Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on January 26, 2024.
Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster is easily one of our favorite things to do in Banner Elk, no matter the time of year! This amazing High Country attraction brings in people from all over to experience one of North Carolina‘s most thrilling rides.
Since it’s one of the area’s most popular activities, there are quite a few things you should know before you go. Our guide shares some essential tips, including ticket info, whether you should bring your phone, and nearby places to go.
- Where is The Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster?
- What is The Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster?
- Important Tips Before You Go
- Check-in Info
- Phone Advice
- Ropes Course
- Nearby Places
You can skip ahead to any of these important sections or continue reading about how to find the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster in Banner Elk, North Carolina!
Where is The Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster?
Address: 3265 Tynecastle Highway, Banner Elk, NC
The Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster is a quick drive from downtown Banner Elk through North Carolina’s scenic highways. Practically across the street from Sugar Mountain Resort, the ride offers excellent views of Sugar Mountain and is within easy access to Boone, Linville Gorge, and Blowing Rock.
What is The Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster?
This thrill ride is one of the Blue Ridge Mountains’ newest attractions, ready to bring a splash of adrenaline to your next visit to the High Country.
The Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster is the area’s first alpine coaster. A German design team used European coaster models to dream up 3,160 feet of winding, grinding, full-fledged action. Your ride starts with a cable-pulled ascent before careening through the changing landscape, armed with a handbrake to control your speed.
On two-person carts, riders speed through loops and hair-raising turns while enjoying plenty of classic Western North Carolina scenery whizzing by at top speed. Daredevils can reach speeds of 27 miles per hour across the seven-minute, gravity-fed ride.
The Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster is open into the night and year-round, using the High Country’s changing seasons to offer unique rides all year long.
Show up in the springtime and spend some time watching the countryside bloom on the observation tower, catch a few falling leaves on your way down in fall, or bring a windbreaker and bomb snow-covered hills come winter.
Complete with a ropes course, clubhouse, coffee shop, and viewing tower, this family-friendly coaster is a great way to turn your vacation up a notch.
Important Tips Before You Go
You won’t find many coasters more scenic than this one. Check out these tips to get the most out of your afternoon.
Check-in In Advance
To ensure everyone can enjoy the course a few times in a session, the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster accepts reservations in the form of a registered check-in time. You can reserve a timeslot for parties big and small via the link below.
They’ve got a great system that guarantees a time slot without purchasing your ticket until arrival. Reserving your time slot in advance is the safest bet to ensure three trips through the coaster. Walk-in visitors are accepted, but only if there is enough space.
You may be able to get away with a walk-in during the shoulder season, but anyone visiting during summer or busy winter breaks should consider a reservation a requirement.
Buy More Than 1 Ride Ticket
Trust us when we tell you that one trip through the forest will only leave you wanting more. Tickets are sold in single-ride packages or three-ride allotments at a significant discount, and anyone who has gone through the gauntlet will tell you to opt for multiple rides.
You’re likely to rely heavily on the handbrake on your first run as you get used to the sleek winds and high speeds. By round three, your hands will be in the air, and you’ll take the high-flying sections with confidence that the whole family will remember.
Don’t Lose Your Phone
The Alpine Coaster ain’t messing around. Wild turns and wicked speeds will force any improperly protected devices to fly out of your pockets. There are nets at the track’s edges to collect fallen equipment, but if you don’t have your phone zipped up and secured, there’s a real chance you won’t see it again!
You’re better off leaving it in the storage area of the clubhouse or with a member of your party on the observation deck.
The fine folks running the coaster have you covered if you’re in need of a souvenir. For $5, you can have high-quality photos of riders at one of the most pivotal moments of the descent.
Bring the Whole Family
The coaster is a great combination of adrenaline-inducing fun without fear of losing control. Unlike most roller coaster attractions, anyone over three years old and 38 inches tall is welcome to ride, as long as the person controlling the sled is 16 years old or older.
Prepare for a Thrilling Ride
The cool thing about the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster is how much control you have over your ride. Two handbrakes allow you to ease up on things around the turn, and solid seatbelts make it easy to sit back and enjoy the ride.
No matter how often you break, you’ll have a blast winding through classic Blue Ridge landscapes in the rain, snow, or shine for a one-of-a-kind ride. The park pauses rides for any signs of lightning within 10 miles, but besides a deluge, the coaster rolls no matter the weather.
Staff members will attach a rain shield that keeps riders dry while hitting mach speeds through a drizzle.
Hit the Ropes Course
The Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster has been an immediate hit, and the operators have built on their success by adding a Rope Course on site.
The Wilderness Run Adventure Course is a multi-leveled activity course filled with balance, climbing, and teamwork challenges that bring a group together while getting in a great afternoon outside.
Twenty-eight different obstacles alongside the Alpine Coaster ride turn a trip into an entire afternoon’s worth of excitement. The main Ropes Course is reserved for ages eight and up, but the young ones can start earlier with a child-friendly course right next door.
The Ropes Course is open seasonally, beginning on Memorial Day.
Keep Coming Back for More!
We love visiting the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster and can’t wait for our next time zooming around, climbing the ropes course, and more. If you’ve visited this awesome attraction, we’d love to hear about your experiences.
Bonus Tip: Check out Nearby Things to Do
Another important tip before visiting the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster is to check out these nearby places, including Banner Elk and surrounding towns.
You won’t have to drive far to find the peak of Sugar Mountain and the abundance of outdoor exploration possible on the mountain top. Rent bikes in the summertime, enjoy the leaves change in the fall, or hit the slopes come winter.
As we mentioned, Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster is one of our favorite things to do in Banner Elk. Of course, there’s plenty more to explore, including the town’s amazing restaurants and shops, wineries, and the awesome Apple Hill Farm (an ethical and working alpaca farm)!
There are more than a few events throughout the year, but the Woolly Worm Festival in October is easily one of the biggest.
No matter when you visit, don’t forget that Banner Elk is also a popular gateway to Grandfather Mountain State Park and the Mile High Swinging Bridge on the privately-owned Grandfather Mountain attraction. Some of NC’s best waterfalls are nearby, including:
25 Minutes Away from Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster
Sugar Mountain isn’t the only resort town near Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster, as Beech Mountain is about 25 minutes away. At 5506 feet, nearby Beech Mountain is the highest town in the Eastern United States and is one of our favorite spots in the High Country.
Unique to the ski industry, Beech Mountain’s glass roundhouse known as the “5,506′ Skybar” is accessible via chairlift (or shuttle during special events). A variety of snacks, beautiful views, and a complete bar await here.
25 Minutes Away from Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster
It is no secret that Boone is one of our favorite North Carolina mountain towns near Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster. It’s home to Appalachian State University, making Boone a thriving college town with amazing outdoor activities.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is also nearby, with some of our favorite High Country stops including:
- Beacon Heights Overlook Trail
- Boone Fork Trail
- Linn Cove Viaduct
- Linville Falls and Duggers Creek Falls
- Rough Ridge Trail
30 Minutes Away from Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster
Blowing Rock is about 30 minutes away from the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster and last but not least of nearby places we’ll share! Downtown Blowing Rock is home to adorable shops and some of our favorite restaurants.
The town is also the closest entrance to multiple waterfalls that we’ve seen in North Carolina, the Glen Burney Trail.
More Things to Do near Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster
Beyond the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster and these nearby places, there are plenty of things to do in the area. We’ve created many NC travel guides that cover them all and here are a few for you to check out.