Photo credits: banner image courtesy of Ariel Balloon Company
BY Wendy Poischbeg
Imagine gently sailing above historic rooftops, bucolic pastures and valleys, traveling on a breeze as fast as the wind blows. You crest over trees, soccer games and tail lights. It’s just after sunset and you’re in cruise control.
The iconic symbol of the Snohomish valley grants access to landscapes not available on foot, car or boat. It’s a thrill ride, but the thrill is found in the majestic views found by weightlessly sailing high above Snohomish rivers, lakes and valleys filled with wildlife.
Ballooning is calming and thrilling at the same time -said Bob Romaneschi, owner and chief pilot for Snohomish Balloon Rides.
While most guests expect a roller-coaster feeling or something more akin to a carnival ride, the thrill isn’t from rocking, tipping or swaying, which we avoid.
Passengers begin their adventure with a meet and greet with their captain before taking part in assembling and inflating the balloon envelope. Using big fans to introduce cold air, guests walk inside the multicolored dome before the burner begins to deliver enough hot air to create buoyancy that will ultimately lift the balloon from the ground. From then on – the balloon travels with the wind. The pilot only has control to go up and down, zero ability to navigate left or right. Catching wind at different elevations is how the pilot steers guests through their voyage.
The beauty and grandeur of sailing through the sky can’t get any more breathtaking.
Bob likes to call his aerial cruise a nature walk in the sky. He treats his guests to the highest point possible in order to see the entire Puget Sound region, including sweeping views of Vancouver Island, Seattle and the San Juan Islands. And just when you think that the beauty and grandeur of sailing through the sky can’t get any more breathtaking, Bob gently descends for a sweet little touch down into the Snohomish River, a splash and dash if you will – before rising up again.
Balloon rides in Snohomish last roughly three hours from start to finish and always end with a celebratory glass of champagne.
If you go: Snohomish Balloon Ride have balloons intimate enough for two or large enough to carry up to 10 people. Book two or more balloons at a time to accommodate 18. Though space is limited, weekday same-day bookings are available. If you’re looking for a weekend trip, reservations far in advance are recommended.