Alpine coaster opens in North Carolina mountains

Alpine coaster opens in North Carolina mountains

BANNER ELK, N.C. — There’s a new attraction in North Carolina’s High Country. Earlier this month, Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster, the first Alpine coaster to be built in the Blue Ridge Mountains, opened to residents of Avery and Watauga counties.

Currently, the coaster is open to local residents only in order to comply with North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s COVID-19 reopening plan.

The attraction could open to out-of-town visitors during Phase 2 of Cooper’s plan in the coming weeks.

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The coaster is owned and operated by Army veteran Eric Bechard and his wife, Tara.

The couple’s daughter, Ashley Brown, told Durham’s WTVD her family enjoyed riding Alpine coasters when they were stationed in Germany and, since retiring, her parents wanted to bring an attraction to the area that families could do in their downtime when visiting the mountains.

Know before you go

Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster is located in Banner Elk at 3229 Tynecastle Highway, which is about a 2 1/2-hour drive from Charlotte.

Local residents should make reservations at

The ride begins 770 feet up the mountain and is powered by gravity. It can cruise up to 27 mph, but riders will be able to control the speed with a brake on the side of the car.

There are three near-360-degree turns, but no significant drops.

The coaster’s cars are built for two riders, but you can go solo if you are at least 54 inches tall and at least 16 years old. Children must be at least 3 years old and 38 inches tall to ride. Children who meet the required height and age must be accompanied by a rider who is 16 years of age or older.

The coaster will be open from 10 a.m. to dusk.

A ride costs $16 for adults, $13 for youth ages 7-13 and $5 for children ages 3-6, or you can buy three rides for $35 for adults or $29 for youth.

You can follow Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster on Facebook here for more updates.

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