Colorado Springs, Colorado is home to some of the most beautiful landmarks in the state. While people usually come to the city to visit the Garden of the Gods or the Air Force Academy, during Labor Day Weekend, those venues fade into the background, and the most prominent feature, Pikes Peak, creates a stunning backdrop to contrast the glowing hot air balloons that take over Memorial Park for the Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off.
The Labor Day Lift Off is an event celebrating more than 40 years in Colorado Springs. Each year the hot air balloons vary in size and shape, and the launch brings people of all ages and interests to the area. The event offers attendees much more than balloons. There are exhibits, entertainment, vendors, outdoor activities, and plenty to see and do while you wait for the launch. Balloons generally launch in the mornings when the weather is most stable for lift off. Even more spectacular is the night time balloon glow. At night, almost simultaneously, the grounded balloons fire up, creating a glowing effect for every balloon at the festival.
The Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off is the perfect event to end the summer. Pack your RV and bring your whole family to the Springs to take part in an awe-inspiring festival, and then head to some of the area's most desirable camping locations. Finish the season the way most outdoor enthusiasts prefer to end summer: camping.
At the Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off you can stash your cash and spend what you'd normally pay for an event on something fun. The balloon festival offers free admission, so families can spend time enjoying the event while not worrying about coming and going for different activities throughout the day.
Memorial Park is located off of I-25 in the southern portion of Colorado Springs. Your GPS should help direct you to your selected parking lot, but be aware that during the event, road closures near the venue will impact your route. The Labor Day Lift Off website has information on anticipated road closures to help make your commute easier.
Other routes, including Highway 24 or the side streets will also get you to your parking lot, but heavy traffic and detours might impact your arrival time. If you exit I-25 off of Uintah Road, be aware that there is a low clearance bridge restricting large vehicles over 12' 5'. Additionally, a few side streets south of Memorial Park have a 13' low clearance. Please adjust your routes accordingly. As you near the park, some of the roads and side streets are narrow and may impact maneuverability when cars are parked along the streets.
Memorial Park is a neighborhood park located near the Downtown Colorado Springs area. Because the park isn't made for large events, RV parking is not permitted. Single parking passes or multi-use parking passes are available online for purchase ahead of time. The price varies depending on the location of the parking area you choose. Same-day parking is first-come, first-served, and cash only.
Accessible parking is available for free, but on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit the event website for ticketing information and parking lot locations.
Getting from one part of Colorado Springs to another via bus is easy and inexpensive. Several bus routes run near Memorial Park. Visit the Mountain Metropolitan Transit website for detailed bus maps and pick up or drop off times. If you want to take public transportation, but you prefer rideshares or taxis, contact one of the local services for more information.
The Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off isn't an RV-friendly event. Thankfully, Colorado Springs is an RV-friendly community with several RV parks and state parks located within close proximity to Memorial Park. Bring your RV with you to explore some of Colorado's iconic sites before and after the balloon festival and make the best of your road trip.
Colorado Springs is a perfect location for RV camping because it's close to Pike National Forest. The Springs landscape transforms from the prairie on the eastern side of the city to a fully forested and mountainous area near the base of American's Mountain, Pikes Peak. RVers wanting to stay in a wooded area with access to hiking and other outdoor recreation should consider reserving a space at Cheyenne Mountain State Park. Cheyenne Mountain State Park is close to the balloon launch and offers campers RV sites that have either full or partial hookups and even dry camping options.
If resort style camping amenities are more your style, Colorado Springs has many RV resorts near the south end of town. The Colorado Springs KOA is less than a twelve-mile drive to Memorial Park, or RVers may venture further up Highway 24 and opt to camp in one of the many full-amenity RV parks between Colorado Springs and Woodland Park.
Colorado Springs is a bike-friendly community with bike paths leading throughout the city. Depending on where you stay, you may be able to ride your bike to the event and use the free bike parking located next to the tennis courts. Once you get to the event, be mindful of the people around you. Walking from one point to another is the best way to get around. If you have small children and you want to use a stroller or wagon, it may be hard to maneuver in larger groups of people, but it is possible.
One of Coloradoans' favorite sayings is, "If you don't like the weather, then just wait an hour." Labor Day weekend is still a warmer time of year in Colorado, but the temperatures change rapidly with the quick-moving storms that form over Pikes Peak. It's best to pack light-weight clothing that is easy to layer. Since you will be on your feet a lot, bring comfortable walking shoes. Also, the wind often makes an appearance during the Labor Day Lift Off, and you don't want to be caught off guard without a windbreaker, light hoodie, or a low-profile hat.
When you plan your trip, it's best to separate your gear into two categories, what you need for the Lift Off and what you will need at your RV site. For the Lift Off, bring a blanket or small folding chairs to sit on while you listen to music or wait for the launch. Small coolers are permitted, but make sure you don't pack any glass containers.
For your RV trip, you will also want outdoor chairs. If you are lucky enough to snag a scenic RV space overlooking Pikes Peak or Garden of the Gods, sitting outside is a must.
Don't forget to pack your bikes, too. Use the multi-use trails that weave through the city to see some of the must-see sites.
When you pack for your Colorado adventure, keep in mind that depending on where you are traveling from, you might have a little trouble adjusting to the altitude. Colorado Springs sits at an elevation of 6,035 feet, and the high altitude might cause some people to have a headache or feel nauseated. The best remedy to combat altitude sickness is to drink water with electrolytes and take pain relievers. Prevent feeling yucky by drinking more water than usual. Put together a small first aid kit and include electrolyte tablets with the medicine you might need should you feel off for a few days.
When preparing your RV kitchen for your trip, choose meals that will work best with your campsite hookups. Full hookup sites have no restrictions, and you can cook anything from stovetop meals to convection oven meals if your rig has those options. If you prefer to cook outdoors, be aware that some parts of Colorado have fire restrictions if the weather becomes warm, dry, and windy. Bring a backup for your flame-grilled burgers in case you have to change cooking methods from an outdoor charcoal grill to an indoor propane stove.
While you visit Colorado Springs, you will find one-of-a-kind restaurants with unique world cuisine. The downtown area offers more locally-owned restaurants and breweries than other parts of the city. Start your day off right by visiting a breakfast cafe and then end your day visiting a brewery or distillery. Should you want fast food or a restaurant that's open 24 hours, don't worry, you have much of what you will need within a short distance.
Since you are saving money with free admission, bring your money and visit one of the many vendors onsite during the Labor Day Lift Off. Choose from concessionaires, food stands, beverage booths, arts and craft vendors, and much more. Each year, the vendor booths get better, so plan to spend time checking everything out. Bring cash and credit cards with you in case the vendors have a preferred payment method.
The Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off is an open-air festival that doesn't have entrance gates to pass through upon arrival. Event staff has rules in place to ensure the safety of the vendors, visitors, and balloon operators. Before heading to the event, read the policies on prohibited items because you don't want to bring something that might interfere with balloon operation. Everyone attending the event will feel safe knowing the Colorado Springs Police Department is less than two miles away.
The weather in Colorado Springs between August and September sees daytime highs averaging between 75° and 82° and nighttime lows averaging between 48°and 56°. During the warmer months, fast building thunderstorms form over the top of Pikes Peak, bringing storms that produce heavy wind, hail, and thunder and lightning. The storms usually build in the early to late afternoon and pass through the city relatively quickly. Keep an eye to the sky and seek shelter as needed. After the storms move through the area, the temperatures change from warm and muggy to cool and comfortable.
Hopefully, during your visit to Colorado Springs, you won't need to visit a medical facility or to seek medical care. If you start to feel unwell, a handful of hospitals, urgent care clinics, and pharmacies are within a short distance from Memorial Park, some even within walking distance. If you need medical help during the balloon festival, find a member of security or event staff, and they will direct you to the nearest medical facility or help you find the care you need.