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Prices: $295 per adult. Children 4-12 - $245 per
Black Hills Balloons is a one-of-a-kind adventure tour for South Dakota Black Hills locals and visitors. With over 30 years flying experience operating the only hot air balloon ride adventure in The Black Hills, it’s an established and well-known local attraction.
For most, flying in a hot air balloon is a once-in-a-lifetime bucket-list adventure. But flying in the beautiful Black Hills is more than that, it’s unique. While balloon flights are generally focused over vineyards and farmland, Black Hills Balloons flies over some spectacular rugged terrain. We typically fly in the southern hills. The Custer Valley and the world renowned Custer State Park make up the heart of our flying area. There are mountains, valleys, lakes and prairies to view as you drift along on the morning breeze. We quite often see some unique wildlife that you really don't see in many other places from a balloon! The Black Hills are habitat to elk, antelope, buffalo and mule deer. If you're really lucky you might even see a mountain lion from the secure gondola! There’s nowhere else in the world, where you can witness the same views from a hot air balloon and fly over such a historic and beautiful landscape.
Balloons are federally regulated aircraft, meaning they are subject to periodic inspection. All of our pilots are federally licensed commercial balloon pilots and instructors. All flights are at the discretion of the pilot, with special consideration to wind and weather.
An in-house FAA certified Aircraft Maintenance Station and a daily maintenance schedule on our balloons puts you in the safest of hands.
We only fly safe and sturdy equipment that has your safety and comfort in mind. Our larger balloons have compartments that have higher sides than most balloons. They are partitioned and are padded on the inside. These details will give you a high feeling of security once on board. The basket floors are covered with high density foam which truly makes it easier to stand on while enjoying your flight. We hope that these features will give you a high feeling of security once on board and in the air. Be assured that when you fly with us you will be with one of the most established balloon companies in the United States. We have been making amazing memories and dreams come true for over 30 years!
From start to finish be safe in the knowledge that you are fully insured. All our balloons and vehicles are commercially insured for passenger carrying operations.
Want to know more? We’ve supplied a few answers to Frequently Asked Questions to help you learn more about Black Hills Balloons and the experience of flying The Black Hills.
After an easy reservation, whether by phone or online, you can call us or check your email the night prior to your scheduled flight to confirm the weather status and meeting time. The morning of your flight, after meeting the pilot and crew, you are driven to the launch site to witness the balloon coming to life. Inflation takes 20 minutes and with a little hands-on participation the balloon is ready to launch. Your flight over the hills will last approximately one hour (weather and available landing sites permitting), where you’ll enjoy views of local wildlife, gorgeous landscapes and a beautiful Black Hills sunrise. Flight altitude varies from treetops to a few thousand feet to allow the best views and steerage to the best available landing site. Upon landing, the balloon ground crew quickly packs up the gear while we toast with champagne and the traditional Balloonists Prayer.
We meet approximately a half hour before sunrise. This can be anywhere from 5:00am to 7:00am during our flying season. We meet at Buffalo Ridge Camp Resort (Formally known as The Flintstones Bedrock City) located in the center of Custer.
The address is: 422 Mount Rushmore Road, Custer, SD. 57730
Click here for link to Google Maps
Most flights are about an hour. However they can be as short as 45 minutes or as long as 1 hour and 45 minutes. It just depends on weather conditions and landing sites.
Dress like you were going on a hike in the woods. NO OPENED TOED SHOES. It is not any cooler in the balloon than it is on the ground so we suggest dressing for that particular day’s weather.
Feel free to bring along a camera or camcorder to record this once in a lifetime experience. Also, sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat are recommended.
We can go anywhere from treetops to several thousand feet. It depends on wind speed and direction.
No. As the balloon moves with the wind, there is none of this sensation. A balloon flight is so calm, it is possible to set a glass of water on a table in a balloon and not spill a drop.
Health restrictions are few and far between. Unfortunately, due to insurance restrictions we cannot fly pregnant women or children under 4.
If you need to cancel or postpone your flight you must give us 72 Hours notice. Once your booking is complete you will be able to contact us via phone or email to cancel your flight. If you do not give us sufficient notice or do not show for Flight Check-In, you will not be refunded for the flight.
Ballooning is weather dependent. Meaning, we only fly when the conditions are perfect for flight. If we need to postpone a flight it will only be for your safety. We have a 100% safety record and if, in the opinion of our pilots, weather conditions are not suitable for safe flight operations, we will postpone your flight.
If you need to cancel or postpone your flight you must give us 72 hours notice. Once your booking is complete you will be able to contact us via phone or email to cancel your flight. If you do not give us sufficient notice or do not show for Flight Check-In, you will not be refunded for the flight. In case we have to cancel on you in case of poor weather we recommend that you have a backup date in mind as this will give you every opportunity to fly. If not, rest assured that if you cannot rebook in this case your balloon ride is fully refundable.
In 2016 we will have some amazing events once again! We are planning on flying the Devils Tower National Monument and the Historic Stratobowl again in September. Also there will be the long running balloon event right here in Custer during Gold Discovery Days in July. Stay tuned for details!!Book your flight now.
Black Hills Balloons is one of the oldest balloon ride companies in the USA! With over 30 years of local tour experience, with the largest and most modern hot air balloons in the 5-state region, Black Hills Balloons has helped thousands of people see things from a different point of view. Proudly founded, owned and operated from Custer South Dakota for 30+ years!
The Black Hills Balloon Team loves what they do! Find out more about our funny, irreverent and passionate team…
Damien first started working in the commercial balloon business in 1999 and hasn’t looked back since. Starting in Orlando Florida as Crew Chief with Blue Water Balloons, he gained experience on the ground and quickly turned his focus to obtaining his pilot’s license. Over the years, he’s flown thousands of hours and entertained countless passengers; making a name for himself as GM and Chief Pilot for Orlando Balloon Rides, flying the largest hot air balloon in the US. He’s traveled the US, flying some of the oldest balloon events in the world, but nothing compares to flying the Black Hills. Damien hails from County Kildare, Ireland.
Keely was born to fly. At age 7, her mother started flying, she was basically raised by pilots while attending festivals and flying on the weekends. At 13, she started taking lessons so she could follow in her mother’s footsteps and was one of the youngest to receive her flight certificate. Flying in Orlando was her weekend relief from a stressful corporate job until she decided to take the leap of faith and fly full time. An advocate for women balloon pilots and introducing the sport to women and next generation pilots, she founded “Female Balloonists”, a forum for the group to truly embrace being a woman in what is typically a male dominated sport. Keely grew up flying in Northern California but really found her stride flying over the Orlando Florida swamps.
Steve is the founder and original owner of Black Hills Balloons. He may have passed the business side to Keely and Damien but he still loves to fly the area. He’s flown The Black Hills for over 30 years and can tell you a thing or two about the area. Full of stories and life, he’s an icon in the Custer area.
Life is either a great adventure or nothing. – Helen Keller
If you’ve ever considered quitting your day job and running away with the circus, we can totally relate.
After years of wishing for a better life; one that allowed for adventure and enjoying the outdoors and each other, FAA certified balloon pilots Keely Wade and Damien Mahony, decided to do just that. They quit their Florida jobs and “ran away with the circus” by registering a new company name “The Flying Circus Inc.” and running for the hills. They purchased a 30 year old business and took over the reins of the long loved and admired Black Hills Balloons.
It was a difficult decision but one that was considered and weighed, and once committed to, well revered. They both agreed the change was critical to their health and enjoying life to its fullest.
Damien, a very punny (forgive the pun) Irish immigrant who spent his days flying the largest hot air balloon in the US, had to say goodbye to his GM position and the amazing team at Orlando Balloon Rides, one of the most well-oiled machines in the commercial balloon ride business. And Keely, although in love with her corporate Marketing Philanthropy position at Hard Rock International, which combined her love of music, marketing and charity, had to make the decision to walk away from the “the coolest and most unique job ever” (she heard this daily). Over the years she travelled the world and collaborated with legends like Rihanna, KISS, Imagine Dragons, The WHO, Yoko Ono Lennon and U2, but her desire to do something different wouldn’t go away.
The two together are a dynamic duo. Combined, they have over 35 years of flying experience and 20 years of marketing promotion experience. They’ve flown celebrities, hiked the Panama jungle, sipped rose on the Mediterranean, helped raise millions for worldwide charities, shared (bad) jokes with travelers and made countless friends along the way.
Living life to its fullest and doing what you love is a priority for Keely and Damien. So when you fly with Black Hills Balloons, know you’re flying with a team of people who LOVE what they do and have made every sacrifice to be here, to share this day and moment with you.