Introduction to Flying Sites in the Southwest

All pilots must carefully study the weather forecasts (especially the raw balloon data) that are available on the front page of this web site before flying in this  region.  Your safety depends on it.  You can study our introduction to southwest weather if you need help.

It is important to note that overhead disturbances, thermal activity, and the Jet Stream can greatly affect our flying in the region.  Thermals and atmospheric disturbances can cause the Jet to mix down to the surface and cause dangerous sheer turbulence.  If you see any gusting in the hourly forecasts and the Jet is overhead, our experience is: stay on the ground – unless you want to rock and roll.  In general, it is best to stay on the ground if there is any gusting in the forecasts.  A solid inversion way overhead, however, will protect us from what is going on above.

Here are some suggestions.
Dry Canyon is our most consistently good site.  It is a better hang gliding than paragliding site because of the intense thermals that drift up the canyon.  The PG launch at Dry is a 15 minute hike south of the main HG launch.  The downside of Dry is that it is minimum of 40 minutes to drive to launch.
If winds are east:  We suggest Anapra.  Anapra can be driven to but a guide is necessary as we have to pass through private land to get to launch.  Alternately, if you drive to the LZ out in front, you can hike up the hill and will not have to pass through private land.
If winds are southwesterly or west: Kilbourne Hole maar works well.  Agave Hill is a 12 minute hike.  Agave has a safer launch but does not work as well when winds are light.  Lee's is virtually guaranteed getting up and out in the Franklins if you can get off launch safely.  Mt. Riley is workable with winds from north to east to southwest.  Southeast is best.
If the winds are weak to moderate from any direction:  Nelsons is a 40 minute hike to the top but if conditions are weak everywhere, it is a guaranteed flight with a tremendous view and the ability to stay up until dark (even in weak conditions) because of thermals merging southwest of the peak.  Always check winds aloft at 9K’ to be sure that they are under 18 mph in order to safely launch!
We ask that all visiting pilots donate a few bucks to the RGSA to help us keep our sites safe and accessible.  Thanks so much!

Turkey Vulture