Guide to Booking your Hot Air Balloon Ride

Sunrise or Sunset?

Mar 4, 2021

You’ve done your research, you’ve googled extensively, read all kinds of TripAdvisor, Expedia, and social media reviews, and now you’ve made your decision. You chose Rainbow Ryders for your hot air balloon bucket list adventure (thank you by the way)! Now what?

You see two options: Sunrise vs. Sunset. Which is the better choice? What are the time frames for each? How early do I need to wake up? How late will we be out? So many questions – don’t worry, we expect you to have them! And when you are spending your hard-earned money on an experience that Is really special, we want to make sure you make the right decision for YOU.

Are you looking for a peaceful, momentous experience? One that happens before the world wakes up and the day-to-day hustle and bustle begins? If yes, our sunrise flight is a great fit for you. There are varied check-in times throughout the year:

Winter Months: 5:45am – 6:30am check in times
Summer Months: 4:30am – 5:00am check in times

One of the biggest questions that we get about our sunrise flight is, “Will be we be in the air when the sun comes up?” We try to move as quickly as possible, but per FAA Regulations, we are not allowed to launch until the sun comes up (unless we have special equipment, like on our dawn patrol flights). Therefore, our plan is to launch right after the sun rises. Not only does this gives you the view of the sun continuing to rise and shine over the mountains and desert, but there are also other benefits to this flight schedule:

Minimal chance of cancellation due to weather
Ideal choice for special occasions or commemorating a special date – Golden hour photo opportunities of yourselves and the landscape

If waking up early isn’t your thing, we have an alternative available during the winter months (usually November – March). For sunset rides, plan to be at the Rainbow Ryders offices for check in around 3:00pm to 4:00pm. This may seem a bit early for a sunset flight, but keep in mind, our experiences are roughly 3 hours long, consisting of the following:

Check-in at the Rainbow Ryders’ office (about 15 min)
Transportation to our launch site for the day, which varies day-to-day depending on the winds that are forecast (about 15 – 30 min)
Set up and inflation of the balloons (about 20 min)
The flight itself, which also varies in both timing and flight path depending on the winds (about 45 min – 1 hour)
Celebratory toast upon landing and pack up of our equipment (about 30 min)
Transportation back to the Rainbow Ryders’ Office (about 15 – 30 min)

The same FAA Regulations apply to our sunset flights as well, so we launch an hour before the sun sets. This allows us to be on the ground by the time the sun goes down. As the balloon and the sun both begin to descend, that golden hour glow sets in, providing the perfect backdrop to our celebratory champagne toast. This delivers the opportunity for the striking photos you see all over our website and social media accounts.

The last thing to consider when making your decision is your availability for reschedules, as hot air ballooning is a very weather-dependent sport. If you have a strict itinerary that would not allow much room for a rescheduled balloon ride, sunrise will absolutely be your best bet. The cancellation rate for our sunrise adventures comes to roughly 20% of them being cancelled due to weather. On the flip side, our sunset departures have about a 40% cancellation rate.

We hope this has helped in making your decision on what adventure will be best suited for you! As always, we are here to help. Our office is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year to ensure you have personalized customer service and all your questions answered.