Balloon Fiesta Kayak Tour

TBD (To Be Determined)
Albuquerque, NM
See map: Google Maps
Location and directions will be sent out via email to those who have RSVP'd for this event.
Start Time: 
Monday, October 3, 2016 - 6:00am - 11:00am

Come and enjoy the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
from the best seat in the house! 

Guided Balloon Fiesta Kayak Tours

Offered Daily

October 1 - 9, 2016


Kayaking in Albuquerque's Rio Grande Bosque is one of the best-kept secrets in New Mexico.  The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta - not so much of a secret anymore.  Come join us for a leisure float down the Rio Grande Bosque, often among 100's of balloons, with no obstructed views, no traffic jams and no crowds for a unique experience that you'll never forget!

"I high-fived one of the pilots! It was awesome!!!" - Jane Bales; Rio Rancho, NM

“The Balloon Fiesta Kayak Tour was undoubtedly the most surreal kayaking experience I've ever had! All these massive orbs of bright colors descending around us and blasting the early morning river silence with their roaring burners. Unbelievable!”  Rem Smith (57), Albuquerque, NM

"With very little kayaking experience, I nervously but eagerly joined Kelly Gossett and a group of kaykers on an early morning excursion down the Rio Grande during the balloon fiesta. It was an amazing experience and with Kelly's patience, clear direction, and encouragement I had a brilliant outdoor adventure. I met some really great people along on the trip and I look forward to repeating the adventure this fall. Thank you Kelly for such a memorable experience." Genieve Sanchez; Albuquerque, NM

"I am amazed at the dedication that Kelly and his crew have for taking care of safety for all participants. It is certainly an amazing group of professionals and I recommend their tutorial experience [Intro to Kayak class]. Fun and respectful group of people... an interesting combination to find these days. Avoiding the crowds and still being able to enjoy the wonderful balloon sites makes this the perfect place to be!" Sergio Albonic

A note about weather:

October is a great time for kayaking in the Rio Grande Bosque.  Fall is in full swing and there's no better place to view the changing colors of the Cottonwood trees than from the Rio Grande itself.  The days are often clear and sunny, but there are some exceptions.  While the winds usually blow gently from the South, sending the balloons upriver, it's possible that the winds may blow from the North or West, sending the balloons well away from the Rio Grande. For safety of the pilots, the balloons may not fly in windy conditions, conditions that would have minimal impact on paddlers.

Historically, about 60% of our trips have been among the balloons, and approximately 50% have experienced a "Splash n' Dash" close enough for us to carry on a conversation with the pilots. However, some factors are beyond our control. For example, Balloons typically do not fly if the wind is greater than 10mph. This has little or no effect on our kayaks, sheltered by the banks of the Bosque. Other factors may include wind that push the balloons East, West or South of the river. This is unusual, due to the "Albuquerque Box", but these events still occur. On most days, the balloons soar overhead and often Splash 'n' Dash within a few feet of our kayaks. However, on every day, you're guaranteed views of the changing Fall colors in the Rio Grande Bosque against scenic views of the Sandia Mountains, migrating water fowl and other wildlife, up close and personal.

Our guided tour will take place regardless of whether the balloons fly.  In the event of lightening in the immediate area, lasting longer than 1 hour from our anticipated departure, we will gladly refund any payments, or apply them to your next adventure with New Mexico Kayak Instruction. 

Daily Itinerary:

6:00amMeet at predeterminded meeting location. Guests leave vehicles at predetermined meeting location to save time at the end of the tour.  
Overivew of trip, logistics, timeframe, weather considerations.  Load into NMKI passenger van and depart for river access point 
Reach river access point. Listening to reports from AIBF Dawn Patrol. Begin assigning boats and gear.
Balloons typicaly launch between 7am and 8am.
7:10amOrientation to Paddling, River Reading 101, Safety briefing, conducted in-person by ACA Certified kayak instructors. 

Push-off; begin floating down the Rio Grande
Sunrise gives light to a new day

8:00amBalloons typically in full view at this point, yet still miles away.  Steam rises from the river as warmer air meets cooler water 
8:30amSun clears the Sandia Mountains. A cool morning begins to warm up and paddlers begin to remove outer jackets and heavier layers.  
8:30 - 10:30amBalloons in every direction. Some directly overhead, others in the distance.  Some splash'n'Dash within feet of our flotilla.  Snacks and refreshments served along the route.  Paddlers typically remove layers and enjoy the reminder of the morning in t-shirts.  Balloons make final flights and land as day becomes too warm to fly. 
11:00amNMKI reaches final destination river access point for conclusion of the trip. Final words and parting gifts for guest.   


$125.00 Before Tax

Full payment is due at the time of registration, and is non-refundable. Full payment is required to reserve your spot in this event. No spot is reserved untill full payment is received. 

New Mexico Kayak Instruction accepts cash, check or credit cards over the phone.


Your payment is a reservation for an event with limited capacity.  Cancellations or rescheduling request 4 or more days before the scheduled event are entitled to receive a refund, less a 30% cancellation fee.  We're sorry, but cancellations or no-shows within 3 days of the event are non-refundable, and may not be transferred to another date.  You may transfer or resell this ticket to another interested party.  They should, however, complete this RSVP form and understand the cancellation policy. 

This was a fantastic weekend! We learned so much so quickly but at the same time could take it at our own individual pace. When I got into the kayak on the first morning I was still a little uncertain about trying out whitewater but by the end of the weekend I felt very comfortable. I was definitely glad I went.  Thank you Kelly and Dave!
Whitney Waite
Kelly is a great instructor. He starts with the basics and keeps building on from there. We started in a pool of calm water on the river, as we became comfortable with that we moved closer to the moving water, then into the main current working on peel outs, ferrying and edging, then down the Rio Grande. The second day starts by talking about the first day then on to paddle placement and timing in different aspects of the river. Back on the river we fine tuned our peel outs, ferrying, edging and worked on paddle placement as we go into and through the rapids. I could not belive my improvement from day one to day two! I highly recommed this class if you want to feel comfortable with negotiating class II and III rapids. You may not end up an expert but will have the tools to become one.
Mark Nissen
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