Snow-covered mountains aren’t just for skiers and snow boarders.
In a new twist to the traditional roller coaster, several ski resorts across the country have opened year-round mountain coasters -- bobsled-like cars set on tubular rails.
Using the slope's natural height, angles and curves they rocket sledders downhill at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.
Take everything exciting about roller coasters-- the electrifying speed, tight turns and loop-de loops--and add beautiful rolling hills of some of the nation’s most magnificent mountains to its backdrop.
The new attraction, which originated in Europe, not only offers a different type of excitement to thrill- seekers, but during the winter months, also provides an option for non-skiers who may be tagging along on a trip.
“Today, ski resorts are investing big money to build off-mountain attractions for travelers of all stripes,“ said Dan Sherman, director of marketing at Ski.com. “By offering visitors alternative things to do, such as alpine coasters, they have created a new revenue stream during spring, summer and fall off seasons as well as during the winter,” Sherman added.
The ride might be mistaken for the popular alpine slides. Mountain coasters, like alpine slides seat one or two passengers at a time, but they ride on rails as opposed to a smooth track. This gives the ride more maneuverability. Mountain coasters also come with hand breaks on the side to give riders the ability to control their own speed.
So where can you find these mountain coasters?
Holiday Valley Mountain: Ellicottville, N.Y.
Hidden in the hills of upstate New York, Holiday Valley is one of the latest resorts to jump on the mountain coaster band-wagon. With an impressive 2,490 foot descent down a thrilling path of 15 curves, 12 waves and 2 jumps, riders of all ages come to enjoy this new attraction.
Dennis Eshbaugh, Holiday Valley Mountain president, says they’ve had riders as young as 3 years old and as old as 85 rave about their new ride.
“Because they can control the speed of the car guests can choose to take a leisurely tour through the woods or go at top speed for more excitement,” Esbaugh told FoxNews.com.
Opened: Aug. 20, 2011
Cost of single ride: $6
Okemo Mountain Resort: Ludlow, Vt.
After battling the wrath of Hurricane Irene, Vermont ski resorts are back in business and ready for their familiar crowds in the upcoming fall and winter seasons. The Okemo Mountain coaster, located in its Jackson Gore base area, starts with a 1600-foot climb. The coaster can take about 500 riders per hour on a five minute descent that drives past breath-taking views of the Green Mountain railroad and a rushing mountain stream.
“We recognize the greatest potential for growth in what we have previously considered the off-season, when many more people are visiting Vermont for summer adventure and the spectacular fall foliage our state is famous for,” Okemo president Tim Mueller told FoxNews.com.
Opened: December 23rd, 2010
Cost: $13 a ride for drivers, $9 for passengers
Attitash Mountain: Bartlett, N.H.
One of the original resorts to install an alpine slide in 1976, Attitash Mountain resort continued to expand its off-season attractions. Since then, Attitash has added a Eurobungy trampoline, climbing wall, mountain biking trails and horseback riding. Its newest addition, the Nor’Easter Mountain Coaster, has been a successful attraction to its visitors and to the resort.
“Having just opened last Thanksgiving, it was an added revenue source complimenting winter lift ticket sales…and visits were up about 10 percent over the prior 2010 summer for the peak period,” Thomas Prindle, Attitash Mountain director of marketing told FoxNews.com.
Integrated in with the mountain’s forested terrain, the coaster takes riders through a 2,880-foot ride of curves, dips and straight-aways, and a 316 feet vertical drop.
Tia Tran of Connecticut went down the coaster this past summer. “The coaster was a lot of fun, the only reason I went was because of peer pressure from my boyfriend, but it was worth it! After we got off I wanted to get on it again, it was great!”
Opened: November 24th, 2010
Cost of single ride: fall $15 and winter $12
Cranmore Mountain Resort: North Conway, N.H.
Just a quick 15-minute drive from Attitash Mt. and in the quaint town of North Conway (also famous for its shopping outlets), the Cranmore Mountain resort opened northern New England’s first mountain coaster. The coaster ride features two double helixes and incredible views of Mount Washington and the Presidential Range.
“Cranmore Mountain has been a mainstay of the tourism business in North Conway since it opened in 1937…with its location in the four-season resort town, Cranmore was a logical place to put a mountain coaster as it could be run year-round,” Cranmore’s marketing director, Kathy Bennett said.
In addition to the coasters usual appeal, in October the mountain coaster will receive a Halloween-themed makeover in what the resort is calling a “Haunted coaster ride.”
Opened: November 20th, 2010
Cost of single ride: $ 9
Park City Mountain Resort- Park City, Ut.
Marked the second Alpine coaster to open in the U.S, Park City Mountain Resort debuted more than five years ago. The Alpine coaster rides down more than a mile long trail of scenic turns and twists. Park insiders say the best times to go are after a big snowfall when the snowbanks around the coaster pile up. The mounted snow creates an atmosphere that makes riders feel like they are zipping through a tunnel of snow. “Our Coaster is enormously popular during both the winter and summer seasons. It's the only ride of its kind in Utah, and has become a signature attraction at Park City Mountain Resort,” Jenni Smith, Park City Mt resort’s president and general manager told FoxNews.com.
Opened: August 28th, 2006
Cost of single ride: $20 riders 5 4” or taller / $7 riders under 5 4”
There are other ski resorts catching on to the mountain coaster trend, which include Jiminy Peak in Massachusetts, Maryland’s Wisp Resort, Spirit Mountain in Minnesota and Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado.
And its fun for the whole family.
“The biggest thrill was being able to do something with my little cousin on the mountain,” said Frank Marra of New Jersey who drove up to Okemo with his family.
“Since we don’t get to see each other much due to different ski/boarding levels it was something really fun that we could both do together.”