2023 launch dates:  September 8th, 9th & 10th

South Dakota is rich in aviation history.  From Aerostar inventing the modern hot air balloon, to high altitude research, the Mount Rushmore State is the proud location for many ground-breaking projects.  One such location is located right here in the Black Hills; the Stratobowl.

Located between Rapid City and Hill City / Keystone, near Bear Country USA and Reptile Gardens, The Stratobowl was first made famous in the 1930’s when manned high altitude gas balloons launched from the site, visited the stratosphere and made history. It was the first time humans reached the stratosphere and saw the curvature of the earth.  Pre-NASA; the project was organized by the Army Air Corps and National Geographic Society. This beautiful, natural box canyon has long been acknowledged as an important part of aviation history and, although not officially a National or State site, it’s well kept by private landowners who truly love the history and have dedicated their lives to preserving it’s importance.

In honor of this special place, once a year pilots and their hot air balloons flock to the site; for those that came before us, to bring awareness to this beautiful historic site, and to help maintain it’s importance.  Annually, the event hosts approximately 10 balloons during a weather permitting ‘sunrise only’ three day organized balloon launch.

Stratobowl Historic Hot Air Balloon Launch details:

Spectators are welcome!  Because the launch location is PRIVATE PROPERTY, spectators are asked to view the launch from the Stratobowl Rim Trail. Parking is limited. Balloon launch is scheduled for sunrise. Bring a flashlight, chair and your camera. Click below for Google Map location of the trail head.  And FYI, there are no facilities or vendors at this launch, so please plan accordingly.

Would you rather FLY?  Spots are limited and reservations are required.  Call 605-673-2520 or click here to book your Stratobowl flight. Cost is $375 per adult. Flight is approximately one hour and weather permitting (but it’s so worth it!).  For more information on flying with Black Hills Balloons, check out our FAQs.

And for more information on this event and to stay up to date on weather and launch updates, please ‘like’ the Stratobowl Facebook page.

Side Note:  Some of our favorite vacation rentals are located in the stratobowl.  Click the link and visit their webpage for details.  It’s also just a special place for us here at Black Hills Balloons because we were married there.  It’s true!  It was a beautiful Spring day, with huge snowflakes falling from the sky. Read more about our beautiful Stratobowl wedding here:  It was a pretty great day.