Call to book1-877-929-7245
Tour Search
#Favorites

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta by Rail

Save
4.4 stars(12 reviews)
Gallery

Join visitors from around the world at the annual International Balloon Fiesta, where hundreds of brightly colored hot air balloons are launched into the Albuquerque sky and the whole town is abuzz with excitement and festivities. You’ll also visit the incredible Arches and Mesa Verde National Parks, ride the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, and tour historic Santa Fe.

You are viewing the 2022 itinerary. Select your departure year
20222023
9 days From $2,755 per person

2022 Tour code: RM-ABFA-22

About the tour

This 9-day tour takes you through the southwest in autumn, one of the most beautiful times of year to see the splendid colors and formations of Arches and Mesa Verde National Park, and of course, to gaze in awe at the hundreds of colorful balloons contrasting Albuquerque's blue skies during the International Balloon Fiesta. Your journey begins in Chicago, San Francisco, or wherever along the California Zephyr route is most convenient for you. After a night aboard the train to Grand Junction, you'll continue by motorcoach to the breathtaking red rock landscapes of Moab, Utah. The geography here is like nothing else in the country. Visit Arches National Park, featuring more than 2,000 natural stone arches. Continue to Mesa Verde National Park, where you'll explore the more than 600 ancient cliff dwellings dating back to A.D. 600. Next, aboard the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, you'll journey along the Animas River and through the stunning Rocky Mountains, bursting with fall colors this time of year. In Santa Fe, you'll learn about the Spanish colonists that formed the city and saw the oldest building in the United States. Finally, you'll head to Albuquerque where you'll join visitors and locals alike to watch as hundreds of hot air balloons are launched into the sky, floating into the sunrise in the perfect photo moment. Tour Albuquerque and enjoy ongoing festivities around the city before gathering again to watch the balloons at sunset, complete with a fireworks show. A spectacular southwest adventure you'll remember for years to come!

Highlights

Activity level Natural Explorer

View details

You don’t mind spending the day on your feet. You enjoy sightseeing that includes walking, standing or stair climbing. You’re okay with longer days that are more active, such as multiple sightseeing stops, longer motorcoach journeys and getting on and off ships and trains.

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 – Depart Chicago aboard the California Zephyr

Arrive at Chicago Union Station and board the California Zephyr. Settle into your onboard accommodations and prepare for your overnight rail journey. Travelers may elect to travel from San Francisco or points in-between and meet your tour manager in Grand Junction. Overnight train.

Day 2 – Grand Junction

Spend your time aboard the train admiring the passing scenery en route to Grand Junction, situated on the Western Slope of Colorado. Check into your hotel with the evening free to rest and enjoy dinner at your leisure tonight. Overnight Grand Junction, CO.

Day 3 - Arches National Park

After breakfast on your own, we depart Grand Junction and follow the Colorado River to Moab, Utah. Our morning stop will be at Arches National Park. On our tour you will discover a landscape of contrasting colors, landforms and textures unlike any other in the world. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins, and giant balanced rocks. This Utah wonderland will amaze you with its unusual red rock formations.

Next, we head into downtown Moab for lunch on your own and free time to explore. After, we will climb to the top of the Mesa Verde where we will be spending the night. Enjoy dinner tonight while you look out over the Four Corners area. Overnight Mesa Verde National Park, CO.

Includes
  • Dinner
Day 4 – Mesa Verde National Park

After breakfast this morning, we tour Mesa Verde National Park and see some of the cliff dwellings and surface ruins of the ancient Anasazi people. Mesa Verde offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from A.D. 600 to 1300. Today the park protects nearly 5,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. These sites are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States. We will begin our tour at the Far View Museum for a look at the artifacts that have been found at this site. We will continue what is called the "ruins" road to view some of the other sites in the park. After lunch on your own at the Far View cafeteria, we head east to Durango, Colorado where we spend the next two nights located on Main Street and an easy walk to all the shops and galleries in town. Your evening is free to enjoy downtown, Durango. Overnight Durango, CO.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 5 – Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

This morning it is all aboard the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. The scenery is on a grand scale this morning as we follow the Animas River into the Rocky Mountains. There are no roads that follow these rails, so we are in true wilderness most of the way to the mining town of Silverton. Be sure to bring your camera to capture this breathtaking scenery. The train arrives in Silverton where you will have time for lunch and to shop and browse the town before we board our motorcoach and head north up the Million Dollar Highway and through Red Mountain Pass. This is the heart of fall color in Colorado. We return to Durango where the remainder of the evening will be at leisure. Overnight Durango, CO.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 6 – En Route to Santa Fe

We depart Colorado this morning and turn south into the state of New Mexico. The scenery of northern New Mexico is lovely as we head through quaint Spanish towns that were founded in the 1700's and earlier. Our first stop will be at the Rancho de Chimayo Restaurant for lunch. The adobe walls of this 18th-century hacienda are thick and cool, and the ambiance of this restaurant will take you back to the days of the Spanish settlers in northern New Mexico. After lunch, we will stop at Ortega's Weaving Shop to see the hand-woven textiles that this area is famous for. We will also stop at the Santuario de Chimayo, an 18th-century church that is known for its "curative soil." Many people take a bit of this healing dirt home for whatever "ails" them. Our final stop will be in New Mexico's capital city of Santa Fe. We will spend the night just steps away from the end of the Old Santa Fe Trail and within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and galleries. Overnight Santa Fe, NM.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch
Day 7 – Santa Fe Sightseeing / Albuquerque

This morning we enjoy an informative historical walking tour of Santa Fe. On our walk, we will hear about the history of the Spanish colonists that helped found this town in 1610 and see the Palace of the Governors, the oldest public building in the United States. Visit the famed Loretto Chapel, stop at San Miguel, the oldest church, and more. You are free after our walk to enjoy the museums and galleries around the Plaza and have lunch in one of Santa Fe's local restaurants.

After lunch, we will head to Albuquerque. Upon arrival at our hotel, there is time to rest and freshen up before we enjoy an early dinner. You will want to get a good night's rest tonight. Tomorrow we are up with the birds to enjoy the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Overnight Albuquerque, NM.

Includes
  • Dinner
Day 8 – Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Set your alarm for 0'Dark Thirty this morning. We are off to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. On arrival at the Balloon Field, we will begin looking into the morning sky to see if the Dawn Patrol is up in the air. These 5-6 hot air balloons ascend into the early dawn sky to check the weather conditions. As they light up in the dark, they look like twinkling rainbow lights above your head. We will have time once we are on the field to enjoy the many arts and crafts booths before the ceremonies begin. Breakfast is included on the field this morning in the exclusive Chaser's Club lounge area. You can eat breakfast and watch the Balloons at the same time, but remember, this is a participatory event. You do not want just to stand on the sidelines and look. You can walk onto the field, talk to the balloonists, take pictures of the balloons as they are filled with cold air, then propane and then as they slowly inflate until the referees in the striped shirts (zebras we call them) tell each balloonist that they can lift off. There could be as many as 600 balloons in the air this morning! It is an event of a lifetime. 

After the balloons leave the field, we depart for a tour of Albuquerque. We stop at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center Museum for a tour and the ceremonial dances that are performed during the Fiesta time. Then, it is off to Old Town for festivities and lunch on your own. We return to our hotel to rest before returning to the Balloon Fiesta for the Night Glow, when the balloons stay on the ground and inflate and illuminate on the field. Dinner is on your own at one of the food booths. We return to our hotel after the fireworks show. Overnight Albuquerque, NM.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 9 – Tour Conclusion

This morning is at leisure to pack and get ready for your flight or train home. We also reserve this day as a reserve Balloon day if needed, so be sure to plan for flights or transportation home after 11:00 am. A group transfer to Albuquerque Amtrak Station or Albuquerque Airport will accommodate trains and planes departing after 11:00 a.m.

Includes
  • Breakfast

Additional information

Departure times

Departure times vary based on selected rail vacation. This information will be provided in your final documents. For more information please speak with your rail specialist.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular vacation with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Marriott Albuquerque

Marriott Albuquerque

View hotel

Strater Hotel, Durango

Strater Hotel, Durango

View hotel

DoubleTree by Hilton Grand Junction

DoubleTree by Hilton Grand Junction

View hotel

Far View Lodge, Mesa Verde National Park

Far View Lodge, Mesa Verde National Park

View hotel

Inn & Spa at Loretto, Santa Fe

Inn & Spa at Loretto, Santa Fe

View hotel

Enhance your holiday

Upgrades

Elevate Your Adventure
Extend your stay
Rail Your Way

Reviews

4.4 stars4.4 / 5 · 12 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (5)
  2. 4 stars
    (7)
  3. 3 stars
    (0)
  4. 2 stars
    (0)
  5. 1 star
    (0)

Eunice D., Galesburg, IL

5 stars

Submitted 25 Dec 2018

I enjoyed the trip very much. We had great support from Glen and Ed because of motion sickness. Many thanks to them.

Collected by Vacations By Rail

Mary C., Galesburg, IL

5 stars

Submitted 08 Oct 2018

The trip was a dream come true.

Collected by Vacations By Rail

Peggy B., Shoreview, MN

4 stars

Submitted 08 Aug 2018

Outstanding! Great tour guides and itinerary.

Collected by Vacations By Rail

Sandi W., Libertyville, IL

4 stars

Submitted 17 Feb 2018

Great experience. Well orchestrated.

Collected by Vacations By Rail

Hal D., Galesburg, IL

5 stars

Submitted 07 Feb 2018

I think the tour was very positive.

Collected by Vacations By Rail

Sharon K., Tellcity, IN

4 stars

Submitted 18 Jan 2018

Excellent service. Excellent tour!! Sally was exceptional and Time was an excellent driver.

Collected by Vacations By Rail

Show all 12 reviews
Global Rail Adventures Brochure

Global Rail Adventures Brochure

The definitive guide to our 2021/22 Global Rail Adventures

Download brochure
Related inspiration from our journey blog