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Photos from the Reno Balloon Races

Updated on July 2, 2013

Great Reno Balloon Race

For years, I've wanted to attend the Great Reno Balloon Race, an annual event held every September in Reno, Nevada that features hundreds of hot air balloons. But I never had the time or money to get there. Now, however, I'm living just two hours from Reno, and this year I finally decided to get up early (3:30 am!) to make it to the event before the mass ascension. It was well worth the few hours of lost sleep. These are photos I shot at the event.

(All photos by Lisa Howard)

About the Great Reno Air Race

Held every year in September

The Great Reno Air Race is the world's largest free hot-air ballooning event. It's been a tradition in Reno, Nevada, for the past 31 years. The three-day event is held every year on the weekend after Labor Day and is now attended by about 150,000 people annually.

The festival includes over 100 balloons from around the world, including many with specialty shapes. This year, some of the specialty balloons included Darth Vader, a soccer ball, a stagecoach, and a shark. (See below for images.)

If you're ever in Reno the weekend after Labor Day, you don't want to miss it!

The First Balloon to Take Off - The first balloon carried the American flag

Before the other balloons got ready to fly, this balloon was launched carrying the American flag. A student from a local school sang the national anthem.

Getting Ready to Fly - You've got to blow them up before you can take them up

Click thumbnail to view full-size
If you stand near the opening of the balloon while they're blowing it up, you can look inside. This shot is the inside of a balloon showing the reflection of people on the other side of the balloon.It's fun to watch the balloons being blown up.Once the balloons are blown up, the air needs to be heated.
If you stand near the opening of the balloon while they're blowing it up, you can look inside. This shot is the inside of a balloon showing the reflection of people on the other side of the balloon.
If you stand near the opening of the balloon while they're blowing it up, you can look inside. This shot is the inside of a balloon showing the reflection of people on the other side of the balloon.
It's fun to watch the balloons being blown up.
It's fun to watch the balloons being blown up.
Once the balloons are blown up, the air needs to be heated.
Once the balloons are blown up, the air needs to be heated.

A Sky Filled with Balloons - After mass ascension, the sky is filled with balloons

Unusual Hot Air Balloons at the Race - These balloons had their own unique personality

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This shark was one of the fun unusual shapes at the race.The earth balloon was shaped like many of the other balloons, but was unusual for its design.The Darth Vader balloon came all the way from Europe to participate in the event.The Wells Fargo stagecoach was another one of the great shapes.Seeing a giant flying soccer ball in the sky was quite a sight.
This shark was one of the fun unusual shapes at the race.
This shark was one of the fun unusual shapes at the race.
The earth balloon was shaped like many of the other balloons, but was unusual for its design.
The earth balloon was shaped like many of the other balloons, but was unusual for its design.
The Darth Vader balloon came all the way from Europe to participate in the event.
The Darth Vader balloon came all the way from Europe to participate in the event.
The Wells Fargo stagecoach was another one of the great shapes.
The Wells Fargo stagecoach was another one of the great shapes.
Seeing a giant flying soccer ball in the sky was quite a sight.
Seeing a giant flying soccer ball in the sky was quite a sight.

Colorful, Fun Hot Air Balloons Reflected

reno hot air balloon photos
reno hot air balloon photos

There's a small lake at Rancho San Rafael Park that provides a fun place to take reflections of the balloons in the water.

Hot Air Balloon Reflections

reno hot air balloon photo reflection
reno hot air balloon photo reflection

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    • JenaleeMortensen profile image

      JenaleeMortensen 5 years ago

      I like your reflection photos. I've been to the Reno Hot Air Balloon Race, but I didn't think about trying to get reflection photos. They are pretty and interesting.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I like your photos very much, my favorite is a toss up between the inside of the balloon and the last one with the great reflections. Glad to hear you finally got to go ;)

    • BestRatedStuff profile image

      BestRatedStuff 5 years ago

      Lovely and exciting. Would love to go up in one.

    • Lenskeeper profile image

      Lenskeeper 5 years ago

      Pretty! I love to watch hot air balloons in the sky. They are all so colorful and peaceful...

    • LisaDH profile image
      Author

      LisaDH 5 years ago

      @Bill Armstrong: Thanks!

    • LisaDH profile image
      Author

      LisaDH 5 years ago

      @wrapitup4me: Thank you!

    • LisaDH profile image
      Author

      LisaDH 5 years ago

      @chas65: That must have been interesting! I wish we had a balloon festival here so I didn't have to get up so early to make it to Reno, but I had so much fun, I'm definitely planning to to again next year.

    • LisaDH profile image
      Author

      LisaDH 5 years ago

      @Brite-Ideas: I've been in a helicopter and in a hot air balloon and I loved both! But I think some people might find a helicopter a lot scarier. The noise and the feeling of taking off or turning in a helicopter is very noticeable, and you can go up a lot higher.

      When you're in a hot air balloon, you just feel like you're floating. The basket is high, so you don't have a fear of falling out, and it's so beautiful and quiet while you're ballooning (except for the short bursts when they're heating the balloon because the burners are loud!). I think you should give it a try!! :-)

    • chas65 profile image

      chas65 5 years ago

      They are beautiful. We had a yearly balloon festival in our hometown. One year one of them had a problem nd came down in our front yard. I opened the front door and all you could see was a rainbow of color.

    • wrapitup4me profile image

      wrapitup4me 5 years ago

      You take the most gorgeous photos. WOW! That's all I can say.

    • Bill Armstrong profile image

      Bill Armstrong 5 years ago from Valencia, California

      Some great pictures here, thanks for sharing

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      it looks like so much fun (to look at !) I've never had the courage to go in one - went on a helicopter ride once, and thought that was scary!