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Hot Air Balloon Ride in beautiful napa valley.

Hot Air Balloon Rides Above Napa: Everything You Need to Know

By Published On: March 20th, 2022

The Inside Scoop on Hot Air Balloon Tours in Napa

Soaring over beautiful wine country in a hot air balloon will tap into your adventurous spirit and imagination. One of the oldest hot air balloon companies in wine country, Napa Valley Aloft has liftoff points throughout the valley, expert captains, intimate baskets and even a post-balloon brunch. We recently chatted up owner Jared Kimball, who gave us his insights into how a balloon ride can change your perspective on Napa.  

How Much is a Hot air balloon ride?

Jared Kimball owner of Napa Valley Aloft: Depending on what you are looking for we provide a few options. Our Adventure Aloft experience is a shared experience, but every passenger has their own ledge space with a clear view of the beautiful scenery. Passengers looking for a private experience can be arranged for special occasions for 2 ppl up to 12  passengers per basket. 

Rates may vary depending on the interested flight experience, we currently have two different options to choose from:

Adventure aloft hot air balloon ride” at a rate of $300 per adult and $200 child ages (6-12)

Exclusive Flight Private flights have a different cost depending on the interested guest. Enjoy an intimate journey above the treetops. Our private hot air balloon ride is perfect for anniversaries, special occasions, marriage proposals, or just as a special memory for you and your guest.

Hot Air Balloon Above Napa lake.
Hot Air Balloon Ride. Photo Courtesy: Napa Valley Aloft

How many people can ride in a hot air balloon?

Jared Kimball: We under load At Napa Valley Aloft with 8-12 passenger hot air balloon baskets.

Do you only fly over Napa Valley?

Jared Kimball: Yes, Napa Valley Aloft has exclusive permits to fly in Northeast Napa County when fog restricts flight in the southern area of Napa, ensuring that every flight experience is over the beauty of Napa Valley

2 Hot Air Balloons launching in napa.
Hot Air Balloon Ride. Photo Courtesy: Napa Valley Aloft

What do you wear on a hot air balloon?

Jared Kimball: Wear casual clothing, preferably in layers so that you can adjust to the warming temperatures as the morning progresses. Ladies are most comfortable in pants, because of the need to climb in and out of the basket. Flat-heeled, closed-toe shoes are recommended. Some people like to wear a light hat or a ball cap. Sunglasses or binoculars are optional, but cameras are a must so that you can take amazing hot air balloon photos.

●  Closed-toe Shoes

●  Layered Clothing

●  Pants or Jeans

●  Hat (recommended)

●  Sunglasses (recommended)

●  Small Camera

How safe are your hot air balloon rides?

Jared Kimball: Napa Valley Aloft is fully committed to the safety of our passengers and employees. Our pilots are all FAA certified and have over 100 years and 20K hours of combined experience. Our equipment is inspected regularly at FAA designated repair stations.

We have a Professional Rides Operation(PRO) credit reflecting our impeccable piloting and decision making. All PRO Operators are fully licensed and insured. We belong to several voluntary organizations which set standards for ballooning, including the Balloon Federation of America and the Professional Balloon Pilots Association of Napa County.

How long does a hot air balloon ride last?

Jared Kimball: Flights typically last about one hour but may last from 45 minutes to one hour and 45 minutes. Pilots must take into account the wind speed, direction, and the availability of landing sites. Each flight is unique.

Two Hot Air Balloon Ride flies above Napa Valley.
Hot Air Balloon Ride. Photo Courtesy: Napa Valley Aloft

Do pilots fly hot air balloons?

Jared Kimball: Our FAA certified hot air balloon pilots are among the most experienced in the world with extensive knowledge of ballooning over Napa Valley. Their knowledge and passion for hot air ballooning makes them the perfect captain to take your balloon adventure to great heights. All PRO Operator’s safety records reflect impeccable piloting & decision making.All PRO Operators are fully licensed & insured; all PRO Operator pilots are FAA certified.

How High does a hot air balloon fly?

Jared Kimball: The altitude will vary during the flight and depending on the wind conditions that day, average altitudes in our area are between 1,000 and 3,000 feet above the valley floor. Some of the flights may be at treetop level. The pilots are skilled at providing you a wonderful experience.

Is a hot air balloon ride romantic?

Jared Kimball: Absolutely, we can accommodate romantic occasions for our guests to Enjoy an intimate journey above the treetops. Our private hot air balloon ride is perfect for anniversaries, special occasions, marriage proposals, or just as a special memory for you and your guest.

Hot Air Balloons float Above Napa Valley.
Hot Air Balloon Ride. Photo Courtesy: Napa Valley Aloft

Is a Hot Air Balloon ride worth it?

Jared Kimball: The resounding feedback back is yes it is worth it. Ballooning is typically viewed as a “bucket list” activity. If you are only going to experience it once, Napa Valley is the premier location in the United States if not the world, because of the beautiful surrounding landscape and the reputation of the industry.

Hot Air Balloon floats above trees and lake.
Hot Air Balloon Ride. Photo Courtesy: Napa Valley Aloft

What time do hot air balloons take off?

Jared Kimball: Napa hot air balloon rides (and pretty much all of Northern California) are always an early morning sport. We launch just after dawn when the winds are at their calmest and the temperatures are the coolest. We hope that the lovely light of the early morning and the special sounds that can only be heard before the rest of the world is awake make it worth it to our passengers to join us on this early morning adventure.

Five Hot Air Balloons launching in morning in Napa Valley.
Hot Air Balloon Ride. Photo Courtesy: Napa Valley Aloft

Do passengers get cold in hot air balloon rides?

Jared Kimball: We meet our passengers pre-dawn and it can get cold. Average temperatures are in the low 50’s (F) in the summer and low 40’s (F) in the Winter. However temperatures will increase throughout the experience even in the balloon at higher elevation.

Hot Air Balloon Ride Above Napa Valley Vineyard.
Hot Air Balloon Ride. Photo Courtesy: Napa Valley Aloft

Is it loud in a hot air balloon?

Jared Kimball: In fact it is loud at times, our pilots use burner flame for lift that will create a noise periodically during the flight. Otherwise the flight is very tranquil and quiet. 

Why are hot air balloon rides expensive?

Jared Kimball: The price reflects all the costs it takes to safely operate a balloon business in the Napa Valley. From Insurances, fuel, labor, rent, and permits to name a few. Napa Valley is an expensive place to do business just like it is to visit. However, If you look at hot air balloon prices around the world, Napa Valley Aloft is very reasonable.

How do hot air balloons take off?

Jared Kimball: The hot air balloon envelope is hooked to the basket and then spread on the ground. A gasoline powered fan fills the envelope with cold air with the balloon stretched out on its side. Once the envelope is packed with air from the fan, the pilot lights a propane burner and heats up the air inside the balloon. With a few short squeezes of the burner, the hot air balloon stands upright and is ready for launch. Typically, the entire inflation takes about 15 – 20 minutes.

Are hot air balloons allowed to land anywhere?

Jared Kimball: Napa Valley Aloft owns three different hot air balloon launch sites. We choose where to launch based on weather the morning of the flight. Our pilots are up prior to check-in, scouting which hot air balloon launch site is most appropriate for a safe launch. Visibility (fog) is the number one weather condition that is being scouted. We will not know the exact hot air balloon launch site until passenger check-in because fog is so unpredictable. At the time of check-in the launch decision will be made and relayed to the passengers.

Can you eat and drink on a hot air balloon ride?

Jared Kimball: As pilots ask to hold on tightly with both hands, to the rope handles provided upon landing we ask for any sort of drinks or food to be left behind.

How much do your hot air balloons cost?

Jared Kimball: Our balloons generally retail for over $100,000

Share your story of how Napa Valley Aloft came about?

Jared Kimball: Hot air ballooning has been a part of our family since 1974 when my Father first started flying commercially. My brother and sister followed suit by obtaining a FAA commercial pilots license in 1998. After working in the industry for many years the family had an opportunity to purchase Napa Valley Aloft to call our own, and put forth all of our collective knowledge and experience to build the best balloon company by emphasizing on a customer first experience and safety.

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