We had wanted to attend the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta for a number of years and we decided last year that this was the year. We knew we wanted to stay at the fiesta grounds to avoid traffic and we wanted to stay the entire week to ensure we had some chance of seeing all the events. If the winds and weather are not ideal then some events can be cancelled. It worked out perfectly for us and we attended every event. More on the events in the next post.
There are 3 RV Parks on the grounds, the Presidents Compound ($150 a night), VIP East ($85 a night), and VIP West ($85 a night). The Presidents Compound price includes passes for 4 people and water and electric hookups and VIP West and VIP East include passes for 2 people and are both dry camping. We didn’t really know which park would suit our needs the best but it didn’t really matter because the only park with open sites for the week was VIP West. Problem solved, VIP West it was. We checked the Calendar of Availability on-line for many months prior to the event and we noticed cancellations and openings at all the parks. You just have to keep watching.
There is also the Standard/Premium RV Parking area just south of Alameda for $30 a night which is dry camping and no passes included. There is a free shuttle to take you and pick you up from the launch field.
As it turns out, after surveying the other parks and visiting friends at the Presidents Compound one night, we discovered that VIP West was just right for us. As a side note, the Presidents Compound had issues with water and while we were there sites were having to share water hookups. Some sites were just filling their tanks instead of using the hookups.
RV Park: VIP West
Location: Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Grounds
Site: Not applicable – rally style
Services: Dry camping
Comments: A perfect place to park our rig while enjoying the balloon fiesta. The park is situated right next to the Balloon Museum which is well worth a visit. Our site was less than 100 yards from the entrance which meant we could roll out of bed early in the morning to see Dawn Patrol and not have to drive, wait in lines, fight traffic, wait for shuttles, etc. It was perfect. Plus, when the weather was just right the balloons flew right over our motor home so we could just sit outside (or on the top of the motor home) and enjoy the show.
Parking at the RV parks is rally style meaning the park attendants decide where to park you. Yes, it is basically a parking lot but we, luckily, got an ideal level location. Some rigs struggled a bit with leveling as they were parked on a bit of a slope. We saw multiple rigs with wheels off the ground.
The park attendants spaced us further apart from the neighboring rigs than we expected which was a pleasant surprise. Our rig backed up directly behind the Pilots/Crew parking lot which meant no one was behind us except cars during the events. And the Pilots/Crew entrance gate was right next to us which meant we could be inside the grounds at the launch site in less than 2 minutes.
We expected to not sleep well due to noise, activity, etc. but we were again, pleasantly surprised at how quiet it was. The gates would open at 4:30am and the pilots/crew would start piling in and park but we would not hear a thing. And they were right behind our rig. We wouldn’t get up until 5am or so and we would look out the window and the parking lot behind us was full and the road into the gate entrance was bumper to bumper but we didn’t hear a thing. What a surprise.