Sunrise Hot Air Balloon rides near Seattle

A Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride near Seattle

Mt. Rainier from a hot air balloon
A must-do Seattle adventure! Start the day floating over the Woodinville Wine Country centrally located between Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, the Olympic and Cascade Mountain Ranges – only 20 miles from downtown Seattle.
We meet in Woodinville early in the morning – shortly after sunrise, so at 6:00 am May through mid-August. As the days start getting shorter, sunrise becomes later each day so the meeting time is adjusted accordingly (check booking schedule for actual meeting times by date).
Some people prefer to sleep in when they get a chance. So morning rides may not be for you. But if you’re into photography you may prefer the fresh clean air of a new day. Camera buffs have reported that it provides the optimum opportunity for super clear shots. Get a bird's eye view of Seattle on a Hot Air Balloon Ride. The wind is usually calmer in the morning which can allow for a little more time aloft. It can be a great way to start a day of sightseeing and other adventures you may have planned. Some say getting up early for an exhilarating experience is a great way to begin one’s day!

Getting Started

Sunrise meeting location for Over the Rainbow Hot Air Balloon Rides

We will meet you in the parking lot at the Downtown Woodinville Shopping Center on Garden Way. A few minutes before the meeting time, a white Ford van will arrive. It will be in the parking lot at the far end of a sidewalk just to the right of the front door if exiting Haggen's. The address is 17641 Garden Way NE. That is where we recommend you park.  

It is important to be on time to the meeting location so the launch isn’t delayed and all can enjoy the fullest possible flight experience. Often, our passengers would like a coffee or espresso beverage since it's still early morning. There's a Mercury Coffee just inside Haggen's.  There are also restrooms inside Haggen's. Please be sure to arrive early if you feel you would like to take advantage of those services. The meeting time is shown on the email confirmation you received when you made your reservation.
Once everyone has arrived and checked in, you’ll board the van, (which is often referred to as a “Chase Vehicle) and be driven to the launch site – usually 10 - 15 minutes away. The people you’ll be flying with will ride to the launch site together – a great opportunity to get to know each other! When the van stops, you will be only steps from your balloon and your Professional FAA Certified Pilot will greet you as you exit the van and will give a briefing about when and how to climb into the balloon basket. Next, two people will volunteer to help with the inflation.
filling the hot air balloon with the fan
Now the excitement begins! You’ll watch our crew get everything set. First, the basket will be tipped onto it's side  and the envelope (the fabric part of the balloon) will be connected. Large fans will be started to force air into the envelope as it is being stretched out along the ground – the fans are pretty loud. The volunteers will hold the opening of the balloon open to make it easy for the air to enter. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your giant balloon fills with air and begins to take shape. Before long, the balloon will look pretty full. Your pilot will have done a thorough Pre-Flight Check and will begin blasting the burners – also loud – to heat the air inside the balloon. You know what happens with hot air – it rises! That causes the balloon to stand upright and brings the basket up with it. The system is in place and ready for you to climb in. It’s important to be ready to board the balloon as soon as it is upright to avoid it being airborne without you!
When everyone is settled on board, your Captain will give another briefing about launch and landing positions. The burners will be utilized a good bit as you begin gently rising into the sky and your ground crew slowly releases the tether and the flight begins as the burners continue to heat the air to rise above the earth. In a few minutes, the burners will be activated only intermittently as needed to achieve the appropriate altitude determined by your Pilot All the noise from inflation will subside somewhat. You’ll begin to notice buildings, houses, cars, trucks, even trees and especially people becoming smaller and smaller like pieces on a Monopoly board and the surrounding views are magnified.

With Mother Nature in control

fall hot air balloon ride
The burners allow the pilot complete control of ascending and descending. But the balloon is propelled by the wind. Wind directions and speeds usually vary at different altitudes. The skill of the pilot becomes evident as he navigates up and down taking advantage of what the atmosphere has to offer, maneuvering to an appropriate place to set down. We use approximately a dozen different places for launching. Which one is selected is based on careful consideration by the staff based on weather reports from several official weather sites taking into consideration where  the Pilot wants to end up.
The normal summer morning wind direction here in Woodinville is out the northeast which makes our favorite launch site a big field behind the Maltby Café in Snohomish. From there the winds carry us over some of the most beautiful scenery in the Pacific Northwest. To the east you will see foothills leading to the sweeping Cascade Mt. Range, to the west you will see Puget Sound and her islands, the beautiful skylines of Seattle, Bellevue and other surrounding cities with the majestic Olympic Mountains as a backdrop while we effortlessly drift back towards the Woodinville Wine Country skimming over forested areas and the many smaller local lakes.
Occasionally we have a light morning wind out of the South-Southwest in which case we launch in the Woodinville valley and fly north towards the old railroad stop of Maltby or even as far north as the Snohomish valley. You will enjoy all the same astounding views on this path. Our crew calls it our backwards flight.
Every flight is an adventure so we are never quite sure exactly where we will land. Wind speed and direction will determine how far you go on a sunrise hot air balloon ride. On average you will travel five to eight miles. Our experienced crew is tracking your flight from below and continuing to examine wind conditions. They remain in contact with the Captain providing reports about the wind. Part of the adventure riding in the sky is taking what nature has given us on this day.

Landing and Champagne Toast

Our ground crew will be nearby when the flight is coming to and end as the balloon descends gracefully back to earth. The pilot identifies where he intends to land and advises the crew. They zoom in to the spot and are ready to assist as needed.
hot air balloon landing Seattle Washington

Now it is time for the traditional champagne and juice (known as a mimosa) toast after a lighthearted tale by the pilot of how ballooning began and the origins of the champagne toast tradition. Of course, if you don’t consume alcohol, and for those underage, sparkling apple cider is available to keep in the spirit of the toast. 
You can relax, review photos and chat with new friends! Meanwhile, the crew is packing up the balloon. When everyone is ready, we will take you back to your cars and you can continue with your day.
We do suggest taking a few minutes to check out the Rooster Cafe if you have time. They have fresh coffee and perfectly prepared espressos and lattes along with other beverages, pastries, and tempting breakfast and lunch items which are reasonably priced to enjoy on their relaxing patio or to take with you. There is also an interesting area displaying vintage items and antiques that is always fun to explore. They have extended an offer to our guests for a free tasting of wines they make from grapes they have grown and a free tasting of brandy they also make themselves.

You will need to allocate about 3 hours for this adventure.

Return to Your Vehicles

After the experience is over, we will take you back to your vehicles at the meeting location, Haggen's, for you to continue your day. In all, the entire tour will last about three hours.

Our guests often mention they are ready for a bite to eat followed by a nap! They ask about where to go for breakfast. There are a number of places of possible eateries at that time of the day. Here is a list of ones that are close by: Woodinville Cafe, Woodinville Bagel Bakery, Rusty Pelican Cafe, Barking Frog and last but certainly not least is the iconic Maltby Cafe. Some may have a wait and it might be a good idea to call ahead to check. Haggen's offers a ffew eating options inside. Additionally, you will find a plethora of purveyors, many are drive-throughs, of excellent lattes and coffee made to order, that also have pastries and other light meals and snacks if you are short on time. 
We do recommend taking in some of the local world-famous attractions like:
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