Your guide to the 41st Great Reno Balloon Race

A beloved local event returns to the skies of Reno.

As many as 100 balloons will be soaring when the 41st annual Great Reno Balloon Race begins next week. GRBR, which has dubbed itself the world’s largest free ballooning event, takes place September 9-11.

Here’s what you need to know to maximize your enjoyment of this unique Reno event:

The basics

What: The Great Reno Hot Air Balloon Race

WhenSept. 9-11. Doors open at 3:30 a.m. daily

Where: San Rafael Regional Park, northwest of UNR in Reno

Cost: Free


  • Car park: General public parking is available starting at 3:30 a.m. at Rancho San Rafael Park with a $20 donation to the event. The lots are located at the corner of Sierra Street and McCarran Boulevard, and on Coleman Street. With estimates of up to 150,000 people, event organizers warn the parking lot will fill up quickly. Visitors can park for free at the University of Nevada, Reno’s North Lots, but cars must be picked up by 11 a.m. Parking is prohibited along McCarran Boulevard and parking laws will be enforced.
  • PSTN will add additional free service to the RAPID Virginia line September 9-11 from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. and extend the route to Rancho San Rafael Park.
  • No motorhomes or motorhomes are allowed.

Event Highlights

  • “Light Shows” are around 5 am each day. The balloons are attached to the ground and light up to the rhythm of the music.
  • “Dawn Patrol” the balloons rise at 5:30 a.m., piloted by an elite group of licensed pilots to fly in the dark.
  • Massive balloon ascension is 7 a.m. each day.
  • Shop along Balloon Boulevard 4:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. daily.

You can view the full schedule of events here.