Travel Rankings & Advice

Great Reno Balloon Race free

North McCarran Boulevard | Reno, NV 89503 | Official website
Great Reno Balloon Race Photo info
reno tahoe media/RSCVA & VisitRenoTahoe.com
  • Type: Festivals
  • Time to Spend: Half Day to Full Day
Overall Rating: 5.0 (4.9)
Value: 5.0 (5.0)
Facilities: 4.0 (4.0)
Atmosphere: 5.0 (5.0)
About these ratings

Every September, 150,000 spectators grab their lawn chairs and head north of downtown Reno to Rancho San Rafael Regional Park for the annual Great Reno Balloon Race. During this three-day event, more than 100 brightly colored hot-air balloons fill the northern Nevada sky, making this the largest event of its kind in the nation. The balloon's pilots race against each other; the first balloon to make it to Truckee Meadows (several miles south of downtown) wins.

The race starts at 6:45 a.m. on opening day, and the balloons land as the sun sets on the third day. During the day, other competitions -- including kid-friendly activities -- take place at Rancho San Rafael and around the city. For the coolest photo ops, consider waking up early for the Glow Patrol (5 a.m.) and the Dawn Patrol (5:30 a.m.). During these early-morning hours, balloons that have been certified for night-flight (thanks to their on-board lights) take to the skies, glowing against the dark landscape. According to one Yelp.com user: "This is one of the best things about living in Reno … The dawn patrol and glow show are great, the mass ascension rules, and the race itself is great. Definitely a must see."

The event is free to attend, but many recent spectators recommend getting there early (before the Glow Patrol) if you want to snag free parking; otherwise, you may struggle to find a spot. For more information, check out The Great Reno Balloon Race website.

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