Monday, May 29, 2017

Ride the Pipe Mountain Coaster in Revelstoke, B.C.

The Pipe Mountain Roller Coaster in Revelstoke, B.C. is an exhilarating ride. Down the Wrabbit Hole Travel Blog tells you what to expect and how to plan for your visit.

I wouldn't typically claim to be a so-called 'thrill seeker'. I have no aspirations of bungee jumping or leaping from an airplane. Heights freak me out, to be quite honest, although I can usually stomach them if I know I am perfectly safe. Even waterslides give me butterflies in my stomach, and I tend to stick to the ones where I am lined up with five-year-olds in the cue. So there isn't a lot of 'daredevil' travel stuff on my blog.

But this past weekend I rode a roller coaster down the side of a mountain. And that was pretty cool.

The Pipe Mountain Roller Coaster in Revelstoke, B.C. is an exhilarating ride. Down the Wrabbit Hole Travel Blog tells you what to expect and how to plan for your visit.
Ready to zoom down the roller coaster.

The Pipe Mountain Roller Coaster is located at the Revelstoke Mountain Resort just beyond the town of Revelstoke, British Columbia in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. The coaster was North America's first Brandauer Mountain Coaster, a streamlined monorail alpine coaster. The attraction is basically brand-new, as construction on it was completed in 2015 with the official opening day on May 21, 2016. We rode the coaster almost one year after its opening, on May 20, 2017.

The coaster boasts a top speed of 42 kilometers per hour, which doesn't sound altogether too impressive, but when you are sitting on it, whizzing down a mountainside, it is. The run is a 279 meter vertical drop along a 1.4 kilometer stretch, and lasts for about 4 minutes, which is pretty long in the roller coaster world.

The rails as seen from the inside of the gondola.

The Revelstoke Mountain Resort itself is easy to find. There are tons of blue signs sprinkled throughout the town of Revelstoke guiding you along. Once you reach the resort, it is only a matter of walking through the dusty parking lot towards the back side of the resort, towards a blue-roofed kiosk near Guest Services. There you can purchase your gondola lift tickets and roller coaster tickets. I am a little unclear on how the prices work - the website says $25 per adult and kids 5 and under free, but for myself, my husband, my three-year-old (who rode the roller coaster), and my one-year-old (who did not ride the roller coaster), we were charged a total of $71 so I don't really know what I was charged for exactly. It is expensive for one ride on the coaster, but we really wanted to try it so we were willing to pay.

The Revelstoke Mountain Resort from behind.

On a related note, the gondola pass is good for the entire day with unlimited trips, so you can enjoy the views of the Kootenay mountain range from the comfort of the gondola repeatedly. You just have to go back down the same way you came up.

Once you purchase your ticket, you can choose to cue up at the base of the gondola right away, or stroll around the resort and check out its multiple shops and restaurants. Of course, we opted to line up right away as the roller coaster was our main purpose in visiting. When you hit the gondola station, the attendant scans your ticket and staples a number to your pass. This number determines when it is your turn to ride down the roller coaster.

My husband and son enjoying the ride up the gondola.

I really liked this numbering system, because it assumes your time is precious, which it is. The roller coaster loads riders up in 40 people increments. If numbers 1-40 are loading at the top of the mountain, and you are holding ticket number 65, then you know you have time to explore the Village Plaza at the resort base instead of wasting it standing in line at the top. Loading numbers are broadcasted on multiple screens around the resort, as well as online so you can watch from your phone for your turn to ride up the gondola.

Of course, you can go up the gondola anytime you want. There is a building at the top called Revelation Lodge where you can rest, get refreshments, and enjoy the view of the Columbia valley. There are also a couple of rough hiking trails that you can enjoy if you don't want to buy a roller coaster pass, or find yourself a top the mountain much earlier than needed. I do suggest that if you want to explore the top of the mountain, bring some sunscreen, water, sunglasses, bug spray, snacks, etc. That way you are prepared to enjoy an extended stay surrounded by an amazing view. (But don't pack a massive bag or purse, or you might not be able to take it down the coaster with you.

My girl and I ready to 'ride in the sky'. 

Once it is your turn to board the roller coaster, you squeeze into the little yellow cart and get strapped and buckled in by the attendant (straps across your ankles, seatbelt across your lap). You are given a lesson on how to operate the roller coaster - there isn't really much because it is a self-driven machine hurtling down a metal rail. Pushing the lever forward makes the coaster go faster (topping out at 42 km/hr) and pulling back on the lever helps to brake the machine. It is recommended you don't go too crazy on the brake, because there are people coming down the mountain behind you and you don't want to start a traffic jam. Let the attendant know if you plan on going slow or fast, and they can time your release so you don't have to worry about riders either ahead of or behind you.

The Pipe Mountain Roller Coaster in Revelstoke, B.C. is an exhilarating ride. Down the Wrabbit Hole Travel Blog tells you what to expect and how to plan for your visit.
Daddy / daughter ride about to begin!

Beyond that, just enjoy the ride. I brought my GoPro and slid it into the clip mounted on the front of the coater seat, courtesy of the resort. There are no handheld devices allowed, so don't expect to use your iPhone to take video footage. In fact, you can't even stick your hands or arms outside of the ride, as there are trees whipping by you near the track that could cause some damage if you smacked into them. You even whiz through a tunnel at one point. So be safe and have fun.

The words '42 kilometers per hour' don't sound like much. But flying down the track with your hair whipping in the wind, tears streaming from the corners of your eyes, you sure feel the speed. My adrenaline was pumping, and I tried to scream at times, but it mostly came out as a laughter. The ride is a total rush and I wanted to go again but we didn't have the time or cash. My daughter, who is only three, rode down the coaster tucked between my husband's legs. She was yelling, "This is the best slide ever!!!" so she definitely agrees with me that the coaster is a thrill and a half.

The Pipe Mountain Roller Coaster in Revelstoke, B.C. is an exhilarating ride. Down the Wrabbit Hole Travel Blog tells you what to expect and how to plan for your visit.
I always have a silly face on rides, but this went fast!

(For parents out there planning to ride with their family, kids under 8 need to ride with an adult, and kids over 8 meeting specific height requirements can be their own driver. Just know before you go, because that will affect who can ride and when. I went up first and rode solo while my husband watched the two kids at the bottom, then my husband and my daughter went up to ride while my son and I rode the gondola a few times. Parker, at almost two years old, was too small and young to ride the coaster. Depending on your family structure, you will have to sort out who can ride independently, who can ride with an adult, and who can't ride at all.)

Riding the Pipe Mountain Coaster was a wonderful experience - quite the rush with beautiful scenery to boot. The weather we had that day was gorgeous, with full sun and no wind. (Rain is BAD - they will close the coaster down during inclement weather, so check the forecast before you buy tickets.) My kids enjoyed the gondola, the coaster, and even the rolling hills at the base of the resort where they cleared the ground of dandelions. (You are welcome, Revelstoke Mountain Resort.) We will definitely be going back when the son is old enough to experience it as well. Fun for the whole family.

"Best slide ever!!!"

On a final note, I really want to thank the resort staff for rescuing our double stroller from the overflow parking lot where we left it all by itself. Our stroller, while still working through its abandonment issues, is happy to be back safe and sound with us (except we forgot it once more at 3 Valley Gap, but I'll save that story for another post). The Revelstoke Mountain Resort staff walked out to the parking lot, grabbed our forgotten stroller, and stowed it away safely until we could come pick it up, and for that I say, "Thank you!!!" What a great team you guys have there.

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