• Caitlin McAninch

The Great Reno Balloon Races: From Above

Updated: Feb 16, 2019



Twice I have written blog posts about the Great Reno Balloon Races, but never, ever, have I gotten views like this of the balloons… Why you may ask? Because the COOLEST thing happened this year, I took off in a balloon.

So I’ve shown off the Balloon Races here and here, both with beautiful photos. I mean, it’s beyond easy to take beautiful photos at the Balloon Races because they are so beautiful. But a few weeks ago I just had a spark that this year, I wanted to do something different.

I posted on Facebook that I really wanted to go to the races. I never expected for someone to reach out. Local PR Agency, The Abbi Agency reached out to me and said I had the credentials to go to media day. So, here I will thank my loyal followers because I don’t think this would have happened without you.


Fast forward to TODAY! I got to wake up early, head to media day and take my very first ride in a hot air balloon.

My Balloon: Meet Wasabi

I got to ride with veteran Racer, Doug in his balloon, Wasbi. Immediately I knew I liked him. He introduced me to his son Doug Jr. who would be following along in their other balloon, Booger (ha!) . They run a Hot Air Balloon tour company down in Vegas. Here’s their site and Facebook.

Little did I know I was with Balloon Race winners! Doug was the first man to win two Reno Balloon Races: in 1989 and 1990. And last year Doug Jr. took 2ndplace while Doug took 3rd. Doug told me that was one of his most proud moments in the 50 years that he’s been flying.

On top of them being winners, they’re incredibly awesome extremists. They hold the record for the highest slackline ever completed via hot air balloon, at 4,000 feet. YES, someone slacklined between two hot air balloons in the sky, that freaking high. Insane, right?! They also have worked with Mountain Dew on extreme projects and frequently partner with skydivers. Did someone say Nitro Circus? Cause that’s definitely what it seemed like.

Doug was beyond kind, I felt extremely safe in his balloon, and it truly was the most amazing experience. And really, you can’t beat these views of Reno or the other balloons.

So here’s a million photos, but don’t go anywhere, because I have more info below.


I'm just so excited!


It's almost ready


Getting in!


And off I go


My first peak over the edge! I can see my mom!




Isn't this view just insane?! Coolest way to see Reno!



Our balloon's shadow!




Our ride is coming to an end! But I do see someone I know on that hill...

(it's my mom, aunt and cousin!)



My mom found me!


Thanks, Doug!

Extra Information About the Great Reno Balloon Races

As we were waiting to be walked to our balloons – we as in all the media peeps – the former Reno Balloon Race President, Pilar, was walking around introducing herself. She said something that struck me so well. It was along the lines of the Balloon Races are so magical because anyone can enjoy them. Even through the recession, attendance never waivered. It is the biggest (and best) free event in Northern Nevada.

It’s so true, too! There are a lot of end of summer events in Reno, but not everyone can afford them. Ahem, I did spend almost $100 last weekend going to the Rib Cook Off. Money spent at the Balloon Races for the past 10+ years?? $0. Unless you count the champagne I buy for my mimosas…

But even though it’s a free event, it still brings in a significant amount for the local tourism economy. Nearly 125,000 people visit the Great Reno Balloon Races every year, with 40% of attendees not local to Reno. According to the Abbi Agency, the estimated total economic impact of non-local visitors is $6,644,560! That’s a lot of dough! And truly great for Northern Nevada.

But something else I did not realize, which is just so special and gets me excited. The Reno Balloon Races started back in 1982 with only 25 balloons. Today, over 100 balloons fly across the Reno skies through the weekend. And since it started so long ago, most attendees today who went as kids are brining their own kids! And no lie, it gets me so excited to take my littles one day.


When to See the Balloons

My goal was to get this post out ASAP to promote the rest of the Balloon Races, because truly they haven’t even started yet. The schedule is as follows:

Friday, Sept. 7, 2018

3:30 a.m. Gates Open

4:30 a.m.—11 a.m. Shopping along Balloon Boulevard

5:15 a.m. Super Glow Show, presented by United Federal Credit Union

7 a.m. Mass Ascension Launch

7 a.m.—7:30 a.m. Biggest Little Pajama Party

9:30 a.m. Pennington Foundation Tissue Paper Balloon Launch

Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018

3:30 a.m. Gates Open

4:30 a.m.—11 a.m. Shopping along Balloon Boulevard

5 a.m. Glow Show

5:30 a.m. Dawn Patrol

7 a.m. Mass Ascension Launch

7 a.m.—7:30 a.m. Biggest Little Pajama Party

&Bed Head Contest

Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018

3:30 a.m. Gates Open

4:30 a.m.—11 a.m. Shopping along Balloon Boulevard

5 a.m. Glow Show

5:30 a.m. Dawn Patrol

6 a.m.—8 a.m. Girl Scout Scavenger Hunt

7 a.m. Mass Ascension Launch

And don’t worry if you can’t make it this year, the schedule will be the exact same next year! And the year after that, and the year after that. And hopefully FOREVER, because truly, the Great Reno Balloon Races are my favorite part of the year in Reno.


And if I haven’t convinced you to go yet, let me try to entice you one more time! I’ll be there again Saturday morning for Dawn Patrol! Hope to see you there!

Want more balloon photos? Visit these blog posts:

Escape in a Balloon

2017 Great Reno Balloon Races

#Nevada #Reno #Activities

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