Great Reno Balloon

Your Guide to The Great Reno Balloon Race 2019

One of the reasons we think Reno Tahoe is so special is the abundance of unique special events, and arguably one of the most iconic events in the area is The Great Reno Balloon Race. Up to 100 beautifully colored balloons float above Reno in the early hours of the morning. Fans can walk right up to them while the pilots prepare to inflate and get an experience that is unlike anything else in the world. Whether it’s your first time or you’re celebrating their 36th anniversary as a loyal follower, here are some tips to help you manage that early wake-up call at this year’s event held September 6-8, 2019.


With over 125,000 spectators coming out for the event over three days, parking tends to be a challenge. If you were not able to snag one of their VIP Parking Passes this year, there are still several options to get you into the park. There are two parking lots at Rancho San Rafael Park that make for a short walk to the launch field. For $10 you can park at the Sierra Street/McCarran lot or the Coleman Street lot starting at 3:30 a.m. University of Nevada, Reno offers their north parking lot to the public for free parking, but cars must be out of there by 10 a.m. RTC will also be offering rides from several spots around Reno and Sparks. For more information and specifics on parking, check out their Parking & Transportation page.


Balloon Boulevard is filled with everything you want on a chilly morning. You can find dozens of food vendors with everything from hot coffee to breakfast sandwiches to gourmet pastries. Of course, you’re free to bring your own food and beverages to cozy up on the field with, it just never hurts to grab a little something special to add to the mix. You’ll also find toys for the kids, gorgeous balloon memorabilia and the official GRBR merchandise tent. Don’t forget to get your hands on the 36th anniversary pin!

Children’s Activities

Children of all ages are drawn to the whimsical nature of the event, making for a family-friendly environment every year. Kids are free to run and play in the large regional park(but make sure to watch for other people and balloons!) and there is an entire section of Balloon Boulevard dedicated to kids. Bounce houses and slides provide additional entertainment once the balloons have flown off the field. Designated balloons will be giving tethered rides (for a small donation) to anyone wanting to experience the joy of flight. Be sure to meet and greet with the pilots, too! They will be handing out special trading cards so kids can try to collect as many as possible.

Helpful Tips

Keep in Mind:

  • Be sure to layer. It can be very chilly in the morning, but once that sun comes up, the heat is on.
  • Don’t forget your camera! You are guaranteed to capture amazing and memorable moments at this event (that you can later enter into the official photo contest for the event!)
  • Bring cash. Some vendors will take cards but cash makes transactions much smoother.
  • Leave earlier than you think you should to arrive. Traffic can get extremely backed up and it can be quite a walk to the field depending on where you park. You won’t want to miss any part of the show!
  • A balloon launch may be cancelled due to wind. Just because you don’t feel it, doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous 100 feet above you. This event takes safety very seriously and takes all precautions to keep pilots and their passengers safe. Your understanding is much appreciated!
  • Plan to get a seat in the Cloud 9 VIP tent. A perfect view, hot breakfast, mimosa bar and more await you!

Please Avoid:

  • Smoking. Smoking is prohibited on the launch field due to the large amounts of propane in use. Cigarettes can also damage the balloon envelope if they get too close!
  • Bringing your dog. The loud sounds from the burners combined with the crowds, especially in the dark, are not a good environment for your pup.
  • Bringing strollers onto the launch field. Pilots and crew members will be running around to inflate their balloons and strollers can be hard to maneuver out of the way. Feel free to push the little ones around at the south end of the park and shop balloon boulevard.
  • Playing with laser pointers and drones. It interrupts the beautiful show and drones can be a serious danger to the fabric of the balloons.
  • Getting in the way of pilots and crew. Be aware of your surroundings and be prepared to move if in the way of a balloon.

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