During the winter, going downhill at a ski resort is the focus — usually at accelerated speeds. Now, it’s possible to speed down the mountain during the summer, too.
Though they’ve been popular in European mountain towns for more than a decade, these thrill-rides have only recently started gaining momentum here in the U.S. Called a mountain coaster, these rides are like cousins of theme park roller coasters. With individual cars that can fit one or two people, these don’t do loop-the-loops, but riders can set their own speed as they embark on the journey. Most are open year-round, so you can pick your season and take a different sort of ride on the same slopes that you cruise during the winter.
Here are seven of the country’s craziest mountain coasters — and a few to look forward to as well.
1. Glenwood Springs, CO – 3400 feet long
The first mountain coaster in the U.S., the alpine coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, opened in 2005. The owner, Steve Beckley, had to fly to Germany to meet with the owner of Wiegand and convince him to let the park add the ride. Located on Iron Mountain, the alpine coaster races 3,400 feet down the mountain, then returns riders back to the top, curving around pinion and juniper trees while granting jaw-dropping views.
2. Killington, VT – 4800 feet long
Open year-round, Beast Mountain Coaster is an adrenaline-packed experience. Ride alone or as a pair, twisting and turning between trees through the woods of Killington, Vermont. Riders control their own speeds, so you can choose how fast you navigate the curves and 360-degree corkscrews.
3. Bartlett, NH – 4300 feet long
The Nor’Easter Mountain Coaster, set on the mountainside at Attitash Mountain Resort, is the longest in New Hampshire. The experience begins with a scenic 1,420-foot trip straight uphill before a heart-pounding 2,880-foot descent. Twisting and winding through the forest, riders control their speed down 325 vertical feet.
4. Park City, UT – 4000 feet long
Park City Mountain is home to the longest alpine coaster in Utah at just over a mile long; it was also one of the earlier coasters built in the U.S. Winding through an aspen grove, riders travel through more than a mile of loops, curves and hair-pin curves at speeds up to 30 mph.
5. Jackson, WY – 3295 feet long
The new Cowboy Coaster at Snow King Mountain in Jackson is open for thrills, chills and incredible views of the Tetons. This coaster takes riders 456 feet up Snow King Mountain before it lets you navigate down twists and turns at a max speed of 25 miles an hour. With a ride a little less than 10 minutes long, you can enjoy this run again and again.
6. Breckenridge, CO – 2500 feet long
With 2,500 feet of coaster track, the Gold Runner Alpine Coaster at Breckenridge allows solos or doubles to hunker down in a two-seater coaster car and control the thrill through the turns, dips and twists around and above the ski runs and through the forest.
7. North Conway, NH – 2395 feet long
At Cranmore Mountain Resort, you can speed thousands of feet on their mountain coaster, twisting, turning and flying through the woods. The Coaster is comprised of 1315 feet of uphill rides and 2,390 feet of downhill track, allowing riders to hit speeds up to 25 mph. While the Coaster runs through all sorts of elements in the winter and summer, the best time to ride is during Cranmore’s haunted attraction, the Ghoullog.
New on the Scene –
Copper Mountain’s Rocky Mountain Coaster, opened in September 2017, has a vertical drop of 430 feet on an average grade of 10.9%.