Hot Air Balloon Rides Napa Valley - FAQsWelcome to our frequently asked questions page. This page will give you an opportunity to learn more about what to expect during your hot air balloon Napa Valley adventure. Below is a compilation of questions we get asked all the time by our Napa Valley balloon rides passengers. If you wish to obtain additional details, please contact us.
Where do we fly and what do we see?
On most days, we launch from the historic grounds of the V Marketplace, Vintage 1870, in the heart of Yountville–a quaint rural village near the mid-point of the Napa Valley. As we rise above the valley floor, panoramic views open up of the Napa Valley Wine growing region. To the north the majestic Mt. St. Helena, to the west the Mayacamas Mt. Range, and the east the sculptured terrain of the Vaca Range. With favorable winds aloft the balloons can climb to higher altitudes where we may catch a glimpse of the San Francisco skyline and even the majestic Sierras to the east.
How long does the whole experience last?
Because there are so many variables in ballooning, we can only give you an estimate of how much time you want to plan on spending with us. Generally, not counting any shuttle service we provide from your lodging, you should count on being with us for about 3-½ to 4 hours. This includes check-in, balloon inflation, the flight, pack-up, transportation back from the landing site, and a leisurely sit-down breakfast served in a restaurant setting in Yountville. We hope that our passengers will be able to set aside enough time to fully enjoy the magnificent experience of ballooning hot air balloon flying without feeling rushed.
Why do you fly so early?
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.
How does weather influence ballooning?
We are blessed in the Napa Valley with nearly perfect conditions for hot air ballooning most of the year. Those conditions are calm surface winds, stable air currents and cool temperatures. Each year, on average, we are able to fly about 200 days. When you receive your confirmation of balloon flight, you will be advised to call our weather briefing number early on the morning of your flight. This is a recorded message that will advise you of our weather decision. If we do have to cancel, there is of course no charge to you and we will make every feasible effort to reschedule you if you are going to be in the area for additional days.
Is commercial ballooning regulated?
Yes. Our pilots are all FAA certified and our equipment is inspected regularly at FAA designated repair stations. Our insurance meets the requirements of the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for passenger travel in our ground vehicles is PUC-certified as required by law. 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.
What are our flying options?
San Francisco Bay Area is famous for it’s fog which occasionally moves into the Sonoma and Napa Valley. This early morning phenomenon coincides with the optimal time that balloons need to fly. We will make every effort to fly in the Napa Valley, but it is also possible to drive 30-40 miles away, leaving Napa County for our other two beautiful flight corridors.
How high and how long will we fly for?
The altitude will vary during the flight and depends 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 flight may be at treetop level. The pilots are skilled at providing you a wonderful experience. 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.
Is ballooning appropriate for everyone?
Ballooning is a fun activity for people of almost any age. There are some individuals for whom ballooning isn't appropriate and will not be permitted to fly: infants, very young children (less than six years of age) who are not tall enough to see over the side of the basket, pregnant women, individuals who have done a recent deep scuba dive, and people suffering from chronic pain or have had recent major surgery. If you have a medical condition which could cause discomfort or be aggravated during the flight, or have been advised to restrict your activity because of a medical condition, please consult your physician in advance. Passengers stand during the hour-long flight, and may need to walk a distance from the balloons to the chase shuttles, sometimes on uneven ground. The balloons do not have doors, and a certain amount of flexibility and upper body strength are desirable for getting in and out of the hot air balloon. Ballooning is best appreciated by those who have a sense of adventure. For more information, see our Passenger Information Sheet, which is provided with your confirmation materials.
What should we wear and bring?
Wear casual clothing, preferably in layers so that you can adjust to the warming temperatures as the morning progresses. Ladies are most comfortable in trousers, 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. Sun glasses or binoculars are optional, but cameras are a must, so that you can take amazing hot air balloon photos.
How far in advance should I make my reservation?
We recommend calling at least 1-2 weeks in advance; weekends, holidays and the months of August, September and October are generally the busiest. However, we can usually accommodate a limited number of last minute reservations, so don’t hesitate to give us a call even if it is the day before.
How do I make a reservation?
Your reservation is a phone call away. Use our online booking system or you may contact the Concierge to assist you. You may use Visa, American Express, MasterCard, or Discover to reserve your space. We require 72-hours’ notice for cancellation or schedule changes.
Is there a shuttle service?
We provide complimentary shuttle service to our Napa Valley hot air balloon passengers who are staying in the immediate Yountville area.
Shuttle service is offered from Napa, Oakville, Rutherford and St. Helena for an additional fee of $15 per person.
Please let us know when booking your reservation if you will require this service.