Just south of Flagstaff lies a magical Arizona town of red sandstone formations that glow in the sunlight. Sedona is a two-hour drive from the south rim of the Grand Canyon and boasts abundant natural wonders of its own. The town’s red rocks were formed by sand and mineral deposits from the ebbs and flows of the sea millions of years ago. They were subsequently chiseled into rocky towers and deep canyons by wind and rain erosion. The result is a beautiful playground for nature lovers, providing ample opportunities for outdoor adventure.
Sedona has offerings for travelers seeking all types of adventure. Hikers head to Sedona for a collection of hiking trails known as the Secret Seven. Some visitors come for a chance to roam the rocks in off-road vehicles. For other travelers, the natural beauty provides a scenic background for a leisurely spa trip, as Sedona is a hot destination for meditation and relaxation seekers. Many people want to experience a little bit of it all. Regardless of your vacation goals, one of the most exhilarating ways to see the landscapes of Sedona is by hot air balloon.
Believe it or not, hot air balloons are the safest form of air travel. And while a balloon trip might be an adventure, it is a slow-paced one. Hot air balloon rides are directed by the wind, so operators are trained to carefully study the weather to best use it to their advantage. The only movement they control directly is guiding the balloon up or down. Balloons cruise at low altitudes of around 2000-3000 ft and can only move forward as quickly as the wind takes them. The ride is smooth, so turbulence and motion sickness are not issues. As a matter of fact, many passengers describe feeling like they are not moving at all. Having a bird’s eye view of the world below without a window between you and the outdoors is a thrill that cannot be replicated. The slow pace allows for passengers to really take in the sights of the majestic red rocks.
There are several companies offering hot air balloon rides in Sedona, and most offer early morning tours lasting three-four hours (including pre- and post-flight activities). Participants will get to watch the large balloons fill with air and will be given some safety information before their flight, and often enjoy a post-flight meal or drinks once they return to the ground. Flight time is typically about an hour. Most companies offer tours year-round, and weather is not usually much of a deterrent to a comfortable ride. Sedona has hot summers and is mild to moderately cold in the winter, with low annual rainfall.
Seeing Sedona by hot air balloon is one of those rare experiences that combines adventure and leisure. Passengers enjoy the rush of being suspended thousands of feet in the air, the peace that comes with cruising slowly above the world, and the awe of being face-to-face with some of Mother Nature’s most impressive artwork.