A Bit About Us


Wild West Balloon Adventures was started in 1998 by Ian Cox, a longtime Steamboat local.  Ian began flying balloons in the Yampa Valley in 1982.  Originally from England, he moved to Steamboat in 1979.  With his passion for the outdoors and an entrepreneur’s mindset, ballooning was the perfect fit for him.  Shortly after starting Wild West, Ian bought Pegasus Balloon Tours, and successfully operated both businesses with his wife Shelley for two decades.  After a few years on the crew, Bud Whitehead began flying balloons with Ian in 2011.  He and his wife Stacia bought the business on January 1st, 2018. To this day, you will still see both the “Wild West” and “Pegasus” balloons flying over the Steamboat valley.

Meet The Team

Bud Whitehead - Owner at Wild West Balloon Adventures


Owner | Head Pilot

Bud Whitehead moved to Steamboat in the summer of 1999.  At the time, he was studying recreation management and tourism at Arizona State University. He decided to spend the summer in Steamboat to beat the Phoenix desert heat and get some work experience at a hotel.  He loved the Steamboat lifestyle, came for a second summer, and then moved to Steamboat full-time after graduation.

After spending about 10 years in the local hotel industry, Bud decided it was time for a change.  Seeing the balloon in the sky from time to time inspired his curiosity and he called Ian, the owner of the balloon company to see if there were any open positions.  The next day Bud was an official member of the balloon ground crew.

After a couple exciting years of part time balloon chasing, Bud and Ian decided it was time for Bud to take his ballooning to the next level and start flying.  Bud logged his first flying hours in 2011, and now has over 1,000 hours of flight experience above Steamboat.

He and his wife Stacia bought the business from Ian and Shelley on Jan. 1st, 2018.  When Bud is not flying the balloon, he loves to play sand volleyball, mountain bike, camp, ski, and spend as much time as he can with his wife and daughter.

Stacia Whitehead - Owner at Wild West Balloon Adventures


Owner | Marketing Director

Stacia grew up in Steamboat, getting to build snow sculptures for winter carnival and watching the balloon festival launch from the meadows during the 90s.  After graduating from Colorado Christian University in Denver, she spent a few years in Seattle.  But needing a good dose of sunshine and missing the allure of Steamboat, she moved back in 2005 and is happy to call this her forever home.

After working with the Orthopedic team in the operating room at Yampa Valley Medical Center as an Orthopedic Sales Consultant for 11 years, she made the decision to join the ballooning world once she and her husband, Bud bought the balloon business.

Stacia is the marketing guru for the business, and makes her world famous muffins for each flight. She and Bud were happy to announce the birth of their daughter, Emma in September of 2018.

Like Bud, she loves to play sand volleyball, mountain bike and camp, but prefers snowboarding over skiing.  She also loves yoga and spends as much time as she can with Bud and Emma.

Our Crew

Kevin Carty – Crew Chief

Pete Mays

Mike Bush

Lucas Sherman

“What people are saying about us”

  • star rating  An excellent experience, you should definitely do this if you are in steamboat! Bud was an excellent pilot and we had great views of the valley.

    June 27, 2022

    star rating  Excellent operation, crew morale was awesome. Personally I liked the smoothness of the transitions (takeoff and landing) demonstrated a lot of skill. The height and views were spectacular, calm and... read more

    June 23, 2022

    star rating  My girlfriend has been talking about doing a ride on a hot air balloon as long as I can remember. We came in to town for a quick trip and... read more

    June 22, 2022
  • star rating  We had a great time on our balloon flight. We were a little uncertain at first if we would be able to go as there was some fog about,... read more

    June 17, 2022

    star rating  you guys love what you do and that carries over to the customers. Would definitely recommend to everyone i see.

    June 16, 2022

    star rating  Amazing experience well worth the money! Very knowledgeable tour guide and crew that ensure we had a safe flight and landing!

    June 7, 2022
  • star rating  Bud and his crew were extremely entertaining and knowledgeable. Great views and a soft landing. What more could you ask for.

    June 7, 2022

    star rating  Everything was great- from beginning to the end!!! Thank you Bud, for all your knowledge of the area and overall making it a great and memorable experience!

    June 3, 2022

    star rating  An amazing experience with Bud and his crew! The views of the entire valley were breathtaking. Bud did an amazing job piloting the balloon, making sure everyone had the opportunity... read more

    June 3, 2022
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