Colorado River Hot Air Balloon Festival kicks off in Yuma

The three-day festival features a variety of colorful and unique balloons from the West and Southwest.
Published: Nov. 10, 2023 at 10:29 AM MST|Updated: Nov. 10, 2023 at 12:35 PM MST
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YUMA, Ariz. (3TV/CBS 5) -- The skies of Yuma will be filled with hot air balloons for one of southern Arizona’s favorite fall events! The Colorado River Crossing Hot Air Balloon Festival kicks off on Friday and runs through the weekend.

The three-day festival is presented by Caballeros de Yuma and features a variety of colorful and unique balloons from the West and Southwest. Crowds of people gathered at West Wetlands Park to get a close look at the balloons. Throughout the weekend, balloonists will be offering tethered balloon rides to the public for $25. Tethered rides go about 50 feet up in the air.

Frank Saldana, Caballeros de Yuma chairman, said the views of Yuma are unmatched this time of the year. “We’re known as the lettuce capital of the world in the winter time. We have a lot of farmland, we have the river, the mountains, the mesa, the community itself. You can see there is not a cloud in the sky. The view is absolutely phenomenal here,” Saldana said.

One of the favorite events is the Desert Balloon Glow, which takes place on Saturday night as burners light up the balloons. “It’s a family event. Brings the community together. It’s a very special event to attend,” said Saldana. He has even taken a ride in one of the balloons! “It’s a fantastic feeling. Very serene, very quiet. It’s one of the best rides you could have in your life. It’s really cool,” he said.

Balloon Pilot Mathew Paulin said he loves coming to Yuma for the festival. “You know, there’s a lot of things we enjoy with ballooning, one of them is just people’s reaction. It’s always fun seeing the crowd, first-time passengers, it’s always a blast. We always enjoy watching them fly,” he said.

The festival will be happening Saturday and Sunday at West Wetlands Park, with sunrise rides from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. There will also be rides during the evening on Saturday at Desert Sun Stadium in Yuma from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

For more information about the festival or for directions, click or tap here.

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