Brightly colored balloons are launched at the local high school in the early morning and set sail over Salina, Utah. The remainder of the Eyes to the Sky Balloon Festival events take place on Main Street in town. Watch the balloons take off up close and then head over to the entertainment spot. Local talent is the focus, and there is no shortage of it.
Performances feature musical bands, cheerleading performances, and dance productions. Power tumbling and a thrilling FMX show are part of the fun, as is a carnival. Bring the kids for a weekend of dancing, water slides, and face painting fun.
Place your bid in the quilt auction, and peruse the vendor booths. Don’t miss the balloon glow, where the pilots tether the balloons, set the flames aglow, and show the attendees the beauty of the alighted shapes.
While in the area, consider hiking Black Cap Mountain. This prime trekking destination overlooks the town of Salina. History buffs can visit Miss Mary’s Historical Museum or Camp Salina, a former POW camp. Fishlake National Forest is just over a half-hour away and well worth the jaunt.
“Let’s fly together,” is the theme of the family-oriented Eyes to the Sky Balloon Festival. All events are free of charge. There are even free tethered balloon rides, available on a first-come, first-served basis. Make this spectacular weekend part of your summer. See www.eyestotheskyballoonfestival.com to make it happen.
The drive to Salina is picturesque and remote. Set the coordinates and concentrate on the road, but do allow your eyes to take in the view as well. I-70 will get you there through mountainous roads with extraordinary views. Familiarize yourself with the UDOT website before leaving home to be aware of road conditions and weather alerts.
Parking is plentiful in the small town of Salina. A beautiful location with ample green space, the town has wide side streets that should be maneuverable in your motorhome. If in doubt, contact the organizers for details.
Public transport is not offered in the town of Salina. However, the festival is high on the walkable score. Park your rig and ask the friendly townspeople for directions as you go on foot to the events.
Described as “one of the most scenic places in the nation,” Salina does have a couple of campgrounds near town. Eyes to the Sky Balloon Festival does not have onsite camping, but choose a Salina campground and be just minutes away from the early morning launches both mornings. If you love trout, camp near Fish Lake where the abundance of fresh fish is second to none. ATV trails are within proximity, too.
Check out Richfield or Killmore for an RV campground near the balloon fest. Or, venture just a few hours out to Capitol Reef National Park. Bryce Canyon National Park is another favorite state park, with unmatched scenery and sunsets. Plan to stay at one or two of the exceptional destinations within the National Park Service of Utah. Birding, fishing, hiking, and wildlife viewing are yours for the enjoying.
Eyes to the Sky Balloon Festival is easily accessible by wheelchair, stroller, and wagon. Bring help along though, as the distances may prove tiring. Comfy shoes for all walkers are essential. Pack a second pair for a change of pace for the feet and do the same for the kiddos enjoying the carnival rides, FMX shows, and cheerleading extravaganzas.
Salina weather is classified as desert-like with hot days and very cool nights. Pack your campervan or pop-up with a variety of apparel, ranging from shorts and t-shirts to jeans and cozy sweatshirts. Hats are a must for during the day to protect the eyes, face, and ears from the blazing rays of the sun.
To enjoy the incredible scenery of the state, be sure to bring along lawn chairs for relaxing around the Airstream after a long day. Tote the same chairs to the festival for seating during the musical concerts. Stock the camper with flashlights for walks under the starry Utah sky, extra blankets for crisp nights, toiletries, and cameras.
Sunscreen and bug spray should top the camping prep list. Have the family bring water bottles to the festival and make sure they remember to drink liquids throughout the day. Visit the vendors for a cold refreshment or a fun slushie if you are celebrating summer in the mid-day heat. Take a break in the shade often and reapply sunscreen at the same time.
Hiking and trekking activities increase the appetites of campers ten-fold. Because of this, a well-stocked refrigerator is essential. Have plenty of grab-and-go foods prepped like veggies, yogurt, muffins, and power drinks. If you’ve rented an Airstream or Class A with heaps of extra space, pack a smoothie maker for healthy snacks to tote on the trail. Suppers can be hearty, such as soups, chowders, and chilis.
Give the chef the night off and pop into Salina for a fast food meal as a treat for the kids, or try out a local hot spot. Try a tasty panini, burger, enchilada, or a slice of pizza. Enjoy a quiet evening and a homestyle meal, and then take a walk around town to settle your food. Top the night off with a delicious, frothy milkshake.
Mainstreet Salina comes alive all weekend with both food and craft vendors. The variety of crafts is extensive, and you will also find commercial-type goods for sale. Vendors will take cash or credit at their discretion, so if there is a particular item you are looking for, have cash on hand just in case. Don’t forget to shop for your Eyes to the Sky official t-shirt.
Keep the small town feeling alive at Eyes to the Sky by respecting those you encounter. Give the pilots space and teach the children the rules of being around balloons. Watch for the tether lines and do not step on them. Keep the kiddos close at hand and have a meeting place determined in the event that there is a separation.
In Salina, the best time of day for launching the balloons is early in the morning when the winds are calmest. This is typically before dawn with the balloons often set to go at 6 a.m. Be up and ready early in the morning and get to the launch field well before takeoff time to enjoy the majesty of the event. Wear boots to keep your feet dry from the dew and show patience if the pilots decide weather conditions are not right. Remember, they will launch as soon as the time is right.
Familiarize yourself with the location of the town medical clinic when you arrive in case there is a need. Have a first-aid kit in the RV and top it up before leaving home. Band-aids, gauze, tweezers, tape, scissors, antibiotic and antiseptic creams, and peroxide are essential items for cleaning and dressing wounds.