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Nelson's butte

Nelson's Butte is a WSW-facing hike-and-fly ridge flown mainly in the evenings. It’s a popular site for the locals as it is located just south of town. The steep face offers wonderful ridge soaring, evening glass-offs, and occasional thermals. If you find yourself above the ridge you can head north or south to adjacent buttes that also offer nice soaring. Our club mascot* may sometimes be spotted on warm summer evenings sunning himself atop the ridge. This site is a minimum P2/H2 site.


Please CONTACT A CLUB MEMBER before visiting any flying sites.

Updated 5/8/2023

Operating Parameters: Ideal wind direction 240-300deg. Wind strength: min 0mph/max 20mph; ideal 8mph.

Minimum required glide ratio: 3.1


This site is a short 5-10 minute drive south from town on Hwy 89. Park at Lower Valley Energy. The power plant may look intimidating from the parking lot, but as you reach the trailhead you’ll find that the power lines are easily avoidable. The trail starts on the north side of the power plant from the parking lot.


The main launch is located roughly ¾ the way up to the ridgetop. Due to heavy use in recent years, our hiking trail to launch is nicely developed. If there is enough wind, savvy pilots can kite or bench up without hiking all the way to launch. First-timers and novice/intermediate pilots are advised to use the main launch as it has a wind sock, and is clear of most potential line-snagging vegetation. This is a steep sidehill launch; proficient ground handling skills are required for getting off the hill safely. Ensure that your lines are laid out cleanly to avoid snagging sage or dead branches upon inflation, and be prepared to check your glider firmly in moderate winds: your wing will likely come up overhead rapidly due to the steep slope and acceleration of wind up the ridge face.


There are a few landing options at Nelsons. The most popular and conservative option is to land near the bottom of the ridge where the terrain flattens out. Scope out the streamer placed just off the hiking trail on your way up- it makes a great target for spotting your landing. If you want to avoid the slight slope, there’s a flatter area a bit further downslope (to the west). The one crux with this landing option is avoiding the power lines that border the north and east end of it. There is some uneven terrain and gopher holes, as well as a plethora of bushes that like to grab onto your wing.


  • Power plant/lines. The lines run along the base of the butte parallel to the face. We recommend staying east of them throughout your flight unless you get higher than the ridgetop. The power plant is quite obvious to spot and avoid.

  • Stronger winds aloft above the ridge. Review the winds aloft forecast before launching to know what to anticipate.

  • Venturi north and south of the butte. Winds accelerate through gaps and canyons, which will slow your ground speed- don’t get pinned!

  • This site is closed from Dec. 1st - April 30th due to critical wildlife habitat.

*Naked Nel merch coming to a free flight club near you for Summer 2023?!

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