The balloons are back: Hot air balloons return to Steamboat this summer

Shalena Shamo skims the water in Plaid Pixie at the 40th annual Steamboat Springs Hot Air Balloon Rodeo. After taking a break in 2022, the much loved local event is set to return July 28-29.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Editor’s note: This story was updated Friday, Feb. 17 to reflect the new name of the event.

The Yampa Valley Balloon Rodeo is back on for this summer after the longstanding event took a hiatus last year.

Karen Beauvais of Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties of Steamboat Springs on Thursday, Feb. 16, said she is spearheading organizational and planning efforts for the balloon rodeo this summer, which will be July 29-30.

The balloon rodeo has been hosted by a handful of groups over the years including most recently by the Steamboat Pilot & Today. However, the event went offline last summer when the leadership at the Pilot & Today decided the newspaper could no longer continue to organize the balloon rodeo due to limited resources. The Pilot & Today had tried to find another group or organization willing to take on the effort but was unsuccessful.

Now, a new organizer has stepped in.

“We’re really happy to see the ballon rodeo return,” said Bonnie Stewart, publisher of the Steamboat Pilot & Today. “We were disappointed that we had to cancel last year’s event, but we are thrilled to see it return to the valley.”

Over the phone, Beauvais described how much the balloon rodeo means to her, the pilots she knows so well and many longtime members of the community. Also, she is no stranger to the event or what it takes to get so many balloons off the ground.

“I (helped organize it) the first two years of the balloon rodeo, which was over 40 years ago, and we — Coldwell Banker — have sponsored a balloon ever since it started,” Beauvais said. “Last year it was just very sad, and I got so many comments from not only pilots — I know just about all the pilots — there were tears, they were just so sorry we didn’t have it.”

As a result, Beauvais reached out to Stewart about organizing the event this fall. This week, a lot of those efforts came together, and Beauvais said they just got the green light to move forward for the planned dates.

Beauvais said balloon pilots are expected to arrive in Steamboat on July 28 with a pilots dinner that night. Then there will be balloon launches the following mornings of July 29-30, weather permitting.

Organizers are accepting event sponsorships for $500. Beauvais said sponsors will receive two balloon rides on July 29. Also, there are some volunteer opportunities. For more info about sponsorships and volunteering, contact Beauvais at or 970-846-8814.

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