I love the colors and shapes of the Great Reno Balloon Race. Every September, at the base of the mountains leading up to Lake Tahoe, the sky fills with hot air balloons from all over the country.


At Dawn Patrol, balloons begin inflating in the morning darkness. Close your eyes and it sounds like dragons breathing as the balloons awake from their limp demeanor and stand upright from baskets on the grassy pitch. Only a handful of balloons are qualified to fly in the dark. They glow with light and take flight like khom loy.

The sun appears on the horizon, silhouetting the distinct shapes of balloons awaiting take-off. A fly-over signals the beginning of the Mass Ascension. One by one, the balloons release and float off. By mid-morning the view above is filled with color, like teardrop gemstones hanging in the sky. Simple, elegant, spare, stunning.

Happy Memorial Day weekend!



  1. Great photos! I grew up in Reno and this was always a favorite! I didn’t get to dawn patrol until my Senior year but wished I had sooner, it was beautiful! πŸ™‚


  2. Hot air balloon ride is one of the things I want to try but haven’t got the chance to do. It must be an unforgettable experience floating up there when it’s still dark and patiently waiting for the sun to rise. Love the colors of your photos, Kelly.


  3. A beautiful sight! I’m a little freaked out by hot air balloons, but I did get in one once in Cappadocia just because I have to try everything (well, most things) at least once. Your photos are a great combination of colorful close-ups and the spreading of the balloons across the sky. Great clouds that day, too!


    1. Thanks, Lex! Funny… I’m freaked out by them too! Love to watch them, but wouldn’t want to be in one. If we went back to Cappadocia, maybe. But until then, probably not. Yeah, clouds were beautiful on the morning I shot these photos!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What is it about balloons that give you such a wonderful feeling just seeing them float? And hot air balloons…so much more of that feeling, maybe because they are that much bigger? I’ve seen balloons lifting off in a number of places, always thought it would be great to fly one, even though gas scares me. Do they have electric hot air balloons? My next post may be about my balloons over Bagan story. Your photos are so crisp. Love the clouds. The one with the jets…such a great contrast of soft and not soft.


    1. Thanks, Badfish! Looking forward to your Bagan post. I’m scared by gas and fire, too, which is why I’ve never actually gotten into a hot air balloon. Perfectly happy watching from the ground!


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