In the 1700s, a hot air balloon was a strange and potentially worrisome sight, especially because pilots often landed in unsuspecting civilians’ backyards. To build goodwill with anyone they scared, balloon pilots carried a bottle of champagne on every flight. This tradition of the convivial champagne toast still lives on at Adventure Balloon Sports, where, after each landing, the company’s FAA-certified pilots pour a celebratory glass of bubbly for each passenger.
But before the toast, the adventure begins as flights soar skyward, showcasing Colorado’s rugged terrain and the majestic sprawl of the Rocky Mountains. No two flights are the same—after departing, pilots can only fully control the balloon’s vertical motion, meaning balloons often safely land in neighboring towns, rather than in the local hot air balloon parking lot.
The guides of Adventures Out West?currently celebrating its 40th year of tours?have created scenic jaunts through Colorado and Arizona that deposit participants directly into the most beautiful parts of the local geography. Whether taking a segway tour or a jeep tour with knowledgeable guides, soaring over snowcapped mountains from the basket of a hot-air balloon or ziplining over lush forested cliffs, patrons get a chance to interact firsthand with all of nature's local sights, sounds, and whoopee-cushion gags.
Mountain-bikers cruise down unpaved roads past llama ranches. All these Colorado adventures are accessible even to first-timers and youngsters thanks to Blazing Adventures. The company was spawned on the whitewater in 1973, and today, its guides lead outdoor activities suited for all ages and adrenaline-tolerance levels.
On the more relaxing end of the spectrum, there's the Backcountry Sunset Dinner. As the colors of the setting sun paint the mountains, groups gather around a campfire for live music, s'mores, and a dinner fresh off the grill. The dinner can easily cap a day of adventure, spending it winding through high mountain passes in a fleet of Jeeps. At the other end of the spectrum is the company's half-day "Slaughterhouse Raft" whitewater excursion, which tests experienced rafters with a Class IV course along the Roaring Fork River, dotted with boulder gardens and a six-foot waterfall drop. Whatever the adventure, all of the guides keep things safe with their numerous credentials, including certifications in first aid, CPR, and stealing fire from the heavens.