Experience the adrenaline of your feet lifting off the ground and admire Iowa's beauty from breath-taking heights. From hot air balloon festivals and rides to skydiving and parasailing opportunities, here's your chance to see Iowa from a whole new perspective.
Hot Air Balloons
Held in conjunction with the three-day My Waterloo Days festival every June, this nightly event soars high above downtown Waterloo. Spot a balloon during the parade or dragon boat races, then see it up close on the ground when it lands for the night glow in Byrnes Park. Then head back to enjoy the festivities' live entertainment and tasty food.
July, Knoxville and Pella
Relax on the beach of Lake Red Rock, Iowa's largest lake, and enjoy vibrant views of hot air balloons taking off above the water during this exciting event. As they soar through the sky, visitors below can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including paddling, family bike rides and a 5K/10K run on the Volksweg Trail around the lake, with everything starting at the North Overlook Beach. Whether you're on the trail, in the water or in a balloon above, everyone can enjoy beautiful views of Iowa's summer scenery.
July- August, Indianola
One of the most premier hot air balloon events in the Midwest, the National Balloon Classic offers nine days filled with vibrant colors and exciting festivities. Every summer, the sky above Indianola is filled with 100+ balloons in brilliant colors and unique shapes as their pilots compete in a variety of competitions. On the ground below, visitors enjoy live music and delicious food. Each night when the sun sets and the balloons land, the dark skies come alive during the Dawn Patrol and Nite Glow alongside a fireworks show.
Each day throughout the event, you can purchase a balloon ride and experience the skies for yourself. They sell out fast, so be sure to reserve your spot early.
Every June, Ottumwa heats up for one last summer event as professional balloonists take to the air to complete various objectives. Admire the pilots' precision from below as they drop objects onto targets, grab money off the top of poles and play blackjack from the air. Once the competitions draw to a close, the balloons land for night glows and fireworks.
September, Council Bluffs
Held at Ditmar's Orchard & Vineyard, this hot air balloon fest offers the perfect way to kick off your fall festivities. Held every September in Council Bluffs, this event features a weekend of watching balloons from around the Midwest take flight and perform night glows while live music accompanies their dazzling performance. After taking in the views, visitors can enjoy the family-owned orchard's apple picking and wine tasting opportunities.
Recognized as the second largest balloon rally in Iowa, this fall event is held every year on the third weekend of September, during which Creston welcomes more than 50 balloons to compete in a series of races. While watching below, visitors can also enjoy entertainment on the ground including flea markets, craft fairs, carshows and historical museum open houses.
Take a Ride
If you'd rather be in a basket in the sky than watching from the ground, book a tour of Iowa from 5,000 feet with these hot air balloon tour companies.
Balloon Travels Unlimited, Marion
Diamondjake Ballooning, Newton
Serenity Ballooning, Indianola
TEC Visions, Central Iowa
Z-Balloon Adventures, Des Moines area
Des Moines Skydivers, Winterset
Offering jump heights of 10,500 and 14,000 feet, Des Moines Skydivers caters to all types of adrenaline-seekers.
Skydive Iowa, Brooklyn
Get your heart pumping with a 60-second freefall from 14,000 feet or do the high-altitude dive from 18,000 feet for a 90-second freefall, all while attached to a USPA licensed tandem instructor.
Extreme Water Sports, Arnolds Park
Experience the views 600 feet above the crystal clear waters of West Okoboji Lake with Extreme Water Sports' parasailing packages. You can book a trip for up to four hours, perfect for a thrilling afternoon with friends and family.
For an adventure a little closer to the ground, try the Flyboard. Known as a type of water jetpack that's attached to a jetski, which supplies propulsion, you can strap up and fly up to 30 feet in the air or dive eight feet under water.