Roller coasters are exhilarating—they get your heart beating and your adrenaline pumping. But not all roller coasters are created equal. Here are 10 of America’s most thrilling roller coasters, based on their speed, height, unexpected drops, and inversions.
1. VIPER // SIX FLAGS MAGIC MOUNTAIN
After you board Viper’s green snake train, the ride promptly drops you 171 feet. And with its seven loops, one after the other, Viper doesn’t give you a moment to catch your breath. The red steel tracks cover more than 3800 feet, and you'll travel up to 70 miles per hour during the two and half minute ride.
2. BANSHEE // KINGS ISLAND
As the world’s longest inverted roller coaster—it has over 4100 feet of track—Banshee provides a uniquely thrilling experience. The blue and red steel coaster features seven inversions, speeds of up to 68 miles per hour, and the free-floating feeling of having your legs and feet thrashing about during the spins.
3. SKYRUSH // HERSHEYPARK
With fast turns and five zero-gravity drops, Skyrush is Hersheypark’s most intense ride. The maximum speed is 75 miles per hour, and the rollercoaster takes you as high as 213 feet. For an extra thrill, grab a spot in one of the end seats, which hang over the sides of the track (rather than directly above the track).
4. CANNIBAL // LAGOON PARK
If you want to ride up to 70 miles per hour, experience three inversions, and feel a g-force of 4.2, Cannibal is the ride for you. Lagoon Park rates its year-old Cannibal’s thrill level as "extreme," which makes sense given that riders drop 140 feet and experience vertical free-fall.
5. THE THUNDERBOLT // LUNA PARK
Brooklyn, New York
Coney Island’s Luna Park offers two minutes of drops, loops, rolls, and turns with The Thunderbolt. The roller coaster’s steel track, which extends for more than 2200 feet, provides riders with a 100 foot vertical drop, an 80 foot zero-gravity roll, and a 90 degree plunge. And, a gorgeous ocean view to boot.
6. KINGDA KA // SIX FLAGS GREAT ADVENTURE & SAFARI
Jackson, New Jersey
Want to tell your friends that you’ve experienced the world’s tallest (and second fastest) roller coaster? Head to New Jersey to ride Kingda Ka, a behemoth that measures 456 feet high. You’ll start the ride by accelerating to 128 miles per hour in a shocking 3.5 seconds up an actual vertical track, then you’ll drop a staggering 45 stories, making it feel like gravity doesn’t exist.
7. GOLIATH // SIX FLAGS GREAT AMERICA
If wooden roller coasters make you nervous, you might want to skip Goliath. But if you’re looking for a truly thrilling timber experience, Goliath is the fastest, tallest, and steepest wooden rollercoaster in the world. The 72 miles per hour ride has two inversions, drops you 180 feet, and features a 180-degree zero-gravity roll twist.
8. MAXAIR // CEDAR POINT
The aptly named MaXair thrill ride keeps you spinning, swinging, and jostling around until you lose all sense of equilibrium. As you sit around a big spinning ring, you get swung around at speeds of 70 miles per hour. And at 140 feet high, the far-reaching aerial view gives you an amazing vantage-point for scouting out the next ride.
9. APOLLO’S CHARIOT // BUSCH GARDENS
may look like a straightforward steel roller coaster, but it has a few tricks up its sleeve. A slow, creaky beginning leads to a series of nine fast, steep drops that feel as if you’re gliding in the sun god’s chariot. Try to sit in the back of the “chariot” to get the most smooth, flight-like experience.
10. AFTERBURN // CAROWINDS
Charlotte, North Carolina
Afterburn only lasts 2 minutes and 47 seconds, but the roller coaster will make you feel like a fully trained fighter pilot (albeit one whose legs are allowed to dangle outside the jet). The ride features speeds up to 62 miles per hour, a 113-foot drop, and six inversions (including an Immelmann turn—an actual aerial combat maneuver named for a WWI pilot).