The twists, the turns, the awkward group photos during the drop: Roller coasters are predictable and predictably thrilling. But they aren't all created equal. Where your run-of-the-mill loop-the-loop merely weakens knees, a great coaster – one of Ohio's aging wooden monsters or a Dale Earnhardt–inspired speedster in Virginia – makes riders question their decision to climb aboard then decide it was the right move after all.
Since the Mauch Chunk gravity railroad, a mining company track in Pennsylvania, opened in 1827, American engineers have been building bigger and badder thrill rides. Here are the best in the country.
Bizarro, Six Flags New England (Agawam, Massachusetts)
Named for Superman's enemy, this steel coaster lets riders experience Bizarro's evil powers. The track drops 221 feet into an underground tunnel and then careens up and over various hills and helixes. It's a three-and-a-half-minute ride that includes a tunnel of white mist and is ideal for anyone who wants to try a big coaster but isn't ready to take on something truly terrifying.