One of the best ways to take in North Carolina's incredibly beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains is by roller coaster -- the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster, to be exact. The first alpine coaster in the state will take you down 2,390 feet of tracks at up to 27 miles per hour, twisting and twirling above the Sugar Mountain Ski Resort. This is an exciting addition for the Banner Elk area, considering there are only about 30 total alpine coasters in the entire country.
Alpine coasters are different from your typical roller coaster because they use the descent down the mountain to create its speed on the tracks. Army veteran Eric Bechard and his wife Tara are the owners and operators of the roller coaster with their daughter Ashley Brown helping with marketing and customer service. The military family was inspired to make the coaster after spending time overseas.
"You can go slow and take it all in, or you can go fast for a thrill," Brown told WTVD. "My parents retired in the area and wanted to bring an attraction for individuals already up in the area for families to do in their downtime. We rode these when we were stationed in Germany and fell in love with them."
For $16 per rider, you can either ride solo or in a two-person cart. Right now, the coaster is only welcoming visitors who book a reserved spot ahead of time. Be sure to check in with their Facebook page to see their official public opening date. For now, if you're local to the area, be sure to book your reservation on the coaster's website.
This story first ran on June 10, 2020.