New Mexico: RV parking at the Balloon Fiesta

I promised that I would give a review of staying at the on-site RV parking at the Balloon Fiesta.

Rally style

This was our first time being parked rally style. Basically, it means that there are no assigned spots, and they park you as you arrive. So if you’re part of a group of 10 RVs, you need to arrive together, so you can be parked together. Since we were not part of a group, they just parked us where they saw fit. Unfortunately for us, that was right in front of the RV registration tent.

Being in front of the RV registration tent

No way to be polite about this – it sucked. The “stop here” line for RV registration was 4 feet from our front steps. That meant that not only did we hear the RVs arriving (during the times we were in the RV), but that unless we kept our shades closed, we could also see the RV drivers. And they could see us.

Another downside was that because we were by ourselves, and we don’t like it when our stuff goes flying around, we often kept our “awning area” clean. This meant that people felt free to just walk down the side of our RV on their way to somewhere else. No question, we did not like this because we are used to RV parks, where it is usually in the park rules to not walk through someone’s space. They really needed to have a walk/drive lane right about where they put our RV (and the rows behind us), because the nearest one was at least 10 RVs down from us.

Rain and a flash flood

The Friday before the Balloon Fiesta started, the Albuquerque area was hit by a rain storm. And not just any rain storm, but a monsoon that dumped a couple of inches of rain in a short amount of time. We had put our outdoor items away the night before (and locked them up), so we weren’t worried about things washing away. We drove in downtown Albuquerque to run some errands, and when we got back to the RV parking lot, it was apparent that flooding had taken place.

We still had water coming through our spot.

You see all that dirt? It wasn’t there before the rain. One of our neighbors confirmed that it had been a flash flood, and our RV was right in the path it took.

If you notice the vehicle behind us, it was not in the path. The water came down from the top of the parking lot (the lot is gently sloped) and brought a whole bunch of dirt, mud, and sticks with it.

Unfortunately, this meant that for the entire Balloon Fiesta, we entered the RV one at a time, so we could take off our shoes in the stairwell and not get mud/dirt all over the place.

The mud took a long time to dry. After 24 hours, it was just squishy. The side effect is that not too many people walked beside our RV to get somewhere else.  🙂

It took at least 4 days for this to be just dirt, instead of squishy mud. The good thing is that we did not lose anything in the flash flood. Some folks did lose items that they never recovered.

The gates into the Balloon Fiesta

As our RV parking lot used to be a general parking lot, there were 3 gates into Balloon Fiesta park. They only opened one gate, the one farthest from where we were parked. I understand why they did it, because the gate was closest to the general car parking they still had on the other side of the RV parking. However, they really needed one open closer to our end of the RV lot. I suspect they are going to get a lot of feedback about this particular issue from RVers. If they are truly making this lot into a VIP RV parking lot next year, where people pay $100/night, there will be major complaints about this.


The fireworks launched from an area directly behind the RV lot. We knew about it, and were prepared. However, I would recommend that if anyone has nervous/anxious pets, doesn’t like loud booms, or has PTSD – do not stay in this lot. We were walking back from the balloon glow one night just as a firework went off, and an unleashed dog went sprinting down the road. I heard they finally found the dog, but clearly they were not prepared for the fireworks.


We will do the RV camping on-site again, but not in this parking lot. RV registration for 2020 opens at 9 a.m. MST on October 22nd.

2 thoughts on “New Mexico: RV parking at the Balloon Fiesta

  1. The other thing about the RV parking and general getting back and forth to the Festival was very poor attention to the disabled population…

    1. I have to admit, I didn’t see a lot of disabled people, but I was focused on getting my photos. That said, even Bob and I had trouble getting a courtesy shuttle with media passes, so I imagine it was even harder for you.

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