A staple on the activity slate at many ski and snowboard resorts in the Rocky Mountains is the fast-chargin’, whip-turnin’ mountain coaster.
Firmly attached to dual tracks like a roller coaster, these popular rides go through all sorts of dips, waves, banked turns and loops on the way down. Typically two-seaters, the cars are boarded near the base of the resort and hauled up a straight incline before letting loose at the top. Many are open winter and summer.
SnoCountry.com took a virtual tour of mountain coasters in the Rockies and came up with these samples.
Let’s start with the longest. Steamboat’s Outlaw Mountain Coaster has 6,280 feet of track that runs next to the Christie Express in the base area. The drop is 400 vert with tracks as high as 40 feet off the ground for the 10-minute twisting ride down.
New this season is the Inferno Mountain Coaster at Purgatory. At a resort known for downhill mountain biking, the southwestern Colorado mountain now gives visitors the thrill of the descent without all the gear. Riders load at Eolus Condos for 4,000 feet and 400 vert with two 360s and nine switchbacks.
At Copper Mountain, the Rocky Mountain Coaster twists and turns its way down 5,800 feet of track alongside the American Flyer chairlift. Ride mostly runs through a stand of evergreens.
Bogus Basin has the only mountain coaster in Idaho. The Glade Runner slides down 4,330 feet through high-alpine forests at top speeds of 25 mph. Loading is near Simplot Lodge and runs near the Mountain Star chair over a half-mile of winding track – including one stomach-churning 450-degree loop.
Snow King Mountain -- one of the iconic “town hills” in the Rockies -- now has the only mountain coaster in Wyoming. The Cowboy Coaster gets as high as 43 feet off the ground, travels down 456 feet of vert, and goes as fast as 25 mph on 3,300 feet of track. The views of the town of Jackson and Tetons make the ride worth the price of admission.