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Teton Valley Hot Air Balloon Rally

Mark your calendar, get up early, and head over Teton Pass for next year’s Teton Valley Balloon Rally. That’s my suggestion!

I was there early for the 36th annual event, typically held around July 1st each year. It’s a heck of a deal! Pay $5 to park, then walk around almost unrestricted! I had visions of being roped off, away from the balloons, but those visions were wrong!. Onlookers are rewarded with an intimate experience. Spectators can walk among the balloon crews and watch the balloons being unfolded, filled with air, and then raised to the sky via hot air.

Unrolling the Balloon

I was at the fairgrounds site long before daylight…too early! I’ve seen photos from the Albuquerque event where balloons were being filled during the pre-dawn period—lit by the fire of the propane jets. For this event, most balloons are filled between 6:00 am and 6:45 am. The balloon above was being unpacked prior to the 6:00 am pilot’s meeting.

Take a Ride! Entry to the parking area is $5, but if you want to take a Hot Air Balloon Ride, get there early and bring about $300 per person. Riders help ready the balloons, as seen above.

Balloon Interior

Balloon are temporarily filled with cool air via large fans. During that stage, all of the crews allowed photographers to shoot into the balloon.

Balloon Interior

This is definitely not something I see every day!

Adding the Heat

It’s cold a first light here in the mountains. The blast of warm air from the jets raises the balloon from the ground and emanates to chilly onlookers.


This year, there were nine colorful Hot Air Balloons registered to fly out of the event. An additional couple of balloons took off just to the south for a total 11 balloons in the air.

Take Off

There were a lot of people at the event, but it didn’t feel crowded. Following the National Anthem and a short intro from an announcer, balloons began to lift off with Lynard Skinner’s Sweet Home Alabama echoing across the valley.

Hot Air Balloons

The Fairgrounds are located just to the south of the Driggs airport. There are nine balloons in this scene, with two more readying to lift off. Gentle southerly winds pushed them north with chase crews not far behind.

Teton Valley Hot Air Balloon Ralley

This is one of the last balloons to take off. Notice the Grand in the distance and spectators right in the middle of the action.

Camera Gear

I carried two cameras and two lenses for the event. A Nikon 24-70mm lens was paired with a Nikon D5 (full frame) and a Nikon 14-24mm lens on a Nikon D810 (full frame), leaving the tripod in the truck. I’d use the same gear if going back.


 Up, Up, and Away! See you there next year!

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Comments (2)

  1. Nice photos Mike… enjoy the up close and personal since here in WI at most rallies you are back behind the line.

    I crewed for a hot air balloon team for 3 years and it was a blast. (no pun intended). The downside to the balloons is the wind. Too much and they are grounded so you may get up early, drive to meet the balloon only for it to be a no go. Still a good experience though.

    I would have gladly paid $300 a person for a flight in the tetons!

  2. Lowell Schechter

    Mike , excellent images of the Hot Air Balloon event . I love the crisp blue sky that really brings out the colors of the Balloons. Also , there was one image showing almost a star burst effect which was nice .

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