There really isn’t too much that is healthy at the Balloon Fiesta. It has long been a pet peeve of mine because first, you have to get up at 4 am to get there. It is an international event, so people from all over the world come and there are long lines and heavy traffic. Not to mention the balloons usually go up around dawn. We usually take advantage of the park and ride service which is pretty fast but there are still lines. Another thing that bothers me is that they have a Spam truck, fried everything, and basically no healthy food options. I actually boycotted going the last couple of years despite the fact that it is a family tradition for my in-laws. My brother-in-law’s birthday is on the 9th so this is how we usually celebrate it.
This year I was determined to find a way to enjoy the festival in a healthier way. And to my delight, I discovered that the Northern Diversion Channel (also known as Paseo del Nordeste Trail), which is a bike trail beginning at the University of New Mexico, ends at the Balloon Park. I literally begged and bribed my husband to bike to the festival. He doesn’t like to bike so much but I assured him that the path was flat and that it would be a piece of cake 🙂
How beautiful is that?!
The trail passes over our freeway system and basically goes under I-40 which is a little creepy.
I packed us a gourmet snack pack which included Lobster paté. It was absolutely disgusting but we saved it and gave it to the cat.
This is actually the back end of the balloon fiesta park building. We were super close.
We waited for a really long time and it didn’t appear that the balloons were going to go up. If the weather isn’t just right, they often cancel the event. It didn’t seem that the weather was all that bad so we kept hanging out in the hopes that they would go. Our family was inside so we were texting for updates.
We actually gave up and started back but got a text around 8:30 that they really were going to go up after all so we turned around. I didn’t get a picture but there were a ton of people of the path. Most of them left when they thought the assent was going to be canceled.
Unfortunately, a storm was coming in so balloons had to land fairly quickly.
Notice the rain in the picture below! We decided we better head out because it was coming our way.
A rest area. It’s only sprinkling so far.
We are starting to get worried. Thunder is sounding and we are pretty drenched. It has definitely caused us to pick up the pace.
Home stretch! We made it. We are a little cold but it was an awesome adventure. The entire trip was about 16 miles. The weather made us a little nervous but it all worked out. New Mexico weather can notoriously change quickly. My husband made a few comments like “why is it uphill both ways?” and such. Lol but he was a trooper going on such a long ride. This is definitely my preferred version of the Balloon Fiesta.
Click here for an interactive map of the City of Albuquerque Bike Trails