I’ve enjoyed the thrill of a rollercoaster ever since my first trip to Disneyland, when I barely met the minimum height requirements. So when an invitation to the launch of Canada’s longest and fastest mountain coaster appeared in my inbox, I was ready to start packing my bags.

I had to wait a little longer than planned. Originally scheduled to launch in 2022, the Railrider Mountain Coaster at Golden Skybridge was delayed by highway closures and supply chain challenges last summer. The coaster finally opened on Monday, May 15, and I was among the first to climb aboard after the ribbon cutting.

Credit: Christina Newberry

Getting to the coaster is an adventure in itself. I followed Tristan MacLaggan, general manager of Golden Skybridge, along a 1.3-kilometre wooded trail to an expansive viewpoint that opens onto the Upper Skybridge. At 130 metres above the canyon floor, this is Canada’s highest suspension bridge, and it’s the only way to get to the coaster. With sweeping mountain views to the left and a roaring waterfall to the right, it’s a stunning crossing—though I’ll admit I didn’t look down.

After more strolling through the woods, past the challenge courses and the zipline launch tower, we arrived at the Railrider platform.

Dave Best | Tourism Golden

I climbed into my cart and strapped in. Carts fit one or two people, and I chose to ride solo. Each cart is equipped with hand levers to control your speed.

As I waited for my turn to take off, I watched the riders ahead of me come shooting down the first set of curves, some of them laughing and screaming like children as they whizzed past.

After a quick safety briefing and brake check, it was my turn to ride. I pushed the levers forward and moved slowly up the first of the track’s two big climbs. Each car has its own speaker, and as I rounded the corner at the top, a voice bellowed, “Let’s go!” Then the sound of a train whistle blared as I dropped into the turns.

Dave Best | Tourism Golden

The course is built in two sections. Unlike a single-pipe mountain coaster, which is powered only by gravity, the Railrider incorporates tension terminals and bullwheels similar to a gondola to power the ride over a kilometre of four-rail track.

The ride has two main sections. The first winds through old-growth trees—an intentional design choice made to preserve the integrity of the forest. Those first turns feel fast, and it’s tempting to pull up on the brakes. But it’s nothing compared to what happens next.

Credit: Christina Newberry

The track naturally slows for just a moment before barrelling through a dark tunnel and shooting me out onto the cliff edge for what MacLaggan calls “30 seconds of pure stomach-dropping adrenaline.” More than 100 people were involved in the “extremely challenging” construction of the cantilevered cliffside track that, at some points, sits 18 metres above the ground. From the top of the first climb, it’s a total descent length of nearly 670 metres.

I gripped the handles tight but didn’t pull up on the brakes—although I did hear myself screaming in some of the faster banked corners. Then it all slowed way down for the final climb. As I gazed at the snowy mountain peaks to my right, I giggled as I heard the rider behind me hooting through the final turns.

Cresting the top of the climb, the whole canyon comes into view. I could see the suspension bridges, the zipline, mountains and forest extending in all directions. And then it was all over, and I disembarked on the same platform where I started. But it wasn’t really all over, because once was not enough, so I walked around to the boarding side of the platform and did it all again.

Credit: Christina Newberry

After the ride, there’s the matter of getting back across the canyon to the base village and parking lot. I chose the slightly slower route of walking back across the Lower Skybridge—which is a not-so-low 80 metres above the canyon. The bridge is wired slightly differently than the Upper Skybridge, allowing for a little more movement and a little more adrenaline at the end of your day.

The faster option for the return journey is the zipline, which takes just 45 seconds to fly 365 metres, depositing riders right next to the axe throwing station in the base village. Not wanting to miss anything, I tackled both the zipline and the axe throwing on another round through the Skybridge loop. The satisfying thunk the axe made the one time I managed to sink it into the target was almost as thrilling as being suspended from a cable over 180 metres above the ground.

Credit: Christina Newberry

Afterwards, I felt I’d earned a rest, so I grabbed a huckleberry ale from Fernie Brewing Company at the outdoor bar and a burger from the on-site food truck. The verdict, echoed by the others in my group? That was a ridiculous amount of fun.

“That’s the response we see in the facial expressions of our guests, from three years old to 90,” MacLaggan said. “It’s a look of pure enjoyment. It brings out the child in everyone.”


When you go:

  • An Adventure Pass at Golden Skybridge costs around $80 for an adult and includes admission to the Canyon Edge Challenge Course and Climbing Wall as well at the Sky Zipline, axe throwing and the Railrider Mountain Coaster.
  • Additional admission(s) for the individual attractions are available for $15 each or $30 for three.
  • Closed-toe shoes are required for most of the attractions.
  • Find more information here.


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