Balloons Over New Mexico

October 5 - 9, 2014


In response to customer demand for slightly shorter and more budget-conscious trips, Canyon Calling presents Balloons Over New Mexico!  The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta each October is an international event that draws thousands from all corners of the globe.  Mass ascensions of hundreds of colorful balloons are truly once-in-a-lifetime sights to behold.  Our trip also incorporates the nighttime Balloon Glow where we experience the wonder of being inside a Christmas tree.  Our trip is also a juxtaposition of ancient and modern with exploration of nearby petroglyphs and still-occupied thousand-year old pueblos.  It is fascinating to learn from Native Americans living in the homes of their distant ancestors.  We’ll also hike among ancient homes at Bandolier National Monument.  Toss in exploration of downtown Taos and Santa Fe and soaking in hot pools under the stars and you have quite a trip in store!  Oh wait – there’s more!  New Mexico vistas were Georgia O’Keefe’s favorite subject and we’ll stay on her ranch, hike on her mesas and visit her museum.   We squeeze plenty into our five days in New Mexico.  This is an autumn favorite.

Airfares are NOT INCLUDED in Canyon Calling trips. It is your responsibility to get yourself to the assembly point of a trip and home afterwards. There are many reasons for this policy including customers wanting to use their air miles, people wanting to go early or stay on after the trip, some wanting to drive etc. Jane at Jane’s Travel in Phoenix has helped our customers with booking their flights for the last 17 years. You can phone her at (480) 755-1388 or send an email to  Internal flights are included in trip prices when they fall inside a tour like on our Costa Rican, Peruvian Andes, Australian and Hawaiian Islands trips.

We will collect you at 1pm at Albuquerque Airport.  After checking into our hotel we’ll then head into Old Town where you’ll have a couple of hours to explore the wonderful markets – or one of the interesting museums if that is of more interest.  Meet-up at 5pm and drive to the Balloon Festival in time to enjoy the Balloon Glow.  The sight of balloons lit from within at night is breathtaking.  They look like giant holiday ornaments and it’s wonderful to wander amongst them.  We’ll eat festival food for dinner.

Today is special!  After breakfast, drive north to Santa Fe and visit the Georgia O’Keefe Museum.  After lunch in Santa Fe we’ll drive to Abiquiu – specifically her home at Ghost Ranch, purchased by O’Keefe in 1945.  Her ability to capture the essence of the natural beauty of northern New Mexico desert, its vast skies, richly colored landscape configurations and unusual architectural forms, has identified the area as “O’Keeffe Country,”  A wonderful two-hour hike takes us up through red rocks and white gypsum onto Kitchen Mesa. The red and yellow cliffs of this mesa were favorite subjects for O’Keefe’s paintings.  Once on top, the views are spectacular and you can see why this ranch was so beloved by her. She made New Mexico her permanent home in 1949 and worked in oil until the mid–1970s.  O’Keefe worked in pencil and watercolor until 1982 and produced objects in clay from the mid-1970s until two years before her death in 1986, at the age of 98.  Check into our ranch accommodation and relax amongst the red canyons, majestic mesas and amazing skies.  Dinner this evening is in the dining hall.

It’s fun to get up early in the cool air and enjoy some quiet time before breakfast watching the desert come alive.  We’ll drive to the beautiful adobe mountain town of Taos, population 5000 and visit the Taos Pueblo, a 1000 year-old village and the First Living World Heritage Site.  Our local guide will lead us through the village explaining construction methods, traditions and ceremonies as well as the modern life of the 2800 people in her tribe.  After lunch downtown there’s time for exploring the shops and galleries.  Later we’ll drive the high scenic road to Taos through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.  We’ll visit Chimayo Sanctuary where a miracle occurred in 1810 and the church has become known as the “Lourdes of America.”  Check into our downtown hotel and enjoy Southwest cuisine at dinner.  After dinner we’ll go to a luxurious local hot spring and soak under the stars. This spa has a Japanese theme and is one of the quintessential experiences when visiting Santa Fe.

After breakfast you have the whole morning to shop and explore unique downtown Santa Fe.  There are shops and galleries and museums that could keep you busy for a week!   Santa Fe also offers exciting architectural and cultural subjects for amateur photographers.  After lunch we’ll drive north and west to Bandelier National Monument and hike Frijoles Canyon.  Explore ancestral pueblo homes, kivas, rock paintings and petroglyphs.  Some of the dwellings were rock structures built on the canyon floor; others were "cavates" produced by voids in the canyon wall and carved out further by humans.  A climb up several ladders brings us to Alcove House, a shelter cave containing a small, reconstructed kiva.  Return to Albuquerque, check into our hotel for a two-night stay.  Dinner nearby.

We’ll arrive at the Balloon Festival at 6.30am and eat breakfast as the balloons are being inflated.  This is a wonderful morning known as the Special Shapes Rodeo.  Hundreds of balloons shaped from Darth Vader to Mickey Mouse join in a choreographed mass ascension, ensuring a once-in-a-lifetime experience and, of course, spectacular photos.  For an extra $400 you can even arrange in advance to be onboard one of these amazing balloons!  It’s a short drive to Petroglyph National Monument on the outskirts of Albuquerque.  It’s an easy walk around the volcanic rocks, one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America.  The designs and symbols were carved into the rocks by Indians and Spanish settlers 400 to 700 years ago.  After a picnic lunch we’ll drive an hour west and visit Acoma Pueblo, also known as Sky City, chosen in part because of its defensive position against raiders.  It is regarded as one the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States.  We’ll tour the village with a local who’ll explain how Acoma people dry-farm in the valley below and use irrigation canals continuing the traditions of their ancestors.  Spanish settlers had the mission church of San Esteban del Rey built at the pueblo from 1629 to 1641.  Both the mission and the pueblo are National Historical Landmarks.  Returning to Albuquerque, our farewell dinner will be at a favorite local restaurant serving regional fare. It’s great to relax and reflect on all our experiences of the past week and to enjoy the company of our travel companions for one last evening. 

Hotel shuttle will transport you to the airport.



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