Life List: A Hot Air Balloon Ride in Stowe, Vermont

Disclosure: I received resort accommodations, spa treatments, some meals and balloon ride in return for this post. Thoughts are my own. 

Last month, I had the unique opportunity to check off one of my life list dreams – to ride in a hot air balloon.

The wonderful folks at the Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa in Stowe, Vermont hosted myself and friend Jamie during the Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival. I’ll be sharing highlights from the resort itself next week.

Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival

The Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival takes places once a year on the Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa grounds, hosting around 20 hot air balloons. In addition to the hot air balloons, the festival offers delicious food vendors (including one of my favorites, Ben & Jerry’s), family activities and spa treatments to its attendees. It’s a great festival for families and hot air balloon enthusiasts.

Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival

On the day we attended, the weather was absolutely perfect with low winds and sunshine in the low 80’s, which made for perfect hot air balloon flying conditions. We really lucked out.

How do you inflate a hot air balloon?

I was curious, too. I found out that it’s pretty basic – spread the balloon flat on the ground, inflate with a huge fan, then heat it up.

Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival

Inflating a Hot Air Balloon

Inflating a Hot Air Balloon

Inflating a Hot Air Balloon

Inflating a Hot Air Balloon

Inflating a Hot Air Balloon

Inflating a Hot Air Balloon

Inflating a Hot Air Balloon

What it’s like to fly in a hot air balloon.

We had the honor of having Chuck Baraw, the President of Stowe Mountain Resort & Spa, as our balloon pilot. Chuck has had decades of ballon flying experience, so we were in great hands.

Flying in the hot air balloon was so different than I imagined. Not at all scary and the ride was surprisely smooth and fluid. (I had expected it to be a bit bumpy) The views from above were absolutely stunning. We could see the green mountains of Vermont for miles.

Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival

Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival

Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival

Riding in a Hot Air Balloon

Riding in a Hot Air Balloon

Riding in a Hot Air Balloon

Riding in a Hot Air Balloon

Riding in a Hot Air Balloon

It was so quiet in the air. Very, very quiet. We could occasionally hear voices from people on the ground (we drew a lot of attention from the locals) and from the birds chirping in the trees, but other than that, it was completely silent. It was incredibly peaceful.

I shot some video while in the air to give you an idea of what the ride is like. The loud sound you hear is from the pilot releasing hot air into the balloon.

The balloon goes wherever the wind takes it. There is no way to steer the balloon, so you are at the mercy of the weather and wind direction. To land, you simply find an open spot and go down (with the help of a balloon team that follows your path). In fact, we landed in a woman’s front yard. Fortunately, she was very welcoming!

Once we landed safely, Chuck pulled out a case that included a bottle of champagne and flutes. We learned that it is tradition to drink champagne after a balloon flight. I kinda love this tradition.

Hot Air Balloon Drink Champagne

Hot Air Balloon Drink Champagne

The experience was beautiful, calming and serene. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

A big THANK YOU to the Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa for making this life list dream a reality. Stay tuned for my review on the resort next week!

Riding in a Hot Air Balloon

Disclosure: I received resort accommodations, spa treatments, some meals and balloon ride in return for this post. Thoughts are my own.