March 18, 2012

Balloon festival in Monument Valley

The Monument Valley Balloon Festival in Navajo Nation

By Diego James RoblesMonument Valley in the majestic Navajo Nation is a sacred place for its Diné people and apparently American balloonists as well. Each year, hundreds of thousands of tourist and travelers from all over the world visit the tribal park’s unique towering sandstone formations, but only once a year do a privileged few get to tower over these monuments themselves during the annual Monument Valley Balloon Festival.

“This is by far the best place to fly because, well, just look at it, it’s absolutely awesome,” Phoenix balloonist Susan Farley said on a chilly Saturday morning near Rain God Mesa just moments before she and her crew flew away in her balloon Sky Sailer.

Farley has been ballooning for 28 years and first flew Monument Valley in 1991 when it was by invitation only. She flew again the next year but according to her, flights didn’t resume in the area until 2002 and now with the festival well established, she hopes it will be a regular occurrence.

“Yesterday we flew the mittens and that is something in my lifetime I never thought I would do,” Farley continued. “It was so extraordinary because balloons are like the Navajo Nation: you go with the wind, it’s a spiritual thing.”

In its second year of existence and this time held on the three-day weekend of February 24-26, 2012, the hot air balloon festival has grown tremendously from a few hundred visitors and one sponsor to more than 5,000 visitors and ten sponsors.

“It is so much bigger this year with all the tents and way more packed,” Arlisa Yazzie of Flagstaff, Ariz. said.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Balloon Flight Over Monument Valley.

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