For over two decades, the blue skies of Bluff, Utah have been interrupted in winter by the sight of beautiful, bold, and bright balloons. It’s not by coincidence either, for the annual Bluff International Balloon Festival is an attraction that brings families from across states to see this very attraction.
The Bluff International Balloon Festival has lured in balloonists to experience the beauty of southeastern Utah since the late 1990s. It’s an event that spans three days in the heart of Bluff and incorporates a myriad of different events to ensure RV travelers and other visitors want to stay a little longer.
In past years, flights have begun on the Friday of the event in the early morning, followed by a traditional taco supper at Bluff Elementary School that evening. There are also early morning flights the following day, followed by raffles, treats such as Chili and ice cream, and more. On the final day of the Bluff International Balloon Festival, organizers always aim to please with a sunrise flight over Monument Valley.
Once the final balloon has taken to the skies, visitors to this small Utah town are invited to check out what else the area has to offer. Pay a visit to the Navajo Twin Rocks, or travel over to the neighboring state of Colorado to visit the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. Mesa Verde National Park is not too far away, either.
Weather permitting, there are plenty of things to occupy your time while in Bluff for the Bluff International Balloon Festival. Start preparing for your winter travels today.
If affordability counts for a lot when you’re taking an RV trip, then you will be delighted when you attend the Bluff International Balloon Festival. In past years, this event has been free for everyone in the family. As long as you are in Bluff during the festival, you can watch the balloons take to the sky without paying a fee.
Bluff is a small San Juan County town near four state borders. It’s accessible from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah on various United States routes. The cold semi-arid climate sees the area often blanketed in snow during winter. This means travelers will see the value in a traffic app like UDOT to alert them to any adverse weather conditions when they enter Bluff.
Carrying snow chains and tuning into a weather app or website can offer additional safety and peace of mind. Bluff is bordered by the San Juan River and is located within the Colorado Plateau. Utah State Routes 163 and 162 and US-191 pass through it. A beautiful sign with models of the Navajo Twin Rocks greets you upon arrival, and you can then bundle up tight and prepare for the release of the balloons.
Finding somewhere to park your motorhome during the day will not be a problem in Bluff. There is plenty of off and on-street parking throughout the town streets. As some of the events are at the town’s community hall and local school, you may find an abundance of parking areas within these parts as well.
The best form of transportation to get you to and around Bluff in Utah is your motorhome. Whether you have a Class A, Sprinter, Airstream, or something similar, it will comfortably be your set of wheels without all too much hassle. The township lacks public transport, so those who don’t want to use their RV for everything may like to haul their bicycle out of storage for short in-town trips.
The Bluff International Balloon Festival is a sky event, and it’s a bit tricky to pitch a tent in the sky. While you won’t find event-specific accommodation for this event, that doesn’t mean you won’t find any at all. Both primitive RV camping areas and RV campgrounds near Bluff are available. Pay special attention to seasonal opening times, which may apply.
Believe it or not, even a town as small as Bluff still boasts beautiful RV campgrounds for travelers. During winter, one of the dedicated RV parks in the township is self-service or available with online payments. This park is central to all the area’s attractions, including the Bluff International Balloon Festival.
Those who want to explore the greater Utah area may even like to trek a little further out, such as to the Monument Valley KOA Journey around 40 miles from the heart of Bluff. Even though the area is sparsely populated, you don’t have to look all too far to find a winter-friendly campground in Utah with service hookups and a friendly face at reception.
Getting around Bluff may be easier than you think. If you’ve parked your motorhome somewhere comfortable and secure, you can get around much of the town’s main attractions on foot. A bicycle can also be a way in which to get some exercise and fresh air. Dress warmly, though, for that winter air has a bite.
There’ll be no need for sundresses, shorts, and sandals on your trip to Bluff in Utah. Winter has well and truly arrived for the Bluff International Balloon Festival, and you’ll need your wintery best. Don’t leave home without at least one warm jacket, some cozy underlayers, and your best snow boots. Hats, gloves, and scarves are all must-have suitcase additions, too.
There isn’t a lot you will need to bring for the Bluff International Balloon Festival, other than binoculars for better balloon viewing, money for purchases within the town, and your winter woollies. You will need camping and cooking supplies for the RV campground you’re calling home for the next few days. You can also bring your pet along, as long as it is on a leash.
The most important thing to remember when you’re out and about in Bluff is to bundle up. Temperatures can plummet, even if the blue skies offer a false sense of security. Don’t forget to lather on sunscreen for protection from the elements, and apply chapstick to avoid cracked lips from cold winds. Carrying a first aid kit in your RV, along with winter warmer supplies, can also offer much-needed peace of mind on your travels.
Chili, stews, and soups, will all be on the menu during a motorhome trip to Bluff, Utah in winter. The beauty of such meals is that you can prepare them in advance and heat them in your RV while you travel. If you want to make them from scratch, it’s a good idea to plan your menu and grocery shopping beforehand. Towns and cities on the way to Bluff, such as Montezuma Creek, Blanding, and Cortez can provide all the supplies you need, but some can be as far as 80 miles from Bluff.
Grocery stores might be a small trek from Bluff, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a lovely place to sit down for a meal in the town center. Tuck into a delicious steak, or why not devour some hearty American fare? There are a few places along US-191 that provide both ample parking for your motorhome and a warm environment to grab a bite to eat.
While there are no dedicated vendors for the Bluff International Food Festival, there are planned meals each year for visitors to enjoy. These are often held at the local school or around the launch site. Make sure you bring cash and payment cards to ensure you don’t miss out on delicious tacos and hearty chili.
During your travels in Utah and neighboring states, it’s imperative to put your safety and security first. Always lock your RV when you’re leaving it unattended, and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Pets can be sensitive to the sounds of the fuel getting the balloons into the air. If you are bringing a pet to watch the balloon launch, ensure they are on a secure leash. If, at any time, you require emergency assistance, dial 911. The local United States Postal Service may also be able to answer any area-related questions you have.
The cold, semi-arid climate of Bluff and surrounding townships in Utah can be uncomfortable for travelers who don’t take the necessary precautions. Temperatures can be in the low 40s during the day, but nighttime temperatures plummet to as low as 18 degrees-Fahrenheit in many cases.
Rainfall is not uncommon throughout winter either, and around eight inches of snow falls annually. Make sure you have plenty of coolant and your heating units are up to scratch. Carry plenty of water on board, as well as emergency supplies.
Given the isolation of Bluff to significant cities, it’s a good idea to carry as many necessary medical supplies as possible. Pack a fully-stocked first-aid kit as well as any prescription medication you might require. The nearest hospital and pharmacy to Bluff is around 25 miles away in Blanding. In an emergency, dial 911 to access fast medical care.