sandia Peak via cable car. We may still be able to see balloons floating in the sky, but are sure to see the Land of Enchantment stretching out towards to horizon. A round trip cable car ride with a stop at the top to walk around will bring us back down to ground level for lunch and then off to tour the National Museum of Nuclear Science with a docent.

This evening, we plan on a local dinner highlighting New Mexican cuisine and then an early return to the hotel to rest up for an exciting morning!
Day Four – Oct. 13, 2024: Balloon Festival at Daybreak and Santa Fe
The early bird not only catches the worm, but it also gets piping hot breakfast while watching hundreds of balloons prepare for the morning Mass Ascension (2023 saw 500+ balloons during the Mass Ascension).  We will again be in the Chasers Club where we will have food, beverages, and seats for the morning. This is the last day of the Balloon Fiesta and we will have a chance to bid it farewell before heading back to collect bags from the hotel and depart to Santa Fe. 
Rest up during our brief luxury motor coach trip to Santa Fe for a good meal and walk around the Palace of the Governor/New Mexico History Museum. We will then check into the Drury Plaza hotel a few hundred feet away from the central plaza. The late afternoon and evening will be on your own. 

Day 5 – Oct. 14, 2024: Taos Pueblo & Kit Carson
This morning we will embark to the stunning town and Pueblo of Taos. We will begin at the Pueblo with a guided tour of the adobe structures and learn about the lives and history of this exciting destination; the Taos Pueblo is the only living Native American Community to be designated both a National Historic Landmark and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

We will then head into the town of Taos to visit the National Historic Landmark home of Kit Carson, now a museum dedicated to educating people about New Mexico history and life during the time period of Kit Carson. There will be free time in the Taos city center prior to returning to Santa Fe for a free evening to explore the downtown plaza area.  

Day 6 – Oct. 15, 2024: Los Alamos, The Bradbury Science Museum, and Puye Cliff Dwellings
Interest is increasing in Los Alamos thanks to Hollywood; after breakfast at the hotel, we will see the famous city for ourselves where we will explore the Visitors Center and the Bradbury Science Museum. 
Lunch in town will be followed by a trip to see another National Historic Landmark, the ancient Puye Cliff Dwellings. We will tour the two levels of the ancestral home of the Santa Clara Pueblo which was once home to 1500 people who lived, farmed, and hunted game from the 900s to 1580 AD. 
Back to Santa Fe, we will have dinner as a group and then return to the hotel. The evening is free for those wishing to explore the center of Santa Fe further. 

Day 7 – Oct. 16, 2024: Georgia O’Keeffe, Madrid, and Journey Home
Today we return home, but not before a leisurely breakfast and checkout from the hotel at which time we will visit the Georgia O’Keeffe museum in downtown Santa Fe. We will then depart, stopping between Santa Fe and Albuquerque to explore Madrid, NM. Madrid, both similar and different to its movie portrayal in Wild Hogs, is a quaint artists community with plenty of galleries and shops to explore in between sampling local cuisine.

Back in Albuquerque, we will board our non-stop evening flight to Portland and say goodbye to the Land of Enchantment for now. 

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