Popular Mechanics; Hersheypark
From heights towering over 450 feet to drops over 400 feet and speeds nearing 130 miles per hour, America is packed with insanely fun—and just plain whacky—roller coasters. So, we scoured the country far and wide to find the best roller coasters in the U.S.
Sadly, not every state has a coaster to call its own. For those states, we’ve selected a local thrill ride that’s just as breathtaking as the rest of the bunch. So sit back, strap in, and let the wooden or steel track take you on the ride of your life.
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Sitting two abreast, this original 1998 coaster has new life in Alabama. The 120-foot-tall wooden Rampage sat dormant for years, but in 2015, Alabama Splash Adventure reopened the refurbished twister that sends riders on a 3,500-foot-long ride with speeds up to 55 miles per hour and a drop of 102 feet.
Alaska: Icy Strait Point Zipline
With no permanent roller coaster in Alaska, we turn to the Icy Strait Point Zipline and its ability to send visitors 60 miles per hour during a 90-second course. Ready to zoom down 1,300 feet at a 24-degree vertical drop while racing up to five parallel lines at the same time?
At Castles ‘N Coasters, riders can speed up to 50 miles per hour and drop 85 feet while experiencing a pair of inversions on Desert Storm. The looping steel track gets as high as 90 feet as riders sitting side-by-side experience the tallest thrill in Arizona.
Gaining speeds of 65 miles per hour, riders invert on the steel coaster that reaches heights of 152 feet on the 492-foot-long track—and it’s one of the few coasters that does inversions without shoulder restraints. The coaster sends you straight up from the start before a backward quarter-loop hangs you upside down ahead of a complete corkscrew and speedy vertical drop.
With dozens of permanent roller coasters peppering the state, X2 at Six Flags Magic Mountain may not hold all the tallest and fastest titles, but it does offer something different in its design. The 3,610-foot-long steel coaster places riders in cars that independently rotate on either side of the track, keeping everyone guessing during 215-foot drops, 88.5-degree descent angles, inversions, twisting front flips, back flips, and crazy turns. Did we mention this all takes place at 76 miles per hour?
Apologies to the nation’s highest-elevation roller coaster, Cliffhanger, and to the six upside-down experiences of Boomerang at Elitch Gardens. The winner is the tallest coaster in the state, the wooden Twister II ride at Elitch Gardens. It offers the craziest drop—80 feet with 3.1 Gs of force across a 4,640-foot ride that reaches 55 miles per hour.
Based on the design of the Mr. Twister ride at the same park, expect plenty of twists and turns—and even a tunnel—before the drop.
Connecticut: Boulder Dash
Don’t mind the cliffs of Southington Mountain, the home of Boulder Dash. This uniquely-designed wooden coaster hides in the mountain foliage, so when the 115-foot drop comes flying off a cliff, not only do you get the thrill of the drop, but the surprise of the cliff.
In all, the 4,752-foot-long coaster tracks at 60 miles per hour and uses the mountainside to hide much of the upcoming thrill.
Delaware: Superflip 360
Funland may not have a roller coaster at its Delaware location, but the Superflip 360 hangs riders and then swings them in a full rotation of 360 degrees (not just a clever name) at a height of 40 feet.
Billed as the tallest, fastest, and longest roller coaster in Orlando, the Sea World attraction named after a shark carries riders 4,760 feet at speeds up to 73 miles per hour. Reaching 200 feet in height— and with a drop to match—this coaster certainly has the height and speed to create fear. Just like a shark.
Georgia: Twisted Cyclone
Built upon the Georgia Cyclone coaster, this wood-and-steel hybrid at Six Flags Over Georgia offers up three inversions while dropping 100 feet at a 75-degree angle. With speeds of 50 miles per hour over 2,400 feet, the Cyclone 2.0 improves upon the original’s drop height, hills, and declines.
A few zipline options await in Hawaii, but heading to the north shore of Maui offers seven different lines with heights of 70 feet and speeds up to 40 miles per hour. With a 900-foot-long line included in the mix from the NorthShore Zipline Co., expect an experience that’s both beautiful and zippy.
Silverwood Theme Park offers the state’s bounty of roller coasters. While the park features some fun oldies, such as Tremors, Aftershock offers the tallest coaste—over 190 feet—and includes a drop of 177 feet while running 65 miles per hour. Add in the backward ascent, six inversions, and loops—and then doing it all again in reverse—and there’s plenty to offer in northern Idaho.
The drop of Goliath at Six Flags Great America runs 180 feet and continues underground. The 72 miles per hour reached on this wooden coaster creates plenty of speed, along with an inverted zero-G stall, banked turns, and a tunnel that keeps what was once a world-record-holding wooden roller coaster still in the game.
At 6,442 feet, The Voyage at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari offers 1.2 miles of ride that boasts 24.2 seconds of “air time.” With five underground tunnels, drops up to 154 feet at 66 degrees of angle, crossovers, and banking while topping 65 miles per hour, there’s plenty to enjoy in the length of ride that has been named one of the top wooden coaster rides in the world.
With a 133-foot-tall roller coaster featuring an angle of descent of over 100 degrees, Monster at Adventureland boasts one of the steepest drops in the Midwest. Along with the steepness comes 2,500 feet of track that includes five inversions and crossings across the park.
Kansas: Wildwood Zipline
With seven ziplines that include a fantastic 40-foot freefall at the end, Wildwood Adventure Park gives Kansans their own special thrill ride, now that the Schlitterbahn water park has closed up the deadly, tallest waterslide in the world (and may not reopen the park at all).
Terror to the Third Degree at Kentucky Kingdom suspends and loops across 2,172 feet of track, offering five inversions at 50 miles per hour. The suspended style of T3 improves on T2’s train design and places riders on steel track 102 feet high, with drops of 86 feet.
Louisiana: Ragin’ Cajun
A backward climb helps build anticipation for the 5.2 Gs of force that comes from a 125-foot drop at Dixie Landin’. Sure, it’s only 875 feet in length, but that doesn’t mean Ragin’ Cajun skimps on inversions, with six total during the ride.
In a state not known for roller coasters, the state’s only big-time wooden coaster reaches 100 feet in height and boasts 2,700 feet of track. With an 88-foot drop and speeds up to 55 miles per hour, Excalibur at Funtown Splashtown U.S.A. mixes wood with its other water rides.
Maryland: Superman: Ride of Steel
At 5,350 feet in length and a drop of 205 feet, the tallest rollercoaster in Maryland also takes riders to speeds over 70 miles per hour. Superman: Ride of Steel at Six Flags America includes plenty of hills and drops—with the air time to match—and runs for over two minutes in a mammoth display of coaster construction.
Massachusetts: Superman: The Ride
Formerly known as Bizarro, this beast at Six Flags New England boasts a drop of 221 feet in a ride over a mile long. The climb up the hill to start the ride turns into a 70-degree scream with speeds up to 77 miles per hour.
Michigan: Shivering Timbers
At just over a mile in length, Shivering Timbers at Michigan’s Adventure runs as the longest wooden roller coaster in the state. At top speeds of 65 miles per hour combined with length, the ride fits in plenty of bumps to create airtime aplenty.
Minnesota: Avatar Airbender
Inside Mall of America’s Nickelodeon Universe, the 70-foot-tall Avatar Airbender offers a halfpipe experience that spins riders all along the way.
Mississippi: All American Coaster
You only get two weeks of the All American Coaster during the Exchange Club Fair, but as the only listed permanent rollercoaster in the state, this 1974-built steel junior oval must suffice for your roller coaster needs.
Missouri: Time Traveler
This fully spinning coaster breaks records by offering three inversions and a 90-foot drop at a 90-degree angle. Noted as the tallest and fastest full-circuit spinning roller coaster, Time Traveler at Silver Dollar City certainly leaves riders wondering just where they are after all that spinning.
Montana: Little Dipper
Another junior-style design represents the only roller coaster in the state. At least you get a good view of the drive-in movie screens at the Amusement Park Drive-In.
Fun Plex once boasted the only roller coaster in the state of Nebraska, but a conversion to a water park sent the Big Ohhhh! to Colorado for a new home. This adjacent state now has a coaster that has lived in at least five different U.S. states and is known for spiraling upward.
Nevada: Canyon Blaster
Head inside for the world’s only indoor double-loop, double-corkscrew rollercoaster. Still traveling 45 miles per hour, even inside, the 76-foot drop adds to the vertical loops and corkscrews.
New Hampshire: Yankee Cannonball
Built in 1936, Yankee Cannonball gives New Hampshire’s Canobie Lake Park an old-school wooden roller coaster that sends riders along 2,000 feet of track with 63 feet of drop and up to 35 miles per hour of speed.
Considered one of the craziest rollercoasters in the nation, Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure hits 128 miles per hour—and in just 3.5 seconds—and features a 270-degree spiral. The fastest coaster in the country may not last a full minute, but with its height—the tallest in the world at 456 feet—Kingda Ka creates a wild ride unlike any other in the country.
Hurricane at Western Playland may only hit speeds of 55 miles per hour, but with 4.5 Gs during the 1,430-foot-long ride, it’s still a total thrill. Moved from Northern California, the ride also has a 30-foot drop.
With apologies to Darien Lake’s Ride of Steel, the state’s 75-mile-per-hour tallest coaster, we select Cyclone at Coney Island for the 1927 design that includes no seat dividers for plenty of side-to-side toss along the wooden track travelers enjoy at 60 miles per hour. Add in 85 feet of drop and 2,640 feet of length—along with a coaster constructed in 1927 and remodeled in 1937—and Cyclone offers a unique experience.
North Carolina: Fury 325
Topping out at 325 feet of height, this three-minute ride includes speeds of 95 miles per hour. With 6,602 feet of length creating a ride nearly three minutes and 30 seconds in length, the wild 320-foot drop isn’t the only attraction on this highly rated steel coaster.
North Dakota: Runaway Train
Okay, so this isn’t the thrill ride to end all thrill rides, but North Dakota does have a roller coaster. At the Super Slide Amusement Park, Runaway Train comes in as the only coaster in the state, which gives a little clout to the paltry 12-foot drop that reaches top speeds of 25 miles per hour.
Easily the rollercoaster capital of North America, Ohio offers up enough top-flight coasters to fill out its own top-50 list. The best of the best includes Cedar Point’s Steel Vengeance and its 30 stories of height, and Top Thrill Dragster with 420 feet of height and speeds of 120 miles per hour.
However, we can’t skip out on The Beast at Kings Island. At 110 feet tall, the attraction comes with 7,400 feet of wooden track, making it the longest wooden coaster in the world. Two lift hills take riders through the Ohio woods, and riders say a night ride brings the craziest thrills, with a two-tunnel double helix.
Oklahoma: Silver Bullet
Plenty of looping steel helps Silver Bullet at Frontier City reach speeds of nearly 50 miles per hour. Expect one inversion on a giant loop with an 80-foot drop, on a coaster that once lived at the Texas State Fair and in Maryland.
Oregon: Adrenaline Peak
Oaks Amusement Park on the Willamette River in Portland gives riders Adrenaline Peak with its 97-degree loop with three inversions. The over 1,000 feet of track takes riders at 45 miles per hour with views of the river.
In another state full of rollercoaster options, Hersheypark’s Skyrush comes with 3,600 feet of track. The coaster rises 200 feet and has an 85-degree angle when heading back down through banked curves on winged coasters—seats that extend over the edge of track sans floors—with plenty of air time and forces equal to five Gs while hitting 75 miles per hour.
Rhode Island: Water Wizz Speed Slide
Hit the water in Rhode Island at the Water Wizz of Westerly park for a mix of waterslides. The thrill-lovers’ choice will certainly be the 50-foot-tall speed slide, designed to rocket riders into a pool below where the park challenges riders to compete against their friends to see who can skid across the water the farthest.
South Carolina: Swamp Fox
Opened in 1966, this wooden roller coaster at Family Kingdom runs for 2,640 feet—at times 72 feet high—and hits speeds of 50 miles per hour while twisting and turning through the park.
South Dakota: Mountain Coaster
The Black Hills near Mount Rushmore has added a bit of a thrill for visitors to Rush Mountain Adventure Park: the state’s lone coaster. With individually controlled cars, engineers have given riders more control. Each car’s own break allows roller coaster rookies to pull on the break and slow at turns, but for those interested in all the rush possible, no action is needed.
The winged coaster design debuted in Tennessee with Dollywood’s Wild Eagle, allowing riders to hang out over the track with nothing but air below. While there are faster rides at the park—here’s looking at you, Lightning Rod—Wild Eagle still has 210 feet of height and four inversions over the 3,127-foot-long route that includes a 135-foot drop.
Titan, at Six Flags Over Texas, kicks things off with a 250-foot drop and then back-to-back 540-degree spirals. And, oh, it all runs at 85 miles per hour and over three minutes. With forces up to 4.5 Gs and one of the largest drops in the country, Titan stands out in a coaster-filled state.
The 70 miles an hour of Cannibal at Lagoon Amusement Park includes a 116-degree free-fall into an underground tunnel. Yeah, that’s wild. With four inversions over 2,735 feet of coaster, that beyond-vertical drop takes the cake.
Vermont: Beast Mountain Coaster
Twists, turns and 4,800 feet of alpine terrain line the Beast Mountain Coaster at Killington. The ride includes a 360-degree corkscrew, and with a unique sled-like design, riders enjoy the open air without an enclosure. Winter gear and goggles come recommended.
Virginia: Intimidator 305
First you have speeds of 90 miles per hour, and then you get a drop of 300 feet at an 85-degree angle. And it all comes at you fast, right out of the gate, before hanging around for 5,100 feet, which includes plenty of air time with twists and turns at high speed. Ranked one of the top coasters in the country, Intimidator 305 lives up to its name.
Washington: The Wild Thing
Enjoy the double corkscrew and drop of 64 feet at The Wild Thing in Washington’s Wild Waves Theme and Water Park. The steel ride lasts over 1,500 feet and includes three inversions—two in the corkscrew style—while traveling at over 40 miles per hour.
West Virginia: Big Dipper
Consider the Big Dipper a classic. The figure-eight layout runs 1,800 feet and includes a tunnel. Still operating with original NAD Century Flyer trains, the coaster reaches 45 feet in height.
Go dark for 800 feet in the world’s longest rollercoaster tunnel at Mt. Olympus Water Park and Theme Park Resort. Prepare for speeds up to 70 miles per hour, a 360-degree loop, a 140-foot drop, a 90-degree underground turn, and yet another tunnel.
Wyoming: Cowboy Coaster
Snow King Mountain has plenty of natural terrain to take a coaster up easily. But it’s the heading down part that offers the thrill. The Cowboy Coaster weaves through the trees for a 465-foot vertical rise before heading back down the four stories with twists and turns.
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