Since before I can remember, I have been addicted to speed and that weightless feeling in my stomach caused by going over a good bump. According to my mother, when I was very young I even found joy in airplane turbulence. She remembers that while she was trying not to toss her cookies, I was giggling, yelling “wee” and forcing her to join in with some half-hearted cheering of her own.
Now that I’m an adult, I’ve inherited her intolerance to turbulence but I still gravitate toward the rush of G-force.
The Black Hills and South Dakota as a whole are curiously devoid of ways for me to get my adrenaline fix. There are no Six Flags an easy drive away, the Rushmore Waterslide Park has closed, the alpine slide is too crowded to ever get up to speed and most ziplines are too short to really be worth the price for me.
Now to be fair, I did really enjoy the Rushmore Tramway Adventures aerial park and I haven’t tried the Fun Zone Free Fall, mostly because, with its location in the center of the Holy Terror complex, all jumpers are on display for anyone shopping, eating or walking by. My love of adrenaline has been trumped by my stage fright.
But now the Black Hills has truly elevated its adrenaline game with the Rushmore Mountain Coaster at Rush Mountain Adventure Park.
This 3,400-foot ride features two 360-degree curves and top speeds of nearly 30 mph. Coaster cars hold one or two passengers, who control the pace of the ride by braking or letting loose after being hauled to the hilltop. The tow to the top is peaceful, offering views of the valley below.
For the less adrenaline inclined, the brakes can be applied throughout the ride slowing the cars speed to just shy of stopping — to avoid collisions. I assume this is a more relaxing and scenery focused tour, but I had no desire to try it out.
When I finally got to ride the Rushmore Mountain Coaster after months of anticipation, I put my faith in the engineers and didn’t brake at all. I wasn’t disappointed.
The ride to the bottom at top speed was everything a coaster should be with stomach-lurching bumps and 360-degree curves applying ample centrifugal force. I happily rode the coaster three times in one hour and I would’ve ridden a dozen more if time had allowed.
My only complaint was the maintaining the requisite 80 feet between cars becomes tricky when a slow rider is followed by a speed demon like myself. My second ride I had to heavily apply the breaks to avoid rear-ending the car in front of mine.
If I had been paying the $10 or $15 per ride and was unable to get up to full speed, I would have been severely disappointed. I hope the Rush Mountain staff work to remedy this problem when operating the attraction.
Despite this one drawback, I recommend everyone go out and take a spin on the new coaster. Whether fast or slow, it’s a worthwhile ride.