Balloons Above the Valley uses state-of-the-art Hot Air Balloons and hot air ballooning equipment. Our reservation staff is #1 in customer service and adds value to your next trip to Napa Valley. Balloons Above the Valley values our client's time and privacy.

Hot Air Balloons in Napa Valley float almost silently above the trees, hillsides, fields, and vineyards. You will see the Napa Valley wine country in a way that ground-bound travelers never will. Napa Valley hot air balloon rides are one of the most exhilarating experiences you will ever enjoy. Your hot air balloon rises with the roar of the burners and then floats in silence, drifting with the wind as your overlook wine country's majestic landscape. You won't feel the wind; you are a part of it - barely realizing you're moving. This Napa hot air balloon flight experience with Balloons Above the Valley includes:

  • pick up and return services to your hotel or bed & breakfast are available;
  • an hour flight narrated by your pilot;
  • certificate of ascension; and,
  • a Champagne Brunch overlooking the Napa River.

Book your Napa Valley Hot Air Balloon flight soon - Balloons Above the Valley's hot air balloon flight schedule tends to fill up quickly. After all, Napa Valley and the surrounding wine country is one of the premiere locations for hot air ballooning in the United States.

Old Faithful Gyser

Come visit the show of California's Old Faithful Geyser, a spectacular, nature-directed performance. The stage, walled by thick bamboo and plumed pampas grass, appears as an innocent pool of shallow water until time for the major attraction. Uprising steam and bubbling hot water announce the geyser. Then, while Mount Saint Helena and the craggy Palisades mountains stand silent as backdrops, Old Faithful Geyser of California throws a tower of thousands of gallons of water skyward.

In the heart of the wine country, experience the
wonders of nature's geysers and the mineral waters and spas that have become destinations for millions of world wide travelers. The Old Faithful Geyser of California is one of three geysers in the world with the designation “old faithful.” These are the geysers that perform at regular intervals. Visit Old Faithful Geyser

It has been said that the scenery in the Napa Valley is so amazing it's ridiculous. Mountains and rolling hills covered with graceful, pastoral vineyards define the area. Calistoga is the Napa Valley in its most pure form. Much of the Valley has become more commercial – outlet and strip malls are starting to become common. But Calistoga still retains its rural, vintage feel.

The town looks like fun before you even enter it. As you're driving along Highway 29, charming looking bed & breakfasts, cottages for rent and other accommodations start to appear. Vintage shop signs start popping up, and you realize you're not in the technology driven world anymore. This is backwoods Napa. Backwoods Napa means ruggedly beautiful but still catering to tourists.

Besides dozens of vineyards and wineries great and small, Calistoga has a climate warm enough to sustain lushly fronded palm trees – the kind with the thick trunks. Many lovely old bungalows have front yards overflowing with the most colorful flowers. And there are parks and hiking trails full of breathtaking sites. What's more is, the town's main street, Lincoln Avenue, ends with the breathtaking view of Mount St. Helena. The view gives you the feel of being in a Swiss mountain town.

Calistoga has plenty of attractions to make outdoorsy types swoon. And any visitor – no matter what their taste in entertainment – should take time to discover the great outdoors in this lovely area.

Calistoga locals say the most impressive attraction in town is Venetian artist Carlo Marchiori's home tour. Indeed, it is certainly a strange and wonderful experience. You first need to visit the Ca'Toga Galleria D'Arte on Lincoln Avenue to purchase tickets. If the gallery isn't open, the number to call and website to visit for tickets are both posted on the door. Tours run on Saturday mornings from May through October.

Once you purchase tickets, you drive to Carlo's house, which is about a two miles from the gallery. It's just past the residential part of town. Here's another strange but beautiful vision in the middle of wine country: A Mediterranean-looking villa is situated among real Roman ruins, archways, columns and statues. The artist must have had these imported from Europe; they definitely did not come from California! Palm trees, other warm-weather plants, and even a seashell encrusted grotto make the grounds splendid to behold.

Once inside the house, you get a feeling for how an artist really lives: His work covers the entire house. His sunken living room is rather awe inspiring. Carlo tells you that his favorite period is the 15th century, and it's quite evident. One of his frescoes does resemble Michelangelo's work, and his themes include Greco-Pompeian mythology and Venetian Carnival. You will enjoy studying the native American room, life-size cows painted onto one bedroom's walls, and furniture made from bones and antlers. You can also see his studio from an overhead view – it's interesting to look at his works in progress, the paints and the easels.

CA'TOGA GALLERIA D'ARTE
1206 Cedar Street
Calistoga, CA 94515
707-942-3900

Hours: Thursday through Monday 11 am to 6 pm
*Marchiori Home Tours: Saturdays at 11 am May through October

Calistoga Mineral Water

During the last half of the 19th century, health addicts and holidaymakers rode in carriages and stagecoaches from San Francisco to Calistoga to bask in the hot, fizzy waters of the mineral springs. Erupting from the ground with intense carbonation and more than sixty-five minerals said to be essential for good health, the water was bottled, beginning in 1924, by Calistoga Mineral Water.

To commemorate the founding of the Calistoga Mineral Water company and to have some fun, a larger-than-life sculpture was erected on the Trail near Calistoga. At six tons, 14 feet tall and 35 feet long, it is an oversized version of the 1926 truck that the company founder and his dog, Frankie, drove over narrow dirt roads to the California State Fair in Sacramento, where his water won gold medals year after year. Today, Calistoga Water is one of the most popular bottled waters in the world.

Website: http://www.calistogawater.com/

The article on this page is adapted from the book, Backroads of the California Wine Country by Karen Misuraca ( www.karenmisuraca.com ), published by Voyageur Press.

The Petrified Forest

Transport yourself back more than three million years in time and follow the trail of majestic petrified redwood giants displayed before you in a fascinating grove in breathtaking Calistoga. Geologists call this place one of the finest examples of a pliocene fossil forest in the world. The park itself is privately owned and has been since its first proprietor started excavating the large petrified trees in 1871.

Giant redwood trees turned to stone attract thousands of visitors each year to this park in the hills. Rich in history from the late 1800s, the Petrified Forest is a showpiece of explosive volcanic activity.

Redwood trees of up to eight feet in diameter and hundreds of feet high were blown down like toothpicks in the flow of ash from a major volcano to the north and east. Then they were deeply buried by ash and preserved by replacement of organic material by fine-grained silicon and oxygen. Modern uplift and erosion has exposed the tips of the trees, and the final excavation by man results in the forest we see today.

The park itself was established in 1910 by Ollie Bockee and her family. The Petrified Forest grounds include a great museum devoted to the origin of the fossils and geology of the area. The gift shop features crystals, petrified wood and books. An admission is charged for a 20 minute walk through the natural displays. Interpretive signs at major points help visitors understand the processes that result in the preservation of these magnificent fossils. There are also picnic areas available.

THE PETRIFIED FOREST
4100 Petrified Forest Road
Calistoga, CA 94515
707-942-6667

Hours: 9 am to 6 pm daily, except during Winter
Winter: 9 am to 5 pm
http://www.petrifiedforest.org

Disney memorabilia and Robert Louis Stevenson State Park

Elaborate dioramas at the Sharpsteen Museum re-create the 1800s resort town. The museum was donated by Ben Sharpsteen, who for more than thirty years worked as a Disney animator. His Disney memorabilia is on display, plus old photos, a Victorian dollhouse, a stage coach and his Oscar.

A few miles north of Calistoga off Highway 29, in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park, steep forest trails lead to the 4,343-foot summit of Mount St. Helena. In 1880, Stevenson and his wife, Fanny, honeymooned on the mountainside, living for two months in the abandoned bunkhouse of the old Silverado silver mine––an experience that must have been a far cry from that of today's wine country honeymooners.

He described his Calistoga experience in The Silverado Squatters. And, when he wrote about Spyglass Hill in the beloved children's classic, Treasure Island, Mount St. Helena was his inspiration. On the mountaintop, views of Lake County, the Napa Valley, and on clear days, the Sierra Nevada and Mount Shasta, nearly two hundred miles away, can be dazzling. Spring and early summer are the best times to explore the park, when red Indian paintbrush, California poppies and yellow flannel bush are in full bloom. Winter days may see a little snow and chill winds; in summer and fall, temperatures reach the high nineties.


SHARPSTEIN MUSEUM
1311 Washington St
P.O. Box 573
Calistoga, CA 94515
Phone: 707 942 5911

Website: http://www.sharpsteen-museum.org/

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON STATE PARK
The park is seven miles north of Calistoga on Highway 29.

Website: http://www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=472

Safari West

A gazelle bounds gracefully across the expanse of brown grass. Nearby a scimitar-horned oryx, seemingly oblivious to the marvelously curled hardware on his head, wanders in search of a playmate, while a reticulated giraffe peers down with her Angela Lansbury-eyes and fixes you with a curious stare. If you took a photograph and showed it to a couple of world travelers, they might nod and say, “Ah, yes, I remember Kenya.”

But this isn't a scene out of Africa. It's Safari West, the Serengeti of Sonoma, where hundreds of wild animals romp in near-freedom on more than 300 acres. One of only six private zoos accredited by the American Zoological Association (AZA), Safari West was established 20+ years ago by a couple who had been involved with animals on a professional level for decades.

“I've owned animals since I was 13 years old,” says Peter, who describes himself as “the original rehabber,” drawn to rescue any animal that “flew or walked, if it was hurt or wounded”. Nancy, his wife, was the general curator of the San Francisco Zoo before moving to Sonoma and establishing this private preserve.

Between them, they have gathered more than 350 exotic, endangered and extinct-in-the-wild African mammals and birds. In the early 90's, the Langs opened their preserve, in the hills northeast of Santa Rosa, to the public. Visitors can take three hour jeep tours throughout the property.

The intent of Safari West has evolved over the years, according to Peter Lang. At first, the main focus was on education. The Langs worked with several regional schools, and they still do, to introduce schoolchildren to the joys of wildlife. “We didn't just want a touch-me, pet-me kind of experience,” he says. “We incorporated subjects such as math, English, history and art.”

You won't see any boa constrictors, or elephants or tigers, but you will see zebras, gazelles, eland, antelopes, lechwe (another horned and hoofed animal), bongo (from the Congo, the largest rain forest antelope) and herds of wildebeest and Watusi cattle. These enormous animals are considered the mother herd of all cattle; they are bigger than Texas longhorns but seem quite gentle.

Continue Your Visit to Safari West »

 

 

 

 




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