About Us

Company History

Rainbow Ryders, Inc. is the premier and largest hot air balloon business serving the Southwest since 1983, with offices in Albuquerque, Phoenix, and Colorado Springs and forty balloons in our fleet. Our pilots have flown more than 50,000 hours, serving more than 750,000 passengers. All our pilots are FAA-certified and have nearly 200 years of combined experience. We are also the only “Covid Safe Practice” Certified hot air balloon ride company.

Pilot expertise and commitment to safety are two important reasons why Rainbow Ryders has been the official hot air balloon ride provider for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta® since 1999.

Our founder and president Scott Appelman was the originator and organizer of the Fiesta’s Balloon Glow from 1987 – 1992, an event that is one of the most popular today. He also organized the event’s Special Shapes Rodeo and Albuquerque Aloft and won the Heritage Award from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta as well as the Tourism Hall of Fame award from the Tourism Association of America.


Rainbow Ryders prides ourselves on our commitment to safety. Our pilots are the best in the industry with a minimum of 500 flight hours. We regularly drug and alcohol test our pilots and carry the highest insurance available in the industry.

In addition to our pilot’s training, they are all required to carry a 2nd Class Airman Medical Certificate. We exceed all regulations set forth by the FAA and pioneer new regulations in the industry. We have won countless awards and have been named the only official ride operator for world-renowned events due to the impeccable safety record we hold as a company.

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Daily Flights Year Round


Daily Flights Year Round

Colorado Springs

Daily Flights June - September

Park City

Daily Flights June - September


Albuquerque International Balloon Festival

Albuquerque, NM

Labor Day Lift-Off Colorado Springs, CO

Colorado Springs, CO

Red Rock Balloon Rally

Gallup, NM

Spooktacular Balloon Festival

Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Arizona