Posted by Darryl Payne in Outdoor Adventure
Ready to see the mountains in a thrilling new way? Ride the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster.
Built by Wiegand Sports, this 3,937-foot-long ride was the first mountain coaster constructed in the Smoky Mountains. Today, although it's not yet five years old, it's one of the most popular attractions in the Smokies.
It's also one of the longest alpine coasters in America, with over one mile of track twisting and turning through spectacular mountain scenery.
If you're used to regular roller coasters, you'll find that this one's very different. For starters, it's designed to combine heart-pounding thrills with eye-popping scenic views. And, unlike standard coasters, it has individual carts – similar to bobsleds – each seating one to two people.
Once you're safely strapped in with your seat belt, a super-strong lift cable pulls your cart up the side of the mountain. When you reach the top, your cart is released, and you start racing down the stainless-steel rail, impelled by the force of gravity.
It's a dramatic descent, full of white-knuckle thrills. But never fear: You control your speed, thanks to your cart's convenient hand brakes. (Each cart also has a special magnetic brake that keeps it from going too fast.)
To travel at maximum speed (about 27 miles per hour), simply hold down the lever of your hand brake. To slow down, lift the lever up. Either way, you'll have plenty of excitement, thanks to the track's constant twists and turns. But rest assured there are no terrifying drops or loops that might frighten small children or seniors. This ride is designed to delight your entire family.
The full trip takes about seven to eight minutes. Along the way, you'll roll through lush woods and meadows, plunge down mountain slopes, wind along sheer cliffs, cross elevated bridges, and enjoy stunning aerial views.
At night, the coaster sparkles with thousands of brilliant LED lights, giving you a magical glimpse of the starlit landscape as you speed around bends and curves.
Kids as young as three can ride the Alpine Coaster, as long as they're accompanied by an adult. Solo riders must be at least 56 inches tall (4.5 feet). When two people ride together, the one controlling the cart must be at least 16 years old and 56 inches tall. (The other person must be at least 38 inches tall – 3.1 feet.) The maximum height allowed is 7 feet, and the maximum weight is 375 pounds per cart (330 in wet weather).
Open 365 days a year, the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster is located at 867 Wears Valley Road in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
The Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster launched its first ride on August 3, 2013. Since then, three more mountain coasters have sprung up in the Tennessee Smokies: the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster, the Ski Mountain Coaster at Ober Gatlinburg, and the Coaster at Goats on the Roof (1341 Wears Valley road, Pigeon Forge).
If you've never been to Goats on the Roof, you're in for a special treat. This famous emporium literally has – you guessed it – goats on the roof. Five live goats roam around on the rooftop, while visitors watch them through special windows and provide them with tasty goat chow (available at the gift shop).
Along with goats and gifts, Goats on the Roof offers authentic Smoky Mountain souvenirs plus luscious homemade fudge and ice cream. It even has a kid-pleasing gem mine stocked with rare precious stones. And, since January 2015, it also has its own alpine coaster, winding along 4,375 feet of secure steel track.
Like the Smoky Mountain Coaster, Goats on the Roof's thrill ride rushes along at a top speed of 27 mph. Each comfortable cart (seating one to two people) provides adjustable hand brakes, so you can slow down if you're nervous, plus an emergency automatic brake that prevents excess speeding. The mile-long route offers panoramic views of mountains, woodlands, and valleys – a unique, wide-open vista you won't see anywhere else. And all along the way, the track dips and twists for adrenaline-pumping excitement.
As with similar rides, age, height, and weight restrictions apply, and kids must be accompanied by adults. But relax... this family-friendly adventure is safe, fun, and enjoyable for everyone, from tots to grandparents.
Of course, alpine coasters are just part of the appeal of the legendary Tennessee Smokies. The entire Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge area offers fun-filled attractions galore, along with world-class restaurants, exclusive shops, dazzling live entertainment, and more. Depending on the time of year, there are fairs and festivals, crafts shows and music shows, gala events and holiday extravaganzas. And it's all set amid the natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Why delay? Pack your bags, gather your family, and head to the Smokies today!
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