Alpine Coasters: Letting Nature Take Its Course

Alpine coasters, including the one at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, follow the terrain for scenic rider-controlled downhills.

Alpine coasters have become a popular attraction at ski resorts and amusement parks since they were developed in the mid-1990s as a rail-riding successor to Alpine slides that had been around since the 1970s. Alpine coasters have been built in 12 countries, from Switzerland to New Zealand and Jamaica to Vietnam, as well as 16 states. The longest is Tobotronc in Naturlandia in Andorra—5.3 kilometers with a drop of 400 meters and a ride that can last nearly 10 minutes. The highest is at Glacier 3000, a one-kilometer ride that starts at 2,970-meter elevation and can reach speeds of 25 mph on its two-minute descent.

Unlike traditional roller coasters that build their own hills, Alpine coasters take advantage of the natural terrain’s slope, usually built close to the ground except for bridging. Alpine coasters are the only amusement park ride controlled by the rider. One or two people sit in the car, and a hand brake regulates the speed. The settings often offer breathtaking views—Tobotronc runs through the La Rabassa forest—and some riders prefer to take a more leisurely sightseeing pace.

The one-kilometer Alpine Coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, ranked No. 1 by, was the first of its kind in the United States. Colorado’s slopes naturally make it a leading site for Alpine coasters, with highly-ranked rides in Vail and Steamboat Springs. In addition to Rocky Mountain states such as Wyoming and Utah and Appalachian Mountain states from Vermont to Georgia, Alpine coasters are found in South Dakota, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Missouri.

Add a Play Day at this Mountain-top Park to Your Colorado Ski Trip

Ride the Alpine Coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park
Ride the Alpine Coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Add even more mountain-top adventure to your family ski trip with a scheduled play day at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado

It’s March and that means spring skiing in Colorado has arrived! People around the country are packing their mens ski helmet , ski boots, and goggles ready to hit the slopes. A month when visitors will be pouring in for a final opportunity to schuss the state’s fabled slopes before they close. Located in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, near seven ski resorts, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is an ideal destination for a one-day, one-off spring break adventure. It’s America’s only mountain-top theme park.

Whether you’re skiing at Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, Snowmass, Sunlight Mountain Resort, Beaver Creek or Vail, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is within an hour’s drive of all of them. As exhilarating as a week of skiing can be, midway through you may be ready for a break from the lift lines and crowds.

Since you’re already in the vicinity, why not add another Colorado peak experience to your itinerary – a day at the Park – Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. Named by Elevation Outdoors as Colorado’s Best Kid-Friendly Outdoor Destination of 2016, the Adventure Park is just the ticket for families and any non-skiers in the group.

Over spring break, many of the Adventure Park’s rides will be open including the Alpine Coaster, the Soaring Eagle Zip ride, and — weather permitting — the Giant Canyon Swing that launches riders out over scenic Glenwood Canyon. With a 4D motion theater, a Western-themed laser tag arena, scenic gondola rides from the valley floor to the top of the mountain and awe-inspiring cave tours; it all adds up to an epic day of thrilling fun and adventure for the entire family.

Compared to a day on the slopes, where a single lift ticket can run close to a couple hundred dollars, the Adventure Park is also a money-saver for families. At just $40 per adult and $35 for kids 3 – 12, a family of four can spend a day spring at the park — and enjoy lunch — for less than $200. Lunch options at the Lookout Grille include daily specials, burgers and hot sandwiches, vegetarian options, appetizers, kids’ meals and more. The Adventure Park is open daily. Hours are Monday – Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Your Colorado ski trip is coming up soon; carve out some time to spend a day at the Park. Buy tickets and find out more by visiting today.