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Opening Day: May 22, 2020
The first alpine coaster in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains opened in Banner Elk in 2020. At the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster, ride the two-person carts down the mountain at speeds up to 27 MPH - complete with three 360-degree loops. They are open every day year-round, including ski season at nearby Sugar and Beech Mountains.
The 2,390 feet of tract descends through the forests via banked turns with braking controlled by the rider. So you control how fast you go. The run has plenty of curves around boulders and trees for an exciting ride - complete with the latest safety technology.
The carts are built for two people but you can go solo if you are at least 54 inches tall and 16 years old. When riding double, the passenger needs to be at least 38 inches tall. Each sled can accommodate 375 pounds on a dry track. They run rain, snow or shine!
The entire ride up and back down takes about 7 minutes, so you can ride multiple times. The package ticket includes three rides. After your ride, browse their gift shop with souvenirs and locally created items. Downstairs, enjoy some sweet treats in their pie shop.
You find many similar coasters in Europe, but there are only 20 or so in the United States. We are lucky to have them in our Blue Ridge Mountains!
Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster Tickets & Hours: Single rides are $16/adult, $13/youth 7-13 and $5/children 3-5 if they are at least 38 inches tall. The 3-Ride package is $35/adult and $29/youth. Ask about group rates. No reservations needed, just walk in. They are open 10 AM until dusk, with plans for night rides. Go to their website for details.
Location: Find the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster between Grandfather Mountain and Beech Mountain, at 3265 Tynecastle Highway, Banner Elk - along NC Highway 184. It's about 72 miles from Asheville, allowing about 1.5 hours to drive. See our Banner Elk Guide for many other things to do nearby. It's about eight miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway.