Floating above the desert – Cave Creek, AZ

May the winds welcome you with softness.
May the sun bless you with its warm hands.
May you fly so high and so well that God
joins you in laughter and sets you gently
back into the loving arms of Mother Earth. – The Balloonist Prayer

This was the prayer inscribed on the champagne glasses we used during the ceremonial toast celebrating our successful hot air balloon flight.  Perhaps a bit cheesy, but we had a lot of fun.  Captain Randy Long took us flying on what he claimed is the largest passenger hot air balloon in America.  And yes, this balloon was huge and we were amazed as we shared what looked like an oversized wicker laundry basket with fourteen other adventurers (it holds up to 20).

By comparison, our first hot air balloon trip several years ago was in a tiny and cramped basket as only four passengers jockeyed for good photography positions.  But this basket gave us our own little compartment and it was plenty spacious.

Arizona Hot Air Balloon Safari
Steve volunteered to do a little crew work while I snapped photos of every step
Hot Air Balloon
Unrolling the huge envelope
Hot Air Balloon
It took four gas-powered fans to inflate this monster
Hot Air Balloon
Next the propane burners were ignited to heat the air inside
Hot Air Balloon
After about 30 minutes we’re ready for lift off
Hot Air Balloon
Up, up and away in our beautiful balloon!

Because hot air ballooning is dependent on wind speed and direction, lift off didn’t happen immediately after we gathered at 6:30am.  We drove to three locations before Captain Randy found the right spot to launch.  We finally got off the ground and drifted quietly above the Sonoran desert to about 1,800 feet, with no rush of wind in our faces.  From our corner of the wicker basket, Steve and I scanned 360 degrees of desert panorama as the balloon traveled in a slight breeze.  It was just like floating on air, so peaceful and completely quiet except when the burners were running.

Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix skyline in smog
Hot Air Balloon
Steve points to our campground at Cave Creek Regional Park
Hot Air Balloon
There were five hot air balloons flying that day
Hot Air Balloon
Dense housing north of Phoenix
Desert Sonoran Preserve
Hovering over the Phoenix Sonoran Desert Preserve
Desert Sonoran Preserve
Hikers at the Preserve
Desert Sonoran Preserve
Coming back down, we saw our favorites, the Saguaros, standing tall
Hot Air Balloon
An hour later we landed at almost exactly the same spot from which we launched
Arizona Balloon Safaris
Randy tells us this is a legendary ceremony that balloonists are treated to after each safe flight – saying the Balloonist Prayer and enjoying a toast

Arizona Hot Air Balloon

We learned there are several hot air balloon operations in the Cave Creek area, as we watched up to 7 balloons in the air almost every morning and even a few in the evenings for the sunset flights (those looked like fun, too).  We happened to select Arizona Balloon Safaris and thought they did a great job.

We are currently staying in Cave Creek on the outskirts of Phoenix, enjoying perfect weather so far –  sunny days and a bit nippy at night.  Cave Creek Regional Park (Steve’s review here) was an easy choice as our home base, as we loved our first stay here exactly three years ago.  Our site is wonderful, but we think the beautiful hill behind Betsy in the picture below is causing major internet connectivity issues.  It’s leaving me whining because it’s hard to keep up with the whereabouts and activities of my friends in the blogosphere!

Cave Creek Regional Park AZ
Site #4 at Cave Creek Regional Park

Other than that minor complaint, life is good here in the desert!



  1. Amazing photos of your great adventure MonaLisa. I love the first shots of the balloon being inflated. I’ve never had that experience, but always wanted to. The balloons are so pretty!

    Glad you are enjoying your stay in the desert. There is nothing quite like it and those amazing Saquaro.

  2. Great blog. So cool seeing those pretty balloons flying high in the desert. Love the balloonist prayer. Also on our future bucket list. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Great pictures, especially from high above Phoenix. I always enjoy seeing photos from areas I’ll never be! They clearly show one of the geographic reasons Phoenix has a smog problem. We’ve never stayed at Cave Creek but have always loved the area. We usually just drive up from McDowell Mtn., another great regional park. Looks like you’re having a ball up there.

  4. What fun! It’s been 30 years since we’ve had a balloon ride. Nice pictures of the Phoenix area. Looking forward to getting back to AZ and the warmer weather in Q next month.

  5. Another cool adventure for you two! It must be an amazing feeling to be floating above the desert with a bird’s eye view of the terrain. Looks like you have a beautiful site worth the trade-off of poor connection.

  6. Hot air ballooning is such a cool adventure. I think my favorite thus far is the one I did in Turkey’s Cappadocia region, flying over the fairy chimneys. What a spectacular landscape.

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