Known for dotting the bluebird skies above the Fraser Valley with rainbow kaleidoscope and lime green alien balloons, Grand Adventure Air Balloon Tours was recognized as one of the best ballooning experiences in the country for the third year in a row.
On Friday, USA Today’s annual reader’s choice 10 Best competition released the results for best hot air balloon rides, with Grand Adventure coming in at No. 2, rising in popularity over 2020 and 2019, when the ballooning company ranked third.
Run by locals Sue and Jack Castellion, Grand Adventure offers tours year-round of the spectacular local views like Rocky Mountain National Park, the Fraser Valley, the Continental Divide and the Colorado River.
Grand Adventure beat out balloon companies in the Napa Valley, Las Vegas, Basalt and Asheville, North Carolina. Having previously flown in Napa Valley and other parts of California, Grand Adventure co-owner Sue Castellion can confidently say Grand County offers some of the best balloon rides.
“I think people have finally found us,” Castellion chuckled. “The area is beautiful and some of the best for ballooning. The landings are great for ages 4 or 5 and up.”
No two flights are the same, with chances to see wildlife, float alongside peaks and reach heights of 1,000 to 3,000 feet above Grand. Pilot Captain Jack, who has flown in the area for over three decades, also shares the history of ballooning, Native American stories and environmental and historical highlights of the area during the ride.
“We’ve been seeing antelope, coyotes, owls, all kinds of things (this year),” Castellion said. “At the highest altitude, we’re looking at peaks in the Gore Range, the Flat Tops in Steamboat, Rocky Mountain National Park, all of that good stuff.”
With his experience in the area, Castellion said Captain Jack is known for offering gentle rides, typically at sunrise for the best weather. The mountain valley inversions also provide slightly warmer temperatures in the sky than on the ground, making even winter rides comfortable.
“He’s very skilled,” she said. “I call him the wind wizard. He has a perfect safety record.”
While Grand Adventure has helped guests celebrate birthdays, engagements and anniversaries, Castellion said a ride in the sky is ideal for any occasion or just to enjoy a new adventure.
“It’s a great way to see the area,” she said. “People who have lived here for a long time will go up and say ‘wow, I didn’t know it laid out like that’ or ‘I thought I knew the area, but now I really do.’”
Guests can choose from the kaleidoscope balloon seating up to 12 people or the alien balloon that fits four or five people.
Following the tour, guests enjoy a celebratory champagne toast, a tradition that is over 200 years old. Grand Adventure also includes a launch picture and a commemorative certificate for aeronauts with every ride.
Regardless of whether guests want to see Grand in its blooming spring splendor, lush green summer, colorful falls or magic white winters, rides are available every day of the year, weather permitting. For more information, go to www.grandadventureballoon.com.