National Roller Coaster Day is Thursday, August 16, a great day to scream at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park where we’re celebrating with Cliffhanger Roller Coaster thrill rides, free cake and amazing prizes.
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado is home to the world’s highest elevation roller coaster. The Cliffhanger Roller Coaster is situated at an elevation of 7,160 feet above sea level and to make it even more thrilling, the Cliffhanger overlooks a 1,450 foot cliff with views of the Colorado River below.
On Thursday, August 16, we’ll be observing National Roller Coaster Day along with theme parks across the county. The celebration festivities include free cake for park guests, prize giveaways and an annual thrill pass to the Park for two lucky winners—our 100th and 300th riders on the Cliffhanger Coaster. For a screaming good time, make plans to join us for a day of topsy-turvy fun. Read more about the history of this unusual national holiday below.
When roller coaster enthusiasts in the 1980s decided to establish a National Roller Coaster Day, they looked back to Aug. 16, 1887, when Gnonen H. Chadeayne of Buffalo, N.Y. received a patent for “a new and useful Improvement in Toboggans…which are mounted upon rollers, and designed more particularly for coasting indoors or during the summer months.” He had come up with guide rollers to keep the toboggan from hitting the sides of the track.
It wasn’t the earliest patent for a coaster-related ride—that was in 1869 for an “artificial sliding hill”—and the first commercial roller coaster in the United States (not counting the coal-carrying Mauch Chunk Gravity Railway in Pennsylvania that had been turned into a joyride) had been running on Coney Island since June 16, 1884. LaMarcus Thompson built that coaster based on designs by Richard Knudsen, who got his patent for the “Inclined-Plane Railway” on Jan. 1, 1878. But Aug. 16 became the date.
“A lot of people say, ‘Why don’t you change it to a Saturday?’ It’s Aug. 16,” explains Roy Brashears, who manages a National Roller Coaster Day website, Facebook page, and Twitter. He also designs a new commemorative T-shirt every year.
“This event doesn’t belong to any one group,” says Brashears, one of four founders of the American Coasters Enthusiasts that has grown to more than 5,000 members since 1977. He is semi-retired after working for 22 years at Hersheypark in Pennsylvania. Some parks participate by offering a free, discount or charity-related admission to their park on Aug. 16. Others might give a prize for riding all of their coasters. The Facebook page keeps track of activities, and its 3,000 members can indicate where they’ll celebrate the day.
At Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, National Roller Coaster Day is a great day to scream. Regular park admission applies on Aug. 16, National Roller Coaster Day.