By Kelsey Thomas
The first of its kind in the southern United States and the longest downhill ride in the country, the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster welcomes guests to a unique type of thrill that features scenic views and controllable speeds. As they welcome their tenth season of the coaster, owners Josef Gombert and Jessica Seitz take pride in the adventurous ride, reminiscing that it “was truly built from the heart.”
The Alpine Coaster is extra special because it “makes it possible for all types of people to go up and down a mountain,” no matter their abilities, explains Seitz. The unique design makes for a slow, relaxing up with a great view and the brake system allows riders to control their own speed up to 27 miles an hour on the way down. “We’ve had people who are 98 years old go on this ride.”
The track is the longest downhill ride and is over one mile long. The scenic experience typically lasts about 7 to 8 minutes and takes riders down the mountain and through nature where wildlife can often be spotted. Even on the rainy days, riders can still enjoy the full experience, as plexiglass shields are added to each vehicle when there is inclement weather.
“The coaster couldn’t be in a better place,” mentions Gombert. The 80+ acres of land features wildlife, land and a creek, all which can be seen during your ride. “It also goes with nature, so we don’t cut down trees or change anything about the mountain.”
At night, the entire track is lit with bright LED lights, plunging guests into a unique experience that is entirely different than during the day. One thing you can’t miss on your journey is the giant LED American Flag that is perched at the top of the mountain. It measures at about 25 feet high and 45 feet wide – so large that it can be spotted whether you’re up high or down in the valley.
“That is our thank you to this country,” Gombert explains. “We love to be here [in the Tennessee Smokies] and this our thank you for making our idea work.” As a couple who risked everything to start this operation, they both agreed that “it’s a true American dream.”
The Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster is open 365 days a year, rain or shine. Guests must be at least 3 years old to ride. The height requirement to ride alone is 56 inches and to ride along, the heigh requirement is 38 inches with the person controlling the sled being at least 56 inches tall and 16 years of age. It’s a coaster that everyone in the family can enjoy, so get ready to ‘ride the hill and feel the thrill!
Learn more at SmokyMountainAlpineCoaster.com